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SharePoint Development Firms Are Big Business

February 12, 2015

SharePoint is a big contender in the world of enterprise, and it is not just big business for Microsoft, but for lots of other firms that do consulting or add-on work. MarketWired has listed the best SharePoint consulting firms that are off to a good start in 2015. Read the full list in their story, “10 Top SharePoint Development Firms Named By bestwebdesignagencies.com for January 2015.”

The article begins:

“bestwebdesignagencies.com has named the ten best SharePoint consulting companies for the month of January 2015. The ratings consist of web design solution providers which have years of experience in providing remarkable solutions. The ratings are created through a thorough examination process which involves the inspection and benchmarking of top competing companies to establish which are most effective at supplying their solutions.”

This proves that there is a great need for extra help when it comes to SharePoint installations. Stephen E. Arnold provides some of that help to his readers on his Web site ArnoldIT.com. He has made a career out of all things search, including SharePoint. In fact, his SharePoint feed highlights the latest news, tips, and tricks that user and managers will find helpful when trying to navigate a SharePoint installation, on any budget.

Emily Rae Aldridge, February 12, 2015

Looking Beyond SharePoint

January 22, 2015

SharePoint owns a lion’s share of the enterprise market. While it is largely undisputed, there are products out there that seek to make a name within the marketplace. M-Files is an option that has made a few headlines. Read more about the product from one proponent in the ZDNet article, “M-Files: A better SharePoint than SharePoint.”

The article begins:

“Although Microsoft’s SharePoint has been around for 14 years, it isn’t the best CMS product on the market. As a SharePoint Administrator myself, I can tell you firsthand that there has to be something better. My interview with M-Files convinced me that there indeed is something better. While this post isn’t a review, I do want to point out M-Files’ compelling features to you as I saw them during the presentation. Often we use products because they are the ‘accepted standards’ and we explore no further.”

Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in enterprise and often covers SharePoint on his Web service, ArnoldIT.com. He even has a dedicated SharePoint feed to cover the ups and downs of the service. And while SharePoint does have many strong points and is the largest contender in the market, many of its idiosyncrasies are the reason why some customers are looking elsewhere.

Emily Rae Aldridge, January 22, 2015

A New Partnership For Better Organization

October 28, 2014

Partnerships offer companies ways to improve their product quality and create new ones. Semantic Web reports that “Expert System And WAND Partner For A More Effective Management Of Enterprise Information.” Expert System is a leading semantic technology company and WAND is known for its enterprise taxonomies. Their new partnership will allow businesses to have a better and more accurate way to organize data.

Each company brings unique features to the partnership:

“The combination of the strengths of each company, on one side WAND’s unique expertise in the development of enterprise taxonomies and Expert System’s Cogito on the other side with its unique capability to analyze written text based on the comprehension of the meaning of each word, not only ensures the highest quality possible, but also opens up the opportunity to tackle the complexity of enterprise information management. With this new joint offer, companies will finally have full support for a faster and flexible information management process and immediate access to strategic information.”

Enterprise management teams are going to get excited about how Expert System and WAND will improve taxonomy selection and have more native integration with in-place data systems. One of the ways the two will combine their strengths is with the new automatic classification: when a WAND taxonomy is selecting, Expert System brings in its semantic based categorization rules and an engine for automatic categorization.

Whitney Grace, October 28, 2014
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Connecting Enterprise Content Management to SharePoint

October 23, 2014

In the enterprise, anything that makes creating connections easier is a necessity. And it seems that open source has had a greater and greater role to play in facilitating connections between content, especially in conjunction with SharePoint. The latest news comes out of CMS Wire in their article, “Alfresco Connects ECMs To SharePoint.”

The article begins:

“Alfresco just reaffirmed its good-guy enterprise content management (ECM) credentials. It’s contributing an open source integration called Chemistry Pars to the Apache Software Foundation. Using Chemistry Parts, enterprises will be able to connect Microsoft SharePoint to just about any major ECM system on the market — including Alfresco, obviously — using the open standard Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS).”

Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime leader in search with an interest in SharePoint. He maintains ArnoldIT.com and created a separate SharePoint feed for those who need to keep up with all the latest news, tips, and tricks. Keep an eye out for all the latest industry updates. Arnold will make them available.

Emily Rae Aldridge, October 23, 2014

Android in the Enterprise

September 16, 2014

Can a deal with HP help Google’s Android catch up to Apple’s iOS in the business market? According to Business Insider, “Google Is Chasing Apple’s Mega Deal with IBM.” The potential deal is said to revolve around Google Now, which would serve as a voice-search tool for company information. Considering Apple’s recent partnership with IBM, the timing here is interesting. However, despite the certainty implied in the BI headline, Google seems to be playing it cool. Writer Eugene Kim reports:

“The report [at the paywall-guarded site The Information] said the two companies have been in talks for about a year now, though Google hasn’t shown as much interest in the deal so far. But HP could be a potential partner since it has deep roots in enterprise clients and has been developing a mobile search product nicknamed ‘Enterprise Siri,’ according to the report.

“In fact, HP had discussed the ‘Enterprise Siri’ idea with Apple earlier this year, before Apple announced its partnership with IBM last month, the report said. It also said HP at one point pitched the idea of building a Nexus phone for businesses, with advanced encryption features, which was turned down by then-Android head, Andy Rubin.”

So, as of this writing we don’t really know whether this deal will go through. One thing seems certain—Google will have to do something if it wants to catch up to Apple in the enterprise. Is this deal with HP the answer, or is the famously innovative company eyeing some other solution(s)?

Cynthia Murrell, September 16, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Google and Findability without the Complexity

July 28, 2014

Shortly after writing the first draft of Google: The Digital Gutenberg, “Enterprise Findability without the Complexity” became available on the Google Web site. You can find this eight page polemic at http://bit.ly/1rKwyhd or you can search for the title on—what else?—Google.com.

Six years after the document became available, Google’s anonymous marketer/writer raised several interesting points about enterprise search. The document appeared just as the enterprise search sector was undergoing another major transformation. Fast Search & Transfer struggled to deliver robust revenues and a few months before the Google document became available, Microsoft paid $1.2 billion for what was another enterprise search flame out. As you may recall, in 2008, Convera was essentially non operational as an enterprise search vendor. In 2005, Autonomy bought the once high flying Verity and was exerting its considerable management talent to become the first enterprise search vendor to top $500 million in revenues. Endeca was flush with Intel and SAP cash, passing on other types of financial instruments due to the economic downturn. Endeca lagged behind Autonomy in revenues and there was little hope that Endeca could close the gap between it and Autonomy.

Secondary enterprise search companies were struggling to generate robust top line revenues. Enterprise search was not a popular term. Companies from Coveo to Sphinx sought to describe their information retrieval systems in terms of functions like customer support or database access to content stored in MySQL. Vivisimo donned a variety of descriptions, culminating in its “reinvention” as a Big Data tool, not a metasearch system with a nifty on the fly clustering algorithm. IBM was becoming more infatuated with open source search as a way to shift development an bug fixes to a “community” working for the benefit of other like minded developers.

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Google’s depiction of the complexity of traditional enterprise search solutions. The GSA is, of course, less complex—at least on the surface exposed to an administrator.

Google’s Findability document identified a number of important problems associated with traditional enterprise search solutions. To Google’s credit, the company did not point out that the majority of enterprise search vendors (regardless of the verbal plumage used to describe information retrieval) were either losing money or engaged in a somewhat frantic quest for financing and sales).

Here are the issues Google highlighted:

  • User of search systems are frustrated
  • Enterprise search is complex. Google used the word “daunting”, which was and still is accurate
  • Few systems handle file shares, Intranets, databases, content management systems, and real time business applications with aplomb. Of course, the Google enterprise search solution does deliver on these points, asserted Google.

Furthermore, Google provides integrated search results. The idea is that structured and unstructured information from different sources are presented in a form that Google called “integrated search results.”

