Findwise has recently published its annual report about Enterprise Search and Findability. We can see that a lot of people are complaining that the search engine is running poorly. There were 36% dissatisfied (users) in 2015. Is there any simple recipe for that? I bet there are some things that can be applied almost immediately!
It is quite common that the reason for bad results is very trivial – there is simply no good content in a search engine! A few hundred or even several thousand documents are not enough to satisfy the information needs of a medium sized or large company.
Solution = more content: put more information into a search engine. Index shared file resources, SharePoint-type systems, perhaps some parts of the databases like CRM, ERP and others. Do not be afraid of too much information – the search engine will embrace it in a safe and efficient way.
If you already have data indexed, it is much easier to search using additional filters. Let’s say, when we are looking for a new washing machine on any good online store we can easily filter out the features such as energy class, manufacturer, price range etc. The same can happen to corporate data, provided that our documents are tagged in a consistent manner.
Solution = tagging: Check tags and metadata consistency for documents, which we search through. If the quality of the tagging leaves much to be desired, it should be corrected (note: this can be done automatically to the large extent!). Then you should consider what filters are the most useful for your company search and implement them in your browser.
Users’ expectations are very important. If they ask and search, they usually want and need, eg. current lunch menu, financial settlement form, a specific procedure for calculating credit risk, sales report for the previous quarter, etc. This unique need of each user is expressed through a simple query. And here we encounter significant problem: these queries are not always well interpreted by the search engine. If you don’t see the desired document/answer in the first five slots of the search results list, even after 2-3 trials by using various queries, you quickly come to the conclusion that the search engine doesn’t not work (well).
Solution = user feed-back: It is fundamental to regularly collect users feed-back on the search engine. If you receive signals that something does not work, then you absolutely need to examine what specific search scenarios aren’t functioning well. These things can be usually fixed pretty easily by using synonyms, promotions or by changing the order of results display.
It is not easy to gather the opinion of everyone in large organiations, as there might be thousands of them. A search engine, like everything else, sometimes breaks down, answers too long for queries and gives silly results, or even no result at all. Additionally, it’s not certain if such a thing contributes to our organization or not, and who makes the use of our search at all.
Solution = logging: Log analysis gives a lot of information about the real use of search engines by the users. Logs tell us how many people are looking for something, what they are asking for, how fast search engine responds, when it gives zero results. It’s priceless information to understand what works, who really benefits, what are the most popular contents and questions, what needs to be improved. It’s crucially important to do it on a regular basis.
And now, when you fixed all these four points related to the search engine please tell me that it continues to be malfunctioning. I haven’t heard of such a case like before
There have been discussions surrounding the great generational renewal in the workplace for a while. The 50’s generation, who have spent a large part of their working lives within the same company, are being replaced by an agile bunch born in the 90’s. We are not taken by tabloid claims that this new generation does not want to work, or that companies do not know how to attract them. What we are concerned with is that businesses are not adapting fast enough to the way the new generation handle information to enable the transfer of knowledge within the organisation.
Working for the same employer for decades
Think about it for a while, for how long have the 50’s generation been allowed to learn everything they know? We see it all the time, large groups of employees ready to retire, after spending their whole working lives within the same organisation. They began their careers as teenagers working on the factory floor or in a similar role, step by step growing within the company, together with the company. These employees have tended to carry a deep understanding of how their organisation work and after years of training, they possess a great deal of knowledge and experience. How many companies nowadays are willing to offer the 90’s workers the same kind of journey? Or should they even?
2016 – It’s all about constant accessibility
The world is different today, than 50 years ago. A number of key factors are shaping the change in knowledge-intense professions:
Information overload – we produce more and more information. Thanks to the Internet and the World Wide Web, the amount of information available is greater than ever.
Education has changed. Employees of the 50’s grew up during a time when education was about learning facts by rote. The schools of today focus more on teaching how to learn through experience, to find information and how to assess its reliability.
Ownership is less important. We used to think it was important to own music albums, have them in our collection for display. Nowadays it’s all about accessibility, to be able to stream Spotify, Netflix or an online game or e-book on demand. Similarly we can see the increasing trend of leasing cars over owning them. Younger generations take these services and the accessibility they offer for granted and they treat information the same way, of course. Why wouldn’t they? It is no longer a competitive advantage to know something by heart, since that information is soon outdated. A smarter approach of course is to be able to access the latest information. Knowing how to search for information – when you need it.
