Opportunities Intersect Challenges with SharePoint

June 17, 2014

Probably the most all-encompassing challenge facing SharePoint is the tension between the user experience provided by consumer level technology (mobile, social, cloud, etc. etc.) and the limitations of enterprise level technology. SharePoint knows its weaknesses and strives to overcome them, but change is slow. Read more in the eCommerceTimes article, “Microsoft SharePoint’s Crossroads: Where Opportunities, Challenges Meet.”

The article sums up the problem:

“As consumer-based technologies, which are primarily out in the cloud, have progressed, organizations want to focus less on infrastructure and focus more on actual business systems. End users on the other side of that want their corporate solutions to match more closely to their personal habits, to their personal tools. They’re doing everything in the cloud, everything via a mobile phone.”

And in this current scenario there are lots of opportunities present for SharePoint, and yet within them, many challenges. SharePoint is a large ship, so to speak, and is therefore slow to turn. Furthermore, they are restricted by their update plan, which thus far has provided a major overhaul every 3 years instead of their competitors’ continual, smaller improvements. Stephen E. Arnold knows this strengths and weaknesses well, and reports on them through his Web service, ArnoldIT.com. Having made his life’s work about search, Arnold’s SharePoint feed serves to inform end users and managers about tips, tricks, add-ons, and shortcuts that can make life easier.

Emily Rae Aldridge, June 17, 2014

Next Feature of Nuance Promises Network of Connected Devices

March 27, 2014

The article on Nuance titled Experience a More Human Conversation Through Nuance Cloud Service begins with some reflections on the 2014 Mobile World Congress. Effortlessness is the rallying-cry of mobile consumers- they want machines that not only hear but understand. The article explains,

“To help brands and developers worldwide support this need, Nuance recently announced Nuance Cloud Services, a cloud platform that defines the user experiences of some of the largest and most well-respected brands by transforming them into intelligent personal assistants that understand and engage with users on a simpler, more human level… In addition to our technologies, we’ve worked with content and technology partners to ensure that Nuance Cloud Services grants our partners access to a massive range of content and services.”

This means that through Nuance Cloud Services, streaming is possible no only on smartphones and tablets but with smart TVs, as well as connected cars and PCs. The network that this creates informs the intelligent virtual assistant of the users preferences over time. Nuance also promises depth of customization to satisfy the desires of any partner brand. The search function for Nuance’s What’s Next feature is offline. This is all well and good, but it sounds more like what is happening now then in the future. So what is next? Maybe search that works?

Chelsea Kerwin, March 27, 2014

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Webinar to Improve SharePoint Document Viewing

March 26, 2014

Webinars are a classic professional development option, but can be especially helpful when needing to brush up on the details and ins and outs of SharePoint. CMS Wire offers a good selection and they will be offering a helpful one today. Read more on their event calendar, “(Webinar) Make SharePoint Document Viewing Easier with HTML 5.

The overview of the program says:

“By integrating an HTML5 document viewer with SharePoint 2013, you enable your users to easily display almost any document file type right from a SharePoint list, through a consistent, easy-to-use interface with search, annotation, redaction, and DRM tools. Your users don’t need any special software on their devices—all they need is an HTML5 browser, even on mobile—and their documents show up fast, through any connection type.”

This type of upgrade to the document viewer could be really essential in improving user experience for your users. Saving users clicks and helping them stay within SharePoint to open documents means saving them time and improving user satisfaction. Stephen E. Arnold is a longtime follower of search and reports many of his observations on ArnoldIT.com. He finds that a successful SharePoint deployment is one that is efficient and customized, so taking the time to learn and implement tricks like these really do make all the difference.

Emily Rae Aldridge, March 26, 2014

DIY SharePoint Site Usability

November 27, 2013

There is always enough SharePoint chatter to keep enterprise experts at every level occupied. And a current popular topic of conversation is SharePoint usability. CMS Wire continues the conversation in their article, “The Missing Link in SharePoint Site Usability.”

The author writes:

“The topic of SharePoint site usability never grows old. With every new version of SharePoint that comes out, Microsoft has touted that it is extremely intuitive and easy to use, and judging from the number of licenses sold, many organizations seem to have bought into this myth. What they are not told is what it actually takes to make SharePoint sites user-friendly.”

Customization, customization, customization. That’s what it takes to make SharePoints sites user-friendly. And customization is costly. Most people just can’t make do anymore with a bare bones SharePoint implementation. Organizations are looking to third party add-ons to round out their installation. Stephen E. Arnold, a longtime enterprise expert and man behind ArnoldIT.com, relays this message frequently. Stay tuned to ArnoldIT for ways to enhance or replace a SharePoint implementation, depending on your organization’s needs.

Emily Rae Aldridge, November 27, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Is It Time to Jettison the Jargon Intuitive?