Google also emphasized a personalized experience. Due to the marketing nature of the Findability document, Google did not point out that personalization was a feature of information retrieval systems lashed to an alert and work flow component. Fulcrum Technologies offered a clumsy option for personalization. iPhrase improved on the approach. Even Endeca supported roles, important for the company’s work at Fidelity Investments in the UK. But for Google, most enterprise search systems were not personalizing with Google aplomb.

Google then trotted out the old chestnuts gleaned from a lunch discussion with other Googlers and sifting competitors’ assertions, consultants’ pronouncements, and beliefs about search that seemed to be self-evident truths; for example:

  • Improved customer service
  • Speeding innovation
  • Reducing information technology costs
  • Accelerating adoption of search by employees who don’t get with the program.

Google concluded the Findability document with what has become a touchstone for the value of the Google Search Appliance. Kimberly Clark, “a global health and hygiene company,” reduced administrative costs for indexing 22 million documents. The costs of the Google Search Appliance, the consultant fees, and the extras like GSA fail over provisions were not mentioned. Hard numbers, even for Google, are not part of the important stuff about enterprise search.

One interesting semantic feature caught my attention. Google does not use the word knowledge in this 2008 document.

Several questions:

  1. Was Google unaware of the fusion of information retrieval and knowledge?
  2. Does the Google Search Appliance deliver a laundry list of results, not knowledge? (A GSA user has to scan the results, click on links, and figure out what’s important to the matter at hand, so the word “knowledge” is inappropriate.)
  3. Why did Google sidestep providing concrete information about costs, productivity, and the value of indexing more content that is allegedly germane to a “personalized” search experience? Are there data to support the implicit assertion “more is better.” Returning more results may mean that the poor user has to do more digging to find useful information. What about a few, on point results? Well, that’s not what today’s technology delivers. It is a fiction about which vendors and customers seem to suspend disbelief.

With a few minor edits—for example, a genuflection to “knowledge—this 2008 Findability essay is as fresh today as it was when Google output its PDF version.

Several observations:

First, the freshness of the Findability paper underscores the staleness and stasis of enterprise search in the past six years. If you scan the free search vendor profiles at www.xenky.com/vendor-profiles, explanations of the benefits and functions of search from the 1980s are also applicable today. Search, the enterprise variety, seems to be like a Grecian urn which “time cannot wither.”

Second, the assertions about the strengths and weaknesses of search were and still are presented without supporting facts. Everyone in the enterprise search business recycles the same cant. The approach reminds me of my experience questioning a member of a sect. The answer “It just is…” is simply not good enough.

Third, the Google Search Appliance has become a solution that costs as much, if not more, than other big dollar systems. Just run a query for the Google Search Appliance on www.gsaadvantage.gov and check out the options and pricing. Little wonder than low cost solutions—whether they are better or worse than expensive systems—are in vogue. Elasticsearch and Searchdaimon can be downloaded without charge. A hosted version is available from Qbox.com and is relatively free of headaches and seven figure charges.

Net net: Enterprise search is going to have to come up with some compelling arguments to gain momentum in a world of Big Data, open source, and once burned twice shy buyers. I wonder why venture / investment firms continue to pump money into what is same old search packaged with decades old lingo.

I suppose the idea that a venture funded operation like Attivio, BA Insight, Coveo, or any other company pitching information access will become the next Google is powerful. The problem is that Google does not seem capable of making its own enterprise search solution into another Google.

This is indeed interesting.

Stephen E Arnold, July 28, 2014

Big Data for Enterprise Logistics

June 26, 2014

The complex field of logistics and transport management is one that can surely benefit from data analysis. Inbound Logistics brings the benefits to the attention of its readers in, “Big Data Tools Enable Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics.” Writer Shannon Vaillancourt advises that, since the cost of implementing data systems has decreased, now is the time for companies to leverage these tools to understand and adjust their transportation patterns. He writes:

“By leveraging the big data tools that are becoming more prevalent, companies can quickly spot trends that would otherwise have gone unnoticed. Many people are under the impression that big data only refers to a large amount of data. The second definition of big data is that the dataset is too difficult to process using traditional data processing applications. When it comes to supply chain operations, many large companies are still dependent on using a spreadsheet to manage a very complex global part of the business.