Factors supporting the need for organising the free flow of the right information:
Employees don’t stay as long as they used to in the same workplace anymore, which for example, requires a more efficient on boarding process. It’s no longer feasible to invest the same amount of time and effort on training one individual since he/she might be changing workplace soon enough anyway.
It is much debated whether it is possible to transfer knowledge or not. Current information on the other hand is relatively easy to make available to others.
Access to information does not automatically mean that the quality of information is high and the benefits great.
Organisations lack the right tools
Knowing a lot of facts and knowledge about a gradually evolving industry was once a competitive advantage. Companies and organisations have naturally built their entire IT infrastructure around this way of working. A lot of IT applications used today were built for a previous generation with another way of working and thinking. Today most challenges involve knowing where and how to find information. This is something we experience in our daily work with clients. Organisations more or less lack the necessary tools to support the needs of the newer generation in their daily work.
To summarize the challenge: organisations need to be able to supply their new workforce with the right tools to constantly find (and also manipulate) the latest and best information required for them to shine.
Success depends on finding the right information
In order for the new generation to succeed, companies must regularly review how information is handled plus the tools supporting information-heavy work tasks.
New employees need to be able to access the information and knowledge left by retiring employees, while creating and finding new content and information in such a way that information realises its true value as an asset.
Efficiency, automation… And Information Management!
There are several ways of improving efficiency, the first step is often to investigate if parts, or perhaps the entire creating and finding process can be automated. Secondly, attack the information challenges.
What kind of information is it?
Where is the information located?
What is important, the information objects in their entirety or the subsets?
How will the information be consumed?
What prior knowledge is needed to interpret the information?
When we get a grip of the information we are to handle, it’s time to look into the supporting IT systems. How are employees supposed to find what they are looking for? How do they want to?
We have gotten used to find answers by searching online. This is in the DNA of the 90’s employee. By investing in a great search platform and developing processes to ensure high information quality within the organisation, we are certain the organisation will not only manage the generational renewal but excel in continuously developing new information centric services.
Finding our way in the bright, futuristic, data-driven & intertwined world, often taxes us and our digital-hungry senses. Fast rewind to the recent FindabilityDay 2015 and the parade of brilliant speaker talents on stage. Starting of with our dear friend and peer, Martin White, on the topic the future of search.
Human factors, from idea inception to design and practical UX of our digital artifacts. The key has been make-do and ship. This is the reason the more technically-advanced mobiles fell by the wayside 8 years ago Apple’s iPhone.
The social life with information, shapes our daily lives, in a hyper-connected world. It’s still very hard to find that information needle in the haystack, and most days we feel despair when losing the scent of information nuggets. The results from the Findability Survey, spoke clearly. Without sound organising principles to information and data, and a pliable recorded vision, we won’t find anything of value.
Next, moving into an old business model, with Luna’s and Sara’s presentation, a great example, where we see that the orchestration and choreography of their data assets will determine their survival or demise – in conjunction with infused means to information management practices, processes and tools. They showed a new set of facets to delivering on their mission in their line-of business.
Regardless of the line of business, it becomes clear that our fragmented workplace setting now only partly “on tap”. It makes our daily lives a mess, since things do not interoperate. The vision should show the way to a shared information commons, where we all cultivate.
Answer: Architect a place where you can find comfort with social conventions shared on the information used. Abby Covert, laid out a beautiful tapestry of things we all need to take on, to make sense in everyday life, and life at work. With clear and distinct guardrails, and signposts we don’t feel so distracted or lost. Her talk was a true enlightenment for me, being of the same profession, Information Architect.
SCA is a leading global hygiene and forest products company, employing around 44,000 people worldwide. The Group (all companies within SCA) develops and produces sustainable personal care, tissue and forest products. Sales are conducted in about 100 countries under many strong brands. Each brand each has its own website and its own search.