April 9, 2013

Search vendors, who have embraced facets and visualization, are no strangers to the concept of the “intuitive” user interface. Now, that idea is getting some push-back in a piece at the MIT Technology Review, “I’m Boycotting ‘Intuitive’ Interfaces.” It isn’t the slick and/or easy-to-use UIs themselves that writer John Pavlus has a problem with, but the impression that these designs just somehow “feel natural.” He writes:

“[Jef] Raskin points out (and any HCI expert or UI designer worth her salt will already know this) that ‘intuitive’ is just a sloppy quasi-synonym for ‘familiar.’ If you don’t feel like you have to learn how to use a tool–that you ‘just get it,’ that you ‘already know,’ or ‘it just works’–then it feels like it’s magically tapping into your ineffable ‘intuition.’ It ain’t. You still have to learn how to use it. It’s just that the more familiar it is (or seems), the less you notice the effort of that learning (or the less effort there will be to begin with). A pen is ‘intuitive’ because you’ve used a zillion pens, pencils, crayons, markers, and stick-shaped inscriptor-tools in your life. A computer mouse is ‘intuitive’ for the same reason (if you were born in or after my generation). If you grew up 500 years ago in an agrarian society, you might think a plow or a scythe was pretty [darned] intuitive. Would you know what the $#*& to do with a plow if I put it in your hands right now?”

The man has a point. So what, one might ask, why not let UI designers (and marketers) continue to throw around the word “intuitive” willy-nilly? Because, Pavlus insists, it sets up unrealistic expectations for users. Besides, he asserts, trying to minimize the learning curve distracts designers from what should be their top priority—facilitating connections between people. I’m not sure I’m on board with his boycott of the term, but I expect I will now hear the word “familiar” in my head whenever I hear or read “intuitive.”

Cynthia Murrell, April 09, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Navigation Misses the Point of Search and Retrieval

March 18, 2013

How does one become a sheeple? One answer is, “Accept search outputs without critical thinking.”

I don’t want to get into a squabble with the thinkers at Nielsen Norman Group. I suggest you read “Converting Search into Navigation” and then reflect on the fact that this was the basic premise of Endeca and then almost every other search vendor on the planet since the late 1990s. The idea is that users prefer to click than type queries or, better yet, have the system just tell the user what he or she wants without having to do so much as make a click.

Humans want information and most humans don’t want to expend much, if any, effort getting “answers.” In the late 1970s, I worked on a Booz, Allen & Hamilton study which revealed that managers in that pre-Internet Dark Age got information by asking the first person encountered in the hall, a person whom an executive could get on the phone, or by flipping through the old school trade magazines which once flowed into in boxes.

A happy quack to http://red-pill.org/are-you-one-of-the-sheeple-take-the-quiz/

What’s different today? According to the write up, as I understand it, not too much. The article asserts:

Users are incredibly bad at finding and researching things on the web. A few years ago, I characterized users’ research skills as “incompetent,” and they’ve only gotten worse over time. “Pathetic” and “useless” are words that come to mind after this year’s user testing.

There you go. When top quality minds like those Booz, Allen & Hamilton tried to hire took the path of least resistance almost 50 years ago, is it a big surprise that people are clueless when it comes to finding information?

The point of the article is that people who make interfaces have to design for mediocre searchers. Mediocre? How about terrible, clueless, inept, or naive? The article says:

… you should redirect users from a normal SERP to a category page only when their query is unambiguous and exactly matches the category. A search for “3D TV” could go to the subcategory page for these products, but a search for “3D” should generate a regular SERP. (Costco does this correctly, including both 3D televisions and other products relevant to the query.) Until people begin to grasp the complexities of search and develop skills accordingly, businesses that take such extra steps to help users find what they need will improve customer success — and the bottom line.

My view is just a little bit different and not parental like the preceding paragraph.

Read more

If Oracle RightNow Saved a Salesman

February 21, 2013

If only he had had access to Oracle’s RightNow, Willy Loman’s story might have ended differently. Is that what Greg Sirbu is trying to say when he evokes Arthur Miller’s 1949 opus Death of a Salesman? The literary allusion frames a fictional conversation in Perficient’s blog post, “When? Now? Yes! RightNow! You’ll Find it in the Cloud. . . .

Sirbu recasts Miller’s scene between the ill-fated Loman and his employer, Howard Wagner, as a modern-day conversation. This time, though, the Salesman is able to suggest their company (Widget, Inc.) adopt RightNow, Oracle‘s cloud-based customer experience platform. His pitch sounds a lot like Oracle’s promotional material, explaining the software’s features. The blog’s creator, Perficient, is eventually brought into the hypothetical dialogue:

“That sounds very complex Loman,” Howard said. “Our information technology staff is busy with many other projects, they may not have the time right now to bring what sounds like a great solution up-to-speed in a timely fashion.’

