CyberOSINT banner

Indexing Rah Rah Rah!

May 4, 2015

Enterprise search is one of the most important features for enterprise content management systems and there is huge industry for designing and selling taxonomies.  The key selling features for taxonomies are their diversity, accuracy, and quality.  The categories within taxonomies make it easier for people to find their content, but Tech Target’s Search Content Management blog says there is room improvement in the post: “Search-Based Applications Need The Engine Of Taxonomy.”

Taxonomies are used for faceted search, allowing users to expand and limit their search results.  Faceted search gives users a selection to change their results, including file type, key words, and more of the ever popular content categories. Users usually don’t access the categories, primarily they are used behind the scenes and aggregated the results appear on the dashboard.

Taxonomies, however, take their information from more than what the user provides:

“We are now able to assemble a holistic view of the customer based on information stored across a number of disparate solutions. Search-based applications can also include information about the customer that was inferred from public content sources that the enterprise does not own, such as news feeds, social media and stock prices.”

Whether you know it or not, taxonomies are vital to enterprise search.  Companies that have difficulty finding their content need to consider creating a taxonomy plan or invest in purchasing category lists from a proven company.

Whitney Grace, May 4, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Microsoft Streamlining Update Process for SharePoint 2016

April 9, 2015

One of the most frequent complaints from SharePoint users and administrators is the cumbersome update process. It seems that Microsoft is listening and finally responding. Read more in the Redmond Channel Partner article, “Microsoft To Revamp Update Process for SharePoint 2016.”

The article sums up the news:

“The process of updating SharePoint Server will become less cumbersome in the next version of the product, according to a Microsoft executive. Speaking about the upcoming SharePoint 2016 during an IT Unity-hosted talk last Friday, Bill Baer, a Microsoft senior technical product manager and a Microsoft Certified Master for SharePoint, said that IT pros will get smaller updates and that applying them will entail less downtime for organizations.”

Less downtime for organizations will be a welcome change. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime search expert, and has followed SharePoint through its ups and downs. He often finds that though SharePoint is the most widely adopted enterprise solution, its complicated nature and poor user experience often lead to perceived failures. Keep up with the latest SharePoint news on ArnoldIT.com, specifically the dedicated SharePoint feed, to determine if the streamlining of updates leads to higher marks for SharePoint.

Emily Rae Aldridge, April 9, 2015

Stephen E Arnold, Publisher of CyberOSINT at www.xenky.com

Exalead Chases Customer Support

January 16, 2015

On Exalead’s blog in the post, “Build Customer Interaction For Tomorrow,” the company examines how startups, such as AirBnb, Uber, online banks, and others dedicated to services, have found success. The reason is they have made customer service a priority through the Internet and using applications that make customer service an easy experience. This allowed the startups to enter the oversaturated market and become viable competition.

They have been able to make customer service a priority, because they have eliminated the barriers that come between clients and the companies.

“First of all, they have to communicate with agility inside the company. When you have numerous colleagues, all specialized in a particular function, the silos have to break down. Nothing can be accomplished without efficient cooperation between teams. The aim: transform internal processes and then boost customer interaction.

Next, external communication, headed by the customer. Each firm has to know its clients in order to respond to their needs. The first step was to develop Big Data technologies. Today we have to go further: create a real 360° view of the customer by enriching data. It’s the only way to answer customer challenges, especially in the multi-channel era.”

The startups have changed the tired, old business model that has been used since the 1980s. The 1980s was solid for the shoulder pads and Aqua Net along with the arguably prosperous economy, but technology and customer relations have changed. Customers want to feel like they are not just another piece of information. They want to connect with a real person and have their problems resolved. New ways to organization information and harness data provide many solutions for customer service, but there are still industries that are forgetting to make the customer the priority.

Whitney Grace, January 16, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Customers Dissatisfied with SharePoint Online Cuts

December 23, 2014

Certain SharePoint Online features are being phased out. Rumor has it that Public Sites may be the next to go. But in a world where knowing, preparing, and bracing for change is really valuable, Microsoft isn’t talking. ZDNet covers the breaking story in their article, “Microsoft Users Not Happy Over Quiet SharePoint Online Feature Cuts.”