At SCA we use Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana to record searches, clicks on result documents and user feedback, on both the intranet and external sites. We also collect qualitative metrics by asking our public users a question after showing search results: “Did you find what you were looking for?” The user has the option to give a thumbs up or down and also write a comment.
What is logged?
All search parameters and results information is recorded for each search event: the query string, paging, sorting, facets, the number of hits, search response time, the date and time of the search, etc. Clicking a result document also records a multitude of information: the position of the document in the result list, the time it took from search to click and various document metadata (such as URL, source, format, last modified, author, and more). A click event also gets connected with the search event that generated it. This is also the case for feedback events.
Each event is written to a log file that is being monitored by Logstash, which then creates a document from each event and pushes them to Elasticsearch where the data is visualized in Kibana.
Due to the extent of information that is indexed, we can answer questions from the very simple, such as “What are the ten most frequent queries during the past week?” and “Users who click on document X, what do they search for?” to the more complex like “What is the distribution of clicked documents’ last modified dates, coming from source S, on Wednesdays? The possibilities are almost endless!
The answers to these questions allow us to tune the search to meet the needs of the users to an even greater extent and deliver even greater value. Today, we use this analysis for everything from adjusting the relevance model, to adding new facets or removing old ones, or changing the layout of the search and result pages.
Experienced value – more than “just” logs
Recording search and click events are common practice, but at SCA we have extended this to include user feedback, as mentioned above. This increases the value of the statistics even more. It allows an administrator to follow up on negative feedback in detail, e.g. by recreating the scenario. It also enables implicitly evaluated trial periods for change requests. If a statistically significant increase in the share of positive feedbacks is observed, then that change made it easier for users to find what they were looking for. We can also find the answer to new questions, such as “What’s the feedback from the users who experience zero hits?” and “Are users more likely to find what they are looking for if they use facets?”
And server monitoring as well!
This setup is not only used to record information about user behavior, we also monitor the health of our servers. Every few seconds we index information about each server’s CPU, memory and disk usage. The most obvious gain is the historic aspect. Not only can we see the resource usage at a specific point in time, we can also see trends that would not be noticeable if we only had access to data from right now. This can of course be correlated with the user statistics, e.g. if a rise in CPU usage can be correlated to an increase in query volume.
Benefits of the ELK Stack
What this means for SCA is that they get a search that is ever improving. We, the developers and administrators of the search system, are no longer in the dark regarding what changes actually change things for the better. The direct feedback loop between the users and administrators of the system creates a sense of community, especially when users see that their grievances are being tended to. Users find what they are looking for to a greater and greater extent, saving them time and frustration.
We rely on Elasticsearch, Logstash and Kibana as the core of our search capability, and for the insight to continually improve. We’re excited to see what the 2.0 versions bring. The challenge is to know what information you are after and create a model that will meet those needs. Getting the ELK platform up and running at SCA was the part of the project that took the least amount of our time, once the logs started streaming out of our systems.
This is the second post in a series (1), unpacking interoperability in the healthcare system. The basis in this post is semantic and technical interoperability, hence a systemic overview.
The future of health care relies on the improved flow of captured patient health information across the whole care continuum. This means a shared information system linking systems and devices from participating health care organisations while maintaining patient privacy and security standards. Such a realization would not only enhance the clinician and patient experience but also enable faster treatment and better care coordination for patients.
Information Commons is an information system, …, that exists to produce, conserve, and preserve information for current and future generations.
A seamless and secure hub, heavily-linked, providing point-of-care access to critical patient data and care decision support information for the delivery of timely care, reducing the duplication of tests and procedures.
All in all, this has to be built upon a participatory community paradigm, where clinicians, policy makers and leaders, and patients share a vision to create an interoperable information space – that is sustainable, regardless of previous lock-in mechanisms set by different technical, and semantic standards, vendors and process and policy making.
How do we create a interoperability climate?
Changes for interoperability lie in the development of new pilots with strong collaboration. They are generally more successful where they are based on patient or illness groups, value-orientated, open and scalable. Post requirements phase, iteration based on early adopters’ feedback can identify the need for improvements and enhancements around the relevancy, format and visual display of data and information, the usability of the solution and provide insight into workflow impact. The Information Commons is also a good arena for clinicians to share positive anecdotes from their experiences upon which scalable pilots can be expanded.
