The Equivalent of a Brexit

August 31, 2016

Britain’s historical vote to leave the European Union has set a historical precedent.  What is the precedent however?  Is it the choice to leave an organization?  The choice to maintain their independence?  Or is it a basic example of the right to choose?  The Brexit will be used as a metaphor for any major upheaval for the next century, so how can it be used in technology context?  BA Insight gives us the answer with “Would Your Users Vote ‘Yes’ For Sharexit?”

SharePoint is Microsoft Office’s collaborative content management program.  It can be used to organize projects, build Web sites, store files, and allow team members to communicate.  Office workers also spurn it across the globe over due to its inefficiencies.  To avoid a Sharexit in your organization, the article offers several ways to improve a user’s SharePoint experience.  One of the easiest ways to keep SharePoint is to build an individual user interface that handles little tasks to make a user’s life easier.  Personalizing the individual SharePoint user experience is another method, so the end user does not feel like another cog in the system but rather that SharePoint was designed for them.  Two other suggestions are plain, simple advice: take user feedback and actually use it and make SharePoint the go information center for the organization by putting everything on it.

Perhaps the best advice is making information easy to find on SharePoint:

Documents are over here, discussions over there, people are that way, and then I don’t know who the experts really are.  You can make your Intranet a whole lot smarter, or dare we say “intelligent”, if you take advantage of this information in an integrated fashion, exposing your users to connected, but different, information.  You can connect documents to the person who wrote them, then to that person’s expertise and connected colleagues, enabling search for your hidden experts. The ones that can really be helpful often reduce chances for misinformation, repetition of work, or errors. To do this, expertise location capabilities can combine contributed expertise with stated expertise, allowing for easy searching and expert identification.

Developers love SharePoint because it is easy to manage and to roll out information or software to every user.  End users hate it because it creates more problems than resolving anything.  If developers take the time to listen to what the end users need from their SharePoint experience than can avoid an Sharexit.

Whitney Grace, August 31, 2016
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

SharePoint and Business Intelligence Data

August 4, 2016

Lucky for me one of my dogs is a member of TechTarget. I was able to read “Three Ways to Import Power BI Data into SharePoint.” The headline caught my attention because I had just checked out the wild and crazy assertions Recommind made for importing Encase data into its patented Autonomy IDOL like system. The trick is to pay extra for the connector.

Well, no need to spend more money with SharePoint because it can import data from Microsoft’s own business intelligence systems and even urls. Now before you jump up and down about importing data from urls, keep in mind that urls often present some darned exciting information to users. Importing directly can be a thrilling experience. Make sure you have taken a deep breath and have plenty of space for the exceptions and, of course, the data.

The write up presents two methods which strike me as a bit more straightforward. One can import business intelligence data from Excel. There you do. A SharePoint installation can use Excel data. I am not eager to fiddle with the results of the import because some text, programmatic instructions, and the Fancy Dan formatting can produce interesting results. But, hey, the write up says it works. Set aside some extra time to twiddle the resulting information.

The third approach is more interesting. The use case involves importing “raw data.” Here’s the really clever trick, gentle reader:

The report data can be saved as a comma-separated values file. Now, simply upload the CSV file to a SharePoint list within your team site.

I am not sure my understanding of “raw data” corresponds to information in a report, but what do I know? Not much.

What’s remarkable is that SharePoint, after all these years of hyperbole, does not provide seamless data interchange among Microsoft’s own products. Never fear. When the import does not produce information usable in SharePoint, just call a Gold Certified consultant. That’s a user friendly way to deal with a really unusual task like sharing information with SharePoint.

Ah, Microsoft. Ask Cortana for help in locating an expert who can do the sharing thing.

Stephen E Arnold, August 4, 2016

A Hefty Guide to Setting up SharePoint 2013 Enterprise Search Center

March 8, 2016

The how-to guide titled Customizing SharePoint 2013 Search Center on Code Project provides a lengthy, detailed explanation (with pictures) of the new features of SharePoint 2013, an integration of the 2010 version and Microsoft FAST search. The article offers insights into certain concepts of the program such as crawled properties and managed properties before introducing step-by-step navigation for customizing the result page and Display template, as well as other areas of Sharepoint. The article includes such tips as this,

“Query rules allow you to modify the users keyword search based on a condition. Let’s say when the user types Developer, we want to retrieve only the books which have BookCategory as Developer and if they type ‘IT Pro’, we only want to retrieve the Administrator related books.”