“With big data tools, shippers can move past the business intelligence side of measuring and diagnosing, and move into the predictive and prescriptive side. A big data tool will allow transportation teams to have fewer experienced supply chain staff members, because the data will be more actionable.”

Stewart seems to acknowledge the shortfalls of current prescriptive algorithms; he reassures readers that the prescriptive side will be more useful as the technology evolves. Right now, we know it as the algorithm that tells us to buy more stuff at Amazon. Someday soon, though, it might accurately tell a manager which means of transport will most efficiently get a certain shipment to its destination.

It is interesting to watch as the big data trend spreads into different industries. As the hype fades, more of the truly useful applications will become clear.

Cynthia Murrell, June 26, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Free Trial of X1 Enterprise Client

June 3, 2014

X1 is offering a free fourteen-day trial of their desktop search engine, X1 Enterprise Client. Read more in the sneak preview:

“X1 Enterprise Client is a desktop search engine that automatically indexes files, email messages and contacts on your computer and returns instant results for your keyword searches. The results are organized in a tabbed interface, sorted by file type and provide a quick preview for most common file types including images, PDF files, Office files, ZIP files and many other formats. You can directly interact with the results by replying to emails, sending messages to contacts, opening files, playing music and also send any file as email attachment with the click of a button.”

This product could be a good investment for those who are not exactly careful as they label, name, and store files. Effective keyword search is the most useful tool in light of bad or nonexistent indexing. If you need a little more search in your workflow, and you do not want to be the one to impose the order, a solution like X1 Enterprise Client might be worth considering.

Emily Rae Aldridge, June 03, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Interview with Jeff Catlin on the Future of Enterprise Data

May 22, 2014

The interview titled Text Analytics 2014: Jeff Catlin, Lexalytics on Breakthrough Analysis may be overstating its case when it is billed as a breakthrough analysis. Most of the questions cover state-of-the-industry topics and Lexalytics promotion. Catlin offers insight into the world of enterprise data and the future of the industry. For example, when asked about new features for 2014 and the near future, Catlin responded,

“As a company, Lexalytics is tackling both the basic improvements and the new features with a major new release, Sallience 6.0 which will be landing sometime in the second half of the year. The core text processing and grammatic parsing of the content will improve significantly, which will in turn enhance all of our core features of the engine. Additionally, this improved grammatic understanding will allow us to be the key to detecting intention, which is the big new feature in Salience 6.0”

Catlin repeats in several of his answers that the industry is in flux, and that vendors can only scramble to keep up, even going so far as to compare 2013 and 2014 enterprise data to the Berlin Wall. He describes two “fronts”, one involving improving core technology, and the other focused on vertical market prospects.

Chelsea Kerwin, May 22, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

MarkLogic Platform Now Supports JavaScript, JSON and Node.js

May 6, 2014

We learn that MarkLogic has become more supportive from the announcement, “MarkLogic Enhances Enterprise NoSQL Database Platform with Support for JavaScript and JSON” at Yahoo Finance. The press release tells us:

“With support for JavaScript and JSON at every tier, developers can create applications using a language and data format they are familiar with while being assured that the database platform will pass the scrutiny of IT operations and risk management. JavaScript expands the current list of languages that MarkLogic supports, including Java, PHP, C#, Ruby, Python, C++, C, Perl, SQL, and XQuery.

“The MarkLogic Node.js client will give developers a simple and agile way to use MarkLogic, while server-side JavaScript support will deliver the ultimate in performance and flexibility. With JavaScript and JSON at the core of the schema-agnostic, horizontally scalable and elastic architecture, developers can build, revise and deploy applications across multiple systems consistently, while being able to combine JSON, XML, binary, text and Semantic triples in the same database.”

The write-up emphasizes that MarkLogic’s Enterprise NoSQL database platform already offers high-quality integrated search, disaster recovery, and “government-grade” security, among other advantages. See the post for details, or navigate straight to MarkLogic‘s site for more info. The company is headquartered in San Carlos, California, and maintains offices around the world. Some of its high-profile clients include Citigroup, Boeing, and Warner Brothers.

Cynthia Murrell, May 06, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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