“Howard, we don’t need to worry about that,” Loman said. “Oracle has a solution implementation partner, Perficient, that can bring all the necessary consulting resources to bear to ensure that RightNow is structured just the way we need it built for our business.”

“Sounds like we need to explore RightNow, right now!” Wagner said.

Of course he did. Such a turn of events would have ruined Miller’s play, but that’s beside the point, I suppose. It is an interesting tactic; will enough readers recognize the name “Willy Loman” to make this an effective device?

Formed in 1998, Perficient offers their clients a competitive edge with a variety of Internet-based business technologies. With offices around the world, the company maintains its headquarters in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Cynthia Murrell, February 21, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

Complex Facebook Analytics Tool Available from Wolfram Alpha

January 22, 2013

Wolfram Alpha is famous for its knowledgeable tools and widgets that involve highly complex algorithms and computations. However, many may be surprised to hear about the Facebook analytics tool which is available from the systematic knowledge engine. The article “Use Wolfram Alpha to Dig Up Cool Statistics About Your Facebook Account [Weekly Facebook Tips]” on MakeUseOf tells readers how to get detailed facebook information about their account.

The article shares:

“With the Wolfram Alpha Facebook analytics tool, you can find out a huge amount of information about your Facebook account. It’s quite fun to see which of your posts or photos are the most popular, who your top commenters are, who is sharing your posts the most and more interesting tidbits. Plus, it’s easy to use this tool and completely free. Why not have a go?”

I decided to have a go with the Facebook tool, and was overwhelmed with the amount of detailed information I was provided. Wolfram Alpha told me everything from the moon phase at the time of my birth to statistical data about the top contributors on my page. Of course, all of this information is readily available to anyone with access to my page. This tool is fun, but may encourage others to consider resetting the privacy settings on their accounts.

Andrea Hayden, January 22, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

Updates On Customer Experience Management

January 21, 2013

Pulling from Customer Think, the article “Predictions For Customer Experience Management In 2013” discusses how the customer experience management have made great strides in the past three years. CEM used to solely focus on information fathering and finding insights in customer data (sounds like Big Data, right?). CEM now has more technology and methods at its fingertips to connect CEM users to its customers for real experiences. Two thousand thirteen will bring even more changes and the article predicts that solicited and social feedback will merge. CEM users must figure out how to take it, advantage of the two and possibly build a platform to manage it. Also immediate and real time feedback through mobile devices will be worth their weight in gold to gain consumer insights.

Here is the biggest change:

“Action at the Frontline Will Become Standard: While first-generation CEM software focused on capturing feedback, today’s CEM solutions go beyond understanding the customer experience. Now enterprises want CEM platforms that allow the frontline to connect feedback to action. In 2013, organizations will measure their CEM programs not just on response rates, but also on the closed loop and the business impact of closing the loop. The CEM solution of 2013 will directly (and not through complicated integration and years of IT projects) trigger, capture, and manage the action associated with feedback all the way to the frontline. CEOs need to make it their company’s mission to focus on the customer and even create a culture and the appropriate business measures and incentives to make it happen. But the people, who directly impact the customer’s experience, each and every day, are frontline employees. In 2013, the actions and influence of the frontline will grow, and consumers will feel the benefits.”

CEM makes sense when it comes to clothing, personal products, sport-related products, technology, etc., but what does it mean for software? Cheaper customer support systems? The article, applies more to physical products than digital.

Whitney Grace, January 21, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Beyond Search

Savanna Provides Model Enabled and User Generated Analysis

January 7, 2013

A powerful new suit of analytical tools has been released that allows for user-generated, model-enabled analysis. Savanna by Thetus places discoveries in meaningful context and is open and flexible, according to the product website. An article on SYS-CON Media, “Thetus Savanna: Powerful but Easy to Learn Analytic Tools,” describes the uses and capabilities of the new technology.

We learn the best ways to learn how to apply Savanna:

“It is very capable, and surprisingly easy to learn. This means once an enterprise has installed and configured Savanna very little (or no) training is required before the workforce can apply it. Organizations will definitely want to think through the best uses of Savanna, but even that is not hard. I recommend doing that two ways:  1) Watch some of the overview demos of Savanna on Youtube and 2) Watch the overview I built below that walks you through how I used it [...]”

We like the fact that the product allows users to perform analysis and author their findings in one place, as well as the ability to fit into existing infrastructures. Some good videos are available that overview the suite and are fairly approachable, including the one posted at the mentioned article: http://www.sys-con.com/node/2480874.

Andrea Hayden, January 07, 2013

Sponsored by ArnoldIT.com, developer of Augmentext

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