Such developed infrastructure and services can also support or be leveraged by other national or regional health initiatives.
Technical Layers of interoperability
Interoperability can cover many layers but at its basis would be an interoperable access layer that integrates and securely shares clinical data from multiple sources giving one point of access. The user interface (GUI) could then provide and display data and information based on stakeholder users and medical/situational context.
Such a layer would have to accommodate and support various data from the distributed system of actors, aligning both to open standards while at the same time being plastic enough in design and instantiation.
Interoperability not only covers the sharing of information but also its usage. This may include added functionality by the EHR vendor themselves or the creation of further value-adding knowledge layers that can take advantage of both structured and (the untapped wealth of) unstructured data within EHRs.
Findwise in its EU funded KConnect project is doing just that. It is currently collecting use case studies from Jönköping (RJI/Qulturum) in order to create a pilot solution for clinicians to take advantage of ‘hidden’ textual data.
Questions of interoperability also lie in the physical user experience of the systems themselves. Should the basic layer provided by EHR vendors be open to include value-added software from other parties, should it be embedded or be made into another GUI? Which ultimately is best for the clinician workflow and the agility of software solutions in supporting new value-based outcomes and reiteration for improvements in efficiency and effectiveness?
The annotations made in the healthcare systems across different domains, all have very similar outset, but lack coherent interoperable mechanism to work smoothly outside the local context. On a international, and national and regional level there should be services that acts as the electric grid to provide society with energy to be used in many contexts. A semantic grid that host controlled vocabularies within the domain, but also share practices and processes. With the use of open standards these could bridge across organisational boundaries and help clean the current messy Healthcare information space.
The healthcare information commons, do not per se have to be one system, but rather an interoperable set of services/systems that share standards to be able to exchange information and data. Very similar to they way Internet and linked data work today – not restricted by walled gardens. The governance of the commons, should be a matter of public services, with sustainable resources and open governance agenda that can invite participation and engagement. No single actor in the network, be it a large hospital, private caretaker or regional public governing body will be able take care of this single-handedly. It should be a true “commons” undertaking!
The infusion of the Information Commons into everyday healthcare provisioning use cases with semantic transformer applications could be in several modalities: finding and acting upon information or contributing in the local context.
Analogously using digital cameras from smartphones or other devices, means that the user might add “some” metadata or tags about the picture. Devices and sensors add more layers of granularity with attributes that most end-users, never see or bother about. These extra resource descriptions, will interplay with cloud based services as Google Photos – where different algorithms reformat, package the content into new forms, as contextual albums, scenes and so forth.
A set of semantic transformer application layers should be intertwingled with the Healthcare Information Commons. Firstly to make easy linkages between data sets – as the Web of Data scenarios and Linked Data propose – but also to provide smarter integration points in back-end supporting processes in the Healthcare systems where more private and locked-in data-sets exist about the patient conditions, treatments and drugs etc.
The semantic transformer applications could both be open api:s developed by the community for the commons, but also could be commercial applications provided by line-of-business specialist software vendors. As long as all of these layers, are compliant with the open standards!
For such legacy systems as EHR , and off-the-shelf healthcare applications and business applications that are semantically impaired, these semantic transformer applications could work as a repair-kit for already old broken systems. Consequently there would be no need to overhaul all legacy software within the caretaker’s organisation. A kind of smoother migration path to interoperability.
There also exists the need for semantic interoperability between the contextual patient information within the EHR and the provision of clinical decision support information. This could be in the form of internal medical guidelines and best practices, or from external resources such as medical journals or clinical trial reports.
The KConnect project are providing semantic annotation and semantic search services in different languages for clinicians and researchers to access the very latest in medical literature. This is achievable by semantically annotating required medical information (EHRs, guidelines, journals etc) and having the semantic search engine take full advantage of known key medical entities/concepts and their relationships.
Through the indexing of new information about drug usage, best practices, guidelines, new clinical trials and journals, clinicians then access up-to-date relevant information whenever they need.
In the near future to maximise both clinician and patient user engagement with EHRs, different uses and views of the EHR will have to be driven by suitable context and stakeholder semantics.