The article begins:

“Microsoft announced the company would enable its business customers to stay on top of the rollout of the myriad moving parts of Microsoft’s Office 365 service. The Office 365 Roadmap site would become a central site for many (but not all) Office 365 features that were announced, rolling out or being nixed before they debuted, officials said. But in the past couple of months, Microsoft has been eliminating quietly some SharePoint Online features — with more possible eliminations to come. Finding out about those planned cuts isn’t as easy as it should be, customers say.”

Stephen E. Arnold has been covering search, including enterprise, for the span of his career. He reports his findings on ArnoldIT.com. This SharePoint online rumor is a good example of a time in which it’s important to have outside sources. Arnold reports the latest SharePoint news, rumor, tips, and tricks on his SharePoint feed, and users may find it most helpful when attempting to brace for the impact of changes such as those mentioned above.

Emily Rae Aldridge, December 23, 2014

Why I Dismiss Search Vendors Who Sell Customer Service Solutions

November 13, 2014

I have had feedback over the years about the baloney generated by mid tier consultants, struggling enterprise search vendors, and failed webmasters about their expertise in customer service.

Customer service means cost cutting or worse to me. I ignore the silliness of Comcast apologists too.

I wish to offer a tiny bit of possibly true information from the annals of real customer service; that is, attention to customers the it is, not as it is supposed to be.

Navigate to http://bit.ly/112cWdc. Allegedly this is a “real” letter from a former Amazonian to big cheese bits at the digital WalMart with drones, Amazon.

As I read this allegedly accurate epistle, a person asserts that the digital WalMart wanted an Amazon professional (now apparently seeking a future elsewhere) to prevaricate. Here’s the passage I highlighted:

I tried to get Amazon to address what I believe to be misleading and deceptive, and possibly criminal ?nancial fraud issues related treatment of an Amazon advertising customer while I was an employee at the company. I was subsequently terminated for raising the internal ethics complaint even though Amazon’s own policies require that employees report events of this nature. To be terminated for that is wrong and is the subject of current litigation which I have asked the Washington Attorney General’s office to assist in resolving, since it deals with important issues related to misleading,deceptive, and what I believe to be ?nancially fraudulent trade practices that relate to Amazon customers and employees.

Is this perhaps the first instance of alleged misconduct in the handling of “customer service” issues? If so, mark it down. If not, my views of customer service have been affirmed.

Stephen E Arnold, November 13, 2014

Enterprise Search, Knowledge Management, & Customer Service: Some of the Study Stuff Ups Evident?

October 27, 2014

One of my two or three readers sent me a link to “The 10 Stuff Ups We All Make When Interpreting Research.” The article walks through some common weaknesses individuals make when “interpreting research.” I don’t agree with the “all” in the title.

This article arrived as I was reading a recent study about search. As an exercise on a surprisingly balmy Sunday afternoon in Kentucky, I jotted down the 10 “stuff ups” presented in the Interpreting Research article. Here they are in my words, paraphrased to sidestep plagiarism, copyright, and Google duplication finder issues:

  1. One study, not a series of studies. In short, an anomaly report.
  2. One person’s notion of what is significant may be irrelevant.
  3. Mixing up risk and the Statistics 101 notion of “number needed to treat” gets the cart before the horse.
  4. Trends may not be linear.
  5. Humans find what they want to find; that is, pre existing bias or cooking the study.
  6. Ignore the basics and layer cake the jargon.
  7. Numbers often require context. Context in the form of quotes in one on one interviews require numbers.
  8. Models and frameworks do not match reality; that is, a construct is not what is.
  9. Specific situations do matter.
  10. Inputs from colleagues may not identify certain study flaws.

To test the article’s premises, I I turned to a study sent to me by a persona named Alisa Lipzen. Its title is “The State of Knowledge Management: 2014. Growing role & Value of Unified Search in Customer Service.” (If the link does not work for you, you will have to contact either of the sponsors, the Technology Services Industry Association or Coveo, an enterprise search vendor based in Canada.) You may have to pay for the report. My copy was free. Let’s do a quick pass through the document to see if it avoids the “stuff ups.”