Nine steps later, you have a neat little result block with the matching items. The article outlines similar processes for Customizing the Search Center, Modifying the Search Center, Adding the Results Page to the Navigation, and Creating the Result Source. This leads us to ask, Shouldn’t this be easier by now? Customizing a program so that it looks and acts the way we expect seems like pretty basic setup, so why does it take 100+ steps to tailor SharePoint 2013?

 

Chelsea Kerwin, March 8, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

 

The Progress and Obstacles for Microsoft Delve When It Comes to On-Premise Search

March 7, 2016

The article titled Microsoft Delve Faces Challenges in Enterprise Search Role on Search Content Management posits that Microsoft Delve could use some serious enhancements to ensure that it functions as well with on-premises data as it does with data from the cloud. Delve is an exciting step forward, an enterprise-wide search engine that relies on machine learning to deliver relevant results. The article even goes so far as to call it a “digital assistant” that can make decisions based on an analysis of previous requests and preferences. But there is a downside, and the article explains it,

“Microsoft Delve isn’t being used to its full potential. Deployed within the cloud-based Office 365 (O365) environment, it can monitor activity and retrieve information from SharePoint, OneDrive and Outlook in a single pass — and that’s pretty impressive. But few organizations have migrated their entire enterprise to O365, and a majority never will: Hybrid deployments and blending cloud systems with on-premises platforms are the norm… if an organization has mostly on-premises data, its search results will always be incomplete.”

With a new version of Delve in the works at Microsoft, the message has already been received. According to the article, the hybrid Delve will be the first on-premise product based on SharePoint Online. You can almost hear the content management specialists holding their breaths for an integrated cloud and on-premise architecture for search.

 

Chelsea Kerwin, March 7, 2016

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Microsoft Upgrades Test New Search Feature

September 23, 2015

It is here at last! After several years, Microsoft has finally upgrades its SharePoint and it comes with an exciting list of brand new features.  That is not all Microsoft released an upgrade for; Microsoft’s new cloud hybrid search also has a beta.  PC World examines the new Microsoft betas in the article, “Microsoft Tests SharePoint 2014 And Enterprise Cloud Hybrid Search.”

SharePoint, the popular collaborative content platform, is getting well deserved upgrade that will allow users to finally upload files up to ten gigabytes, a new App Launcher for easier accessibility for applications, simplified file sharing controls, and better accessibility on mobile devices.  As with all Microsoft upgrades, however, it is recommended that SharePoint 2016 is not downloaded into the product environment.

The new cloud hybrid search will make it easier for users to locate files across various Office 365 programs:

“On top of the SharePoint beta, Microsoft’s new cloud hybrid search feature will allow Office 365 users who also run on-premises SharePoint servers to easily access both the files stored in their company’s servers as well as those stored in Microsoft’s cloud. This means that Microsoft Delve, which gives users an at-a-glance view of their team members’ work, can show files that are stored in a company’s servers and in Microsoft’s servers side by side.”

The new search feature will ease server’s workload for creating and maintaining search indices.  Microsoft is encouraging organizations to switch to its cloud services, but it still offers products and support for on-site packages.

While the cloud offers many conveniences, such as quick access to files and for users to be able to work from any location, the search function will increase an ease of use.  However, security is still a concern for many organizations that prefer to maintain on-site servers.

Whitney Grace, September 23, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Coveo: A Real Life Search Implementation Success

September 11, 2015

If we detect some serious Coveo cheerleading in this recent article found on RT Insights, that might be because the story originated at that company. Still, “How Real-Time Enterprise Search Helps Seal Financial Deals” does illustrate the advantages of consolidating data resources into a more easily-used system.

The write-up describes challenges faced by London investment firm 3i Group. The global company had been collecting an abundance of data about its clients’ deals, but was spending many worker hours retrieving that information from scattered repositories. Coveo Enterprise Search to the rescue! The platform implementation included a user-friendly UI, actionable analytics, and security measures. The article continues:

“As a result of the implementation, 3i Group reports 90 percent faster access to deal-related intelligence as well as a 20 percent reduction in staff and resources required to respond to compliance requests. 3i Group’s staff members use the platform to search across 3.66 million file share documents, 6.39 million Exchange emails, 897,000 SharePoint documents, and 107 million Enterprise Vault records. For the first time, 3i Group staff members are able to perform a single search across all of the company’s knowledge repositories by using either a browser-based interface or an integrated search interface within SharePoint. 3i Group’s compliance team was provided with a dashboard that enabled them to search and correlate content from across 3i Group’s entire data set, and quickly evaluate permissions and user access rights for every 3i Group record or knowledge asset.”