Shared Decision making
When moving into valued-based health care and outcome measurement, (as presented here by Sveus), it is critical that all actors participate on a connected level field, so that communication between healthcare practitioners and patients and their social networks works. This includes the need for shared norms and definitions as well as systems to support the decision making – and obviously a harmonised set of metrics to measure outcomes.
As presented by Peter Ubel, in his talks and recent book on Critical Decisions, it is key that we are able to share a common view between the clinician and the patient. All practitioners share jargon that do not always communicate well to the receiver. Hence there are plenty of communication breakdowns recorded in the everyday practices, leading to “malpractice” in the worst cases for the patient. In the last couple of decades, there has been a shift in power relations between healthcare professionals and patients and their families. Patient empowerment is a good thing, but if things get lost in translation, there is the risk that critical decisions are not fully supported.
With a Healthcare Information Commons pool of resources, there lays opportunities to guide patients and practitioners in their critical decision making. But also to strengthen the learning and innovation within the communities of practice, with open feedback loops to the pool.
Privacy & Security upfront
Just as data interoperability can be seen as the sharing of data, data security can be seen as the sharing of data in the right way and data privacy seen as the sharing of data with the right person in the right way. We are naturally concerned as to who may be using our data and want to be able to control its use.
The boundary between citizens’ App data and their medical data is blurring rapidly as App developments and sensors continue to provide new and different data that the individual, health care and clinical research can capitalise on in the effort to move towards better wellbeing and more value-based healthcare.
While data privacy and security have become the headline darlings of the media, they can often be distractors of innovation, often masking the true benefits of the flow of information. Just as with physical assets there are best practices for data misuse prevention, protection and policing. The majority of misuse or abuse of personal data is more often caused by human error and misjudgement than by the failure of technology.
Data interoperability can be better supported when services have clear guidelines to inform citizens as to who, when and how their data is shared, for what purpose and the available steps to alter said process. A better informed public would then see more free data resources being used for clinical research e.g. the Million Hearts initiative in the US where citizen data is being used to lower heart attacks and strokes.
Open regulations, collaboration and co-ordination along with risk assessment and protection practices such as encryption, anonymisation and de-identification, all can go a long way to allowing secure data interoperability, be it personal or aggregated data. IT has the potential too of rule-based access and forensic data access reports. No system can be made fool-proof, however precautions and the presence of well-designed data breach response plan are achievable.
Obviously we do not want all our healthcare records to be open in the air for anybody to use or read, as little as we want our financial records to be in the open. Privacy is really key! The means with the Information Commons should work with aggregated data. Not the singular set of records for one patient.
Patient security derives the need to a more free flow of data between actor systems. The medical conditions and contexts sets the standards for sharing, where extracts or segments should be possible to share aligned with privacy policies.
Future real-life experience exposé
Having a recent Swedish report on diabetes care and outcome measurement in mind. It makes sense, to illustrate the case of a diabetes patient living and acting in Göteborg, West of Sweden. They have a medical condition, being a lifelong journey with an endocrine system out of order. This has a great impact on the patient’s everyday life, and diabetes related complications. With good life balance to training, exercise and eating habits, it is possible to keep the glucose patterns in such a way that your life expectancy will equal to anybody else.
The use of personal choices to trigger improved behavior, gives the person options to chose selected wellbeing (e.g. Weight Watchers), fitness (e.g. Runkeeper) and health monitoring applications. In most cases these are closed down ecosystems, e.g. iOS included Health app, with options to share in social-media (about your progress, in terms of eating well, or improve your personal training). Many Life Science corporations are developing medical condition / disease area / treatment specific Health monitoring applications (e.g. FreeStyle Libre from Abbot for improving Glucose Monitoring) that clinicians recommend during patient consultations.
For clinical researchers there are ecosystem specific toolkits, like the open-sourced Apple Research Kit. The existence of a closed ecosystem naturally makes it more problematic to share and exchange data. In this space a Open Standards based on the idea Information Commons makes sense too – where semantic translators could improve the transmission of data from one closed ecosystem to another, without privacy infringement.
In a future more seamlessly interoperable world, the citizen / patient should be provided one-secure-access point to his/hers health account, e.g. in Sweden 1177 and Mina Vårdkontakter and Hälsa för mig.