First, the scope of the report is broad:

1. Knowledge management. Although I write a regular column for KMWorld, I must admit that I am not able to define exactly what this concept means. Like many information access buzzwords, the shotgun marriage of “knowledge” and “management” glues together two abstractions. In most usages, knowledge management refers to figuring out what a person “knows” and making that information available to others in an organization. After all, when a person quits, having access to that person’s “knowledge” has a value. But “knowledge” is as difficult to nail down as “management.” I suppose one knows it when one encounters it.

2. Unified search. The second subject is “unified search.” This is the idea that a person can use a single system to locate information germane to a query from a single search box. Unified suggests that widely disparate types of information are presented in a useful manner. For me, the fact that Google, arguably the best resourced information access company, has been unable to deliver unified search. Note that Google calls its goal “universal search.” In the 1980s, Fulcrum Technologies (Ottawa, Canada) search offered a version of federated search. In 2014, Google requires that a user run a query across different silos of information; for example, if I require informatio0n about NGFW I have to run the query across Google’s Web index, Google scholarly articles, Google videos, Google books, Google blogs, and Google news. This is not very universal. Most “unified” search solutions are marketing razzle dazzle for financial, legal, technical, and other reasons. Therefore, organizations have to have different search systems.

3. Customer service. This is a popular bit of jargon. The meaning of customer service, for me, boils down to cost savings. Few companies have the appetite to pay for expensive humans to deal with the problems paying customers experience. Last week, I spent one hour on hold with an outfit called Wellcare. The insurance company’s automated system reassured me that my call was important. The call was never answered. What did I learn. Neither my call nor my status as a customer was important. Most information access systems applied to “customer service” are designed to drive the cost of support and service as low as possible.

switchboard_thumb.png

“Get rid of these expensive humans,” says the MBA. “I want my annual bonus.”

I was not familiar with the TSIA. What is its mission? According the the group’s Web site:

TSIA is organized around six major service disciplines that address the major service businesses found in a typical technology company.

Each service discipline has its own membership community led by a seasoned research executive. Additionally, each service discipline has the following:

In addition, we have a research practice on Service Technology that spans across all service discipline focus areas.

My take is that TSIA is a marketing-oriented organization for its paying members.

Now let’s look at some of the the report’s key findings:

The people, process, and technology components of technology service knowledge management (KM) programs. This year’s survey examined core metrics and practices related to knowledge capture, sharing, and maintenance, as well as forward-looking elements such as video, crowd sourcing, and expertise management. KM is no longer just of interest to technical support and call centers. The survey was open to all TSIA disciplines, and 50% of the 400-plus responses were from groups other than support services, including 24% of responses from professional services organizations.

Read more

Open Source CRM Pulls in Open Source Search

October 8, 2014

I read “12 Open Source CRM Options.” I think of CRM as a synonym for customer experience or CRM as an easy way to suck down a top salesperson’s contact list when he or she heads to greener pastures. I know. I am shortsighted.

The write up surprised me because I did not know there were a dozen open source CRM solutions, components, or widgets. I assumed there were the big buck systems from Oracle and Salesforce.com. I was uninformed.

I had heard of SugarCRM because one of the proprietary search vendors supports the system. I had not heard of:

Vtiger (a variant of SugarCRM), SuiteCRM, Fat Free CRM, Odoo, Zurmo, EspoCRM, SplendidCRM, OpenCRX, X2Engfine, Concourse Suite, or CentraView.

Well, there you.

My reaction to this basket of “suites” is that search is going to be part of the offering. When the baked in solution falls short, then the licensees will look for more robust solutions. For me, that means taking a look at the open source search solutions. ElasticSearch and Sphinx Search come to mind, but there are others.

I would not be too keen to license one of the proprietary search systems for three reasons:

  1. Try open source and if it works, the money can be used for other things. Raises or hiring a tastier consultant
  2. There are satisfactory information retrieval solutions that run from the cloud, on premises, or in a hybrid mode
  3. The hassles of integrating an open source and a proprietary system can be sidestepped. Integration is never a walk in the park, but it seems that open source begets open source.