Founded in 2005, Coveo maintains offices in California and the Netherlands, with its R&D headquarters in Quebec. (The company is also hiring as of this writing.)There is no doubt that being able to reach and analyze all data from one dashboard can be a huge time-saver, especially for a large organization. Just remember that Coveo is but one of several strong options; some are even open source.

Cynthia Murrell, September 11, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Sinequa and Microsoft SharePoint: The Emperor Has No Search!

September 9, 2015

The French are endlessly entertaining. A number of information access outfits have emerged from the super sophisticated French academic machine. Most of these outfits are mostly unknown outside of France. I am not sure about the reason. For example, have you been keeping pace with the push of Antidot, Dassault Exalead, and Polyspot into the US market? Are you tracking the Spotter acquisition? What about the open source search solutions available?

I was in the wilds of Canada. A reader sent me a link to a LinkedIn thread about Gartner’s absolutely fantastic analyses of enterprise search. (Nope, don’t fret. I won’t rehash my earlier comments about this brilliant piece of work. I will not remind you that the report omitted a few outfits.)

On with the mission.

The post was/is “Don’t Forget These Solutions That Did NOT Qualify for 2015 Gartner MQ on Enterprise Search” and written by a professional at the consulting firm Search Technologies. (Search Technologies has some of its roots in the Excalibur/ConQuest/Convera era I believe). The “MQ” is the author’s way of referencing the Gartner Magic Quadrant. Yes, indeed, it is magic.

The author pointed out that Gartner ignored based on its extensive quantitative and poetical analyses Endeca (an Oracle outfit), Microsoft SharePoint (owner of the outstanding Fast Search & Transfer Technology from the late 1990s), Elasticsearch (which is now Elastic and inking deals in second string outfits like Goldman Sachs), and MarkLogic (which I think may be a data management system).

The meat of the thread was this comment by one of France’s most prescient experts on information access, who is also hooked up with Sinequa and presumably reflects the collective insight of that firm, which was founded in 2002.

Sinequa wrote:

Sorry, Graham but SharePoint is not an enterprise search platform. [Editor: We fixed the punctuation and spelling of SharePoint, gentle reader.]

Okay, there you have it. Two outfits disagree about search in SharePoint. Both are in the search game. Both are clearly wizards and mavens in the search thing.

I would humbly submit that Microsoft indeed does offer search in SharePoint. The methods can be mind breakers. See, for example, this write up about crawled properties in SharePoint 2013.

Better yet, check out the “Search in SharePoint 2013” from the horse’s mouth or as Donald Trump prefers, the horse’s whatever.

I want to reflect on what the statement “Sorry, Graham but SharePoint is not an enterprise search platform.”

My thoughts are:

  1. Sinequa is an enterprise search platform. If SharePoint is not an enterprise search platform, therefore, you, gentle reader, must license the French system Sinequa to deliver you to information access heaven. If you sign the deal in Paris, you may be delivered to an okay French restaurant.
  2. SharePoint is a box of Legos. Once a licensee builds something like a content management system for employees, there is absolutely no way whatsoever to look up if the person in the next cube or on contract and working from Starbuck’s is in the system. Wrong. Dear, dear Microsoft provides. Goodness, even Windows 10 offers a way to find a person if an expert has cracked the SharePoint and Windows 10 permissions and access codes.
  3. Sinequa is just reminding a consultant that real information access vendors do not make silly mistakes. I find that when I mispronounce a French word or phrase, native French speakers are ever so helpful. My fave is faire le pont, which means take more days off.

Why do I trouble myself to write this?

First, the silliness of arguing with the Gartner’s mathematical analyses of enterprise search vendors warrants not one whit of criticism. Perfection has been attained. This is not a European Philae lander bounce around thing.

Second, Sinequa feels strongly that Graham definitely needs to be set straight. Who better than a vendor of information access systems which was sidestepped by Microsoft when it was tire kicking before the 2008 Fast Search acquisition? Is there a sour French whine?