The outstanding question: How to get interoperability between PHR and Wellbeing, Fitness and Health apps where it is easy to share vital data bits in a sound manner?
In this scene, open standards should be applied to create a make-do semantic transformation.
Lastly – interoperability within the Professional Clinician Workplace?
The statements and real-life stories from the trenches in any clinical workplace, show a mess of supporting information systems. EHRs that by no means either cooperate or interoperate. Many clinicians realise that they have to do data provision into a handful of systems with significant double manual workload. This comes with risks, given the stressful environment, and many “malpractice” incidents can arise from this workplace disorder.
Each system support its part of the process. While some software suites try to close-down into one-system to ‘rule them all paradigm,’ they still barely lean upon any open standards and they lack semantic and structured ways for the use of data and information outside of the supporting system’s narrow scope.
A diabetes nurse (post patient consultation) has to enter data into more than 10 different areas, including quality assurance and measurement systems e.g. NDR in Sweden. In some cases there have been integrated point-to-point solutions put in place, but mostly this is not the case and so unnecessary frustration is created.
In every intervention where clinicians and patients communicate, regardless of it being online, remote, on-site, there should be opportunities to tap into the Healthcare Information Commons space. With the potential to find recent new medical treatments, emerging standards/guidelines, breaking news for clinicians as well as patient-oriented and formatted communications. In the best of worlds, semantic translator applications will bridge between ecosystems inside the personal health space as well as into the workplace environment for clinicians – helping, guiding and improving all dimensions of interoperability.
Having value-based Healthcare and Outcome Measurement domain as a specific health care change driver, will push the use of standards on all levels to the limit. In the following blog post in this series, the ambition is to unpack information governance, since the data ownership and trust also have to be ironed out. And as stated by Prof Michael E. Porter, the capture of data to do proper Outcome Measurement is one of the major road-blocks ahead. The orchestration of all resources and governance still have to be unfolded. Happily some building blocks to the Healthcare Information Commons have emerged, so we do not need to reinvent the wheel:
Wikimedia realm “commons“- with all entries of semantic useful data in wikidata.org
Open Innovation, and the “open” paradigm, will change evidence based medicine, Bad Pharma and Science on a sociatal level, as stated by Ben Goldacre (TED) where we as patient together with clinicians are able to question treatments based on open data, and improve quality to Healthcare Information Commons.
The outstanding question is how do we infuse Sensemaking in the future Healthcare realm?
The cues for a better interopable worldview is nothing new. The main obstacles and roadblocks could be narrowed down to the following: closed-down data and information silos, with no governanace and policy making that apply the open innovation paradigm. This is the first post in a series (2) unpacking interoperability in the healthcare system.
Open Standards – the remedy for the Healthcare systems incurable prognosis?
The use of open standards to reach for interoperability on all levels should be the main driver for all policy making in the healtchare system regardless of country, region, hospital or clinic. And moving into patient engagement and health monitoring and consumer centric applications and services, this becomes even more obvious.
The results presented showed that without a good “Interoperability Climate” determined by sustainable resources and clear governance, the other interoperability levels will be problematic. With the bedrock being healthcare provisioning in Sweden, this could unfold to a better orchestrated interoperability practice, from Government, to the National Board of Health and Welfare, to local regional healthcare providers and hospitals, private clinics. As well as with citizen centric Health services, and consumer Health and Wellbeing apps on any platform. From policy makers, this implies that new policies should stress and enforce the use of open standards as a way to unleash the closed down data silos and practices.
Today, in fact most days, end-users feel bewildered when using the intranet.It is to some extent impossible to navigate.There exists a hodgepodge of mixed user experiences, given that the intranet often serves as the access point to several tools. And findability too is low! With a coherent, smooth and interoperable workplace, users should be able to find information and data, peers and colleagues to solve their everyday tasks, in an efficient way… anywhere, on any device and anytime.
The authors’ narrative describes how the intranet can best be used to produce beneficial business transformation, by including detailed chapters on: strategy, content & information architecture, search/findability, governance and stakeholder management, end-user engagement and adaptation. Measures and metrics are also included to qualify the sought after business values.