Stephen E Arnold, October 8, 2014

Clarabridge: Modified Positioning

September 22, 2014

I noted that Clarabridge has modified its marketing for the push to year end revenues. The company continues to use “customer experience” as a code work for customer support. The phrase “customer support” has become a go to reference for some stand up comedians. Customer service is now a “frontier,” not a method for reducing costs. The company is using the bound phrase “your voice” as a way to signal listening to individuals. The notion was parroted in “Clarabridge’s New Customer Service Frontier: Your Voice.” The article asserts:

Clarabridge, a Reston-based company that gathers and analyzes customer sentiment for a range of industries, is adding a noisy new feedback channel: speech.

Clarabridge ingested $80 million in venture funding. Some of the original investors have benefited from this infusion of money. Clarabridge at one time had staff with some expertise in MicroStrategy technology. Clarabridge will use some of the funding to amplify its content marketing activities in order to drive more sales leads.

How quickly will the enterprise search vendors “pivoting” to the customer support market adopt this terminology? Pretty quickly I anticipate.

My principal concern is that

Stephen E Arnold,  September 22, 2014

Google and Customer Support

September 12, 2014

I don’t expect anything from an outfit providing customer support. I don’t expect anything from search vendors with customer support systems. The name of the game is no costs. To eliminate costs, customer support operations have some options.

  1. Ignore the inquiries. I recall that a member of my family used this method for a large search system. He figured that the time required to handle inquiries would bankrupt the company. Ergo: Hit delete.
  2. Buy an automated system and let it run. This usually requires paying a vendor to set up the system and “maintain” it. This works a bit like winning on a digital slot machine.
  3. Try to perform customer support. Move the operation to some lower cost location and deal with the revolving door that leads to 20 to 50 percent turnover.

Many companies use these options in combination.

According to Computerworld (yep, it seems to still be in business unlike other units of IDG’s empire), Google has to shift from option one.

“German Court Requires Google to Stop Ignoring Customer Emails” reports:

Google users who email the address “support-de@google.com” receive an automatic reply notifying the emailer that Google will neither read nor reply due to the large number of requests sent to the address. After that sentence, the automatic reply directs Google users to various online self-help guides and contact forms. This form of communication is incompatible with the German Telemedia Act, which says that companies must provide a way to ensure fast electronic communications with them, the VZBV had argued. The organization described Google’s support address as a black box in which messages disappear into a void. The court agreed with the VZBV and ruled that an automatically generated email does not meet the requirements of the law.

There you go. Google may shift to another option. Perhaps a search engine vendor will land the contract. Will the German court like that approach? I will wait with German pointer like fixation.

Stephen E Arnold, September 12, 2014

Note that IDC is the outfit that sold my content on Amazon without my permission. The “expert” who is surfing on my name is Dave Schubmehl. The German court does not seem to pay much attention to this, however.

Xerox Branches Into Customer Service

August 7, 2013

Isn’t Xerox a copier company? Well, lately it has also been doing litigation and eDiscovery work. Now, Yahoo Finance tells us in “Xerox Acquires Customer Value Group,” the company is adding cloud-based customer service to its repertoire with its latest acquisition. (No word here on how much Xerox shelled out in this deal.)

Customer service? Our top goose remarks that he once called Xerox for help with a DocuTech scanner. He was reminded to ask his assistant whether he is still on hold.

The write-up tells us:

“Leading software company Customer Value Group’s key Software as a Service (SaaS) cloud application enhances cash collections of diverse firms by simplifying management of customer credit, collections, and disputes. It has an in-depth expertise in cloud-based accounts receivable software and manages the order-to-cash process that is related to approximately $15 billion of revenues in eight countries and multiple currencies.

“With this acquisition, Xerox aims to strengthen itself as a as a stand-alone software application provider for managing internal finances of various companies. As part of its finance and accounting process outsourcing services, Xerox will offer Customer Value Group’s Value+ product to its clients.”

The article emphasizes that Xerox will continue to comb the globe for choice enterprises to snap up in the years ahead. The company, based in Norwalk, Connecticut, now houses three operating segments, Technology, Services, and “Others”. That last one— well, that’s one way to avoid boxing yourself in.

With a focus on innovation and leading-edge software, The Customer Value Group boasts of a typical ROI 5 to 10 times the cost of engagement. The London-based company brings several prominent credit, collections, and customer-service clients to the table.

Cynthia Murrell, August 07, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Next Page »