Third, LinkedIn loves these threads which attract a robust two comments. There are so many LinkedIn members involved in enterprise search. I mean two comments. Be still my heart.

What’s that say about Gartner? What’s that say about enterprise search? What’s that say about LinkedIn?

Answer: Three Michelin stars for paupiettes de porc.

Stephen E Arnold, September 9, 2015

Oracle Suggests a PeopleSoft Upgrade

September 2, 2015

PeopleSoft is a popular human resources management software and like all software it occasionally needs to be upgraded.  TriCore Solutions suggests that instead of using Verity, your next upgrade to PeopleSoft should be the Oracle Secure Enterprise Search (SES).  TriCore Solutions brags about helping clients upgrade to SES in the article, “Oracle Secure Enterprise Search (SES) And PeopleSoft 9.2.”

Oracle SES offers a secure, high-quality search across all enterprise platforms as well as analytics, intuitive search interface, secure crawling, indexing, and searching.  When SES is deployed into an enterprise system it also offers several key capabilities:

  • “Connectivity to Legacy Repositories. SES allows companies to access their most valuable assets – information about its specific business, its processes, products, customers, and documents that previously resided in proprietary repositories. Connectors include interfaces for EMC Documentum, Microsoft SharePoint, IBM Lotus Notes, Oracle‘s E-Business Suite and Oracle Siebel among others.

 

  • Security: The ability to search password protected sources securely. Oracle‘s search technology provides single-sign-on (SSO) based security where available, and can also employ application-specific security where SSO is not available.

 

  • High quality search results: Brings for the Intranet a high level of relevance that users associate with Internet searches.

 

  • Going beyond keywords. As the volume of information grows, users need advanced search techniques like the ability to categorize and cluster search results for iterative navigation.”

It is evident that Oracle SES offers a comprehensive search feature to PeopleSoft and maybe a better product, but what does Verity have to offer?

 

Whitney Grace, September 2, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Yammer Improvements and Changes on the Horizon

August 27, 2015

A few years ago, Yammer was an integral part of SharePoint’s marketing campaign as they sought to persuade users that they were moving toward a focus on social. With the upcoming release of SharePoint 2016, social is still important, although it feels less forced and more natural this time around. There will be changes to Yammer and Redmond Magazine covers it in their article, “Microsoft Announces Yammer Improvements To Come While Deprecating Some Yammer SharePoint Apps.”

The article says:

“Microsoft announced this week that it is working on a more team-oriented Yammer, and it will be bringing along some mobile app improvements, too. Yammer is Microsoft’s enterprise-grade social networking application that’s part of some Office 365 subscription plans. Yammer can be used as a standalone service, but it’s also used with SharePoint Server products and SharePoint Online implementations.”

To stay current on what else may change with the release of SharePoint Server 2016, stay tuned to ArnoldIT.com. Stephen E. Arnold is an expert on search and the enterprise. His dedicated SharePoint feed is a great way to stay up to date on the latest new surrounding SharePoint.

Emily Rae Aldridge, August 27, 2015

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

Machine Learning Resolves Enterprise Search

August 26, 2015

One of the main topics of discussion on Beyond Search is enterprise search.  We always try to find the juicy details behind enterprise search’s development, groundbreaking endeavors, and problems that search experts need to be aware of.  One thing we can all agree on is that enterprise search is full of problems.  The question is will all of enterprise search’s problems ever be solved?

Ron Miller proposed a possible solution on TechTarget’s Search Content Management blog, “Will Machine Learning Revamp Enterprise Search Software?”  Machine learning offers a bevy of solutions for many industries and what is very intriguing about the process is that we have yet to scratch the surface of its possible applications.  Miller points out that machine learning should deliver more accurate and broader search results than the traditional search index.

Miller imagines this scenario:

“I think we’re going to see tools where the machine can automatically generate results, based on what the user is working on. The information could perhaps populate onto a split screen, suggesting additional information that could potentially be helpful for the user, and then apply machine learning to the user’s response.”

He suggests machine learning driven enterprise search will anticipate a user’s information need and even help shape their daily work routine.  These are very feasible conjectures and machine learning has already shaped such industries as the medical field and engineering.  The main item to ask is when will machine learning become inexpensive enough to implement in enterprise search?

Whitney Grace, August 26, 2015
Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph

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