Findwise have contributed to the sections relating to organising principles. Put simply, it should be easy for a user to know where and how to contribute with information and content in a good manner, so that others are able to find and co-act on such codified knowledge.
Without sound and sustainable organising principles there will be no findability: shit in = shit out! Regardless of the technology platform employed for search or intranet
Buy the e-book today, in advance of the published printed version in May!
Yesterday we arranged a really successful Meetup to start this years Meteor activites.
This years first Meteor Meetup in Gothenburg -18 people showed up, more than expected and more than registered in beforehand on meetup.com – which is a first! So I can tell you that it was really successful already the beginning.
Pizza and beverages were served in Findwise Gothenburg office. Big thanks to Sebastian Ilves and Benjamin Lilland from Devkittens for helping out with arrangements.
Then we carried on with demonstrations of some apps we have built at Findwise with Meteor, just mentioning a few:
Burnout – A search driven problem finder for websites using crawl-techniques and a search engine backend to deliver diagnostics to the Meteor front end application which handles user sessions and user specific data.
Keybox – A brilliant and quick app, which sprung out of a problem with key accesses on many different environment. The app helps out distributing access to servers for people just like you manage your keys in Github but for servers.
Signatures – Also a search driven app that helps Findwise staff to generate their email signatures by themselves, using the search to gather data from the company active directory.
Between a couple in-house app demonstrations we invited people from the community to demo what they have built or are working on.
Patrik Göthe first demoed an iPhone app built with Meteor to paint vectors with SVG almost like you paint with the pen tool in Photoshop and you can also change the background hue of the artboard your painting on. The original idea was to enable people to get nice colored background images for their phone, with a hue one could control just by the touch drag event.
Patrik demoed another application for people who do live coding. The app was reconfigured from being only a Meteor in the browser to being a desktop app. You can open code files and divide the code into chunks. In addition you can use this app in the background to help paste each part with a short command in the Mac when you are presenting and live coding a piece of software.
Andreas Rolén from GBG Startup Hack was here and demoed an app that can be used for hackathons or competitions. You can login to the app and adjust the teams and score etc from your phone, and updates would then be visible live on the website and on screens mounted in the hackathon location.
In total I think we got to see 10 apps demoed. As that wasn’t enough, Robin Lindh Nilsson and Johan Carlberg caught everyone’s attention when we all suddenly were playing their game on our own laptops and live on the TV. This was fun and exciting to say the least. Here’s a link to the game: http://globbyonline.diamonde.se/
In accordance to sources, the birth of the intranet fell on a 1994 – 1996, that was true prehistory from an IT systems point of view. Intranet history is bound up with the development of Internet – the global network. The idea of WWW, proposed in 1989 by Tim Berners-Lee and others, which aim was to enable the connection and access to many various sources, became the prototype for the first internal networks. The goal of intranet invention was to increase employees productivity through the easier access to documents, their faster circulation and more effective communication. Although, access to information was always a crucial matter, in fact, intranet offered lots more functionalities, i.e.: e-mail, group work support, audio-video communication, texts or personal data searching.
Overload of information
Over the course of the years, the content placed on WWW servers had becoming more important than other intranet components. First, managing of more and more complicated software and required hardware led to development of new specializations. Second, paradoxically the easiness of information printing became a source of serious problems. There was too much information, documents were partly outdated, duplicated, without homogeneous structure or hierarchy. Difficulties in content management and lack of people responsible for this process led to situation, when final user was not able to reach desired piece of information or this had been requiring too much effort.
Google to the rescue
As early as in 1998 the Gartner company made a document which described this state of Internet as a “Wild West”. In case of Internet, this problem was being solved by Yahoo or Google, which became a global leader on information searching. In internal networks it had to be improved by rules of information publishing and by CMS and Enterprise Search software. In many organizations the struggle for easier access to information is still actual, in the others – it has just began.
And the Search approached
It was search engine which impacted the most on intranet perception. From one side, search engine is directly responsible for realization of basic assumptions of knowledge management in the company. From the other, it is the main source of complaints and frustration among internal networks users. There are many reasons of this status quo: wrong or unreadable searching results, lack of documents, security problems and poor access to some resources. What are the consequences of such situation? First and foremost, they can be observed in high work costs (duplication of tasks, diminution in quality, waste of time, less efficient cooperation) as well as in lost chances for business. It must not be forgotten that search engine problems often overshadow using of intranet as a whole.
How to measure efficiency?
In 2002 Nielsen Norman Group consultants estimated that productivity difference between employees using the best and the worst corporate network is about 43%. On the other hand, annual report of Enterprise Search and Findability Survey shows that in situation, when almost 60% of companies underline the high importance of information searching for their business, nearly as 45% of employees have problem with finding the information.
Leaving aside comfort and level of employees satisfaction, the natural effect of implementation and improvement of Enterprise Search solutions is financial benefit. Contrary to popular belief, investments profits and savings from reaching the information faster are completely countable. Preparing such calculations is not pretty easy. The first step is: to estimate time, which is spent by employees on searching for information, to calculate what percentage of quests end in a fiasco and how long does it take to perform a task without necessary materials. It should be pointed out that findings of such companies as IDC or AIIM shows that office workers set aside at least 15-35% of their working hours for searching necessary information.
Problems with searching are rarely connected with technical issues. Search engines, currently present on our market, are mature products, regardless of technologies type (commercial/open-source). Usually, it is always a matter of default installation and leaving the system in untouched state just after taking it “out of the box”. Each search engine is different because it deals with various documents collections. Another thing is that users expectations and business requirements are changing continually. In conclusion, ensuring good quality searching is an unremitting process.
Knowledge workers main tool?
Intranet has become a comprehensive tool used for companies goals accomplishment. It supports employees commitment and effectiveness, internal communication and knowledge sharing. However, its main task is to find information, which is often hide in stack of documents or dispersed among various data sources. Equipped with search engine, intranet has become invaluable working tool practically in all sectors, especially in specific departments as customer service or administration.
So, how is your company’s access to information?
This text makes an introduction to series of articles dedicated to intranet searching. Subsequent articles are intended to deal with: search engine function in organization, benefit from using Enterprise Search, requirements of searching information system, the most frequent errors and obstacles of implementations and systems architecture.
At Findwise we love to see how we can use the power of search technologies in ways that goes beyond the typical search box application.
One thing that has exploded the last few years is of course apps in smartphones and tablets. It’s no longer enough to store your knowledge in databases that are kept behind locked doors. Professionals of today want to have instant access to knowledge and information right where they are. Whether if it’s working at the factory floor or when showcasing new products for customers.
When you think of enterprise search today, you should consider it as a central hub of knowledge rather than just a classical search page on the intranet. Because when an enterprise search solution is in place, when information from different places have been normalized and indexed in one place, then there really are no limits for what you can do with the information.
By building this central hub of knowledge it’s simple to make that knowledge available for other applications and services within or outside of the organization. Smartphone and tablet applications is one great example.
Integrating mobile apps with search engine technologies works really well because of four reasons:
It’s fast. Search engines can find the right information using advanced queries or filtering options in a very short time, almost regardless of how big the index is.
It’s lightweight. The information handled by the device should only be what is needed by the device, no more, no less.
It’s easy to work with. Most search engine technologies provides a simple REST interface that’s easy to integrate with.
A unified interface for any content. If the content already is indexed by the enterprise search solution, then you use the same interface to access any kind of information.
We are working a lot together with SKF. A company that has transformed itself from a traditional industry company into a knowledge engineering company over the last years. I think it’s safe to say that Findwise have been a big part of that journey by helping them create their enterprise search solution.
And of course, since we love new challenges, we have also helped SKF create a few mobile apps. In particular there are two different apps that we have helped out with:
The shelf app, which is a portable product brochures archive. The main use case is quick and easy access to product information for sales reps when visiting customers.
The mobile product landing page, which is a mobile web app that you get to if you scan QR-codes printed on the package of SKF kits.
And this is something that haven’t gone unnoticed. In a speech by Tom Johnstone, the recent CEO of SKF, he mentions a “12% increase in productivity” for their sales force thanks to those smartphone and tablet apps.
And even more recently the tech giant Apple has noticed how the apps makes the day to day work of SKF employees easier and turned the apps created at SKF into major business reference cases for both their iPhone and iPads.