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What is Microsoft’s Search Strategy? Are they as confused as I am?

Microsoft’s search strategy is somewhat unclear, at least to me. Office Graph uses artificial intelligence and borrows from the FAST search technology. This is the basis for the Clutter feature in Outlook that lets users remove low priority emails. It is also the basis for Delve, which is a business social tool. From within Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, Bing is used to provide a tool called Insights with a ‘Tell Me’ search feature from within the basic Microsoft applications. Many organizations would find this confusing, and one wonders if improvements and management of the results would require additional support personnel to address each search option. I would have to believe organizations would prefer not to put together pieces of the search puzzle. Adding on-premises to the mix, becomes more complicated.

These factors can present challenges to Microsoft, although organizations want accurate and relevant search, they don’t want to spend money or time on it, would like a plug and play environment, and take the burden off the end user to find what they are seeking. Unfortunately, Office Graph, even though combined with FAST needs to learn the interests of each individual, which will delay the effectiveness of search across the organization, and ultimately Office 365 adoption. The primary stumbling block is going to be the issue of end user tagging, as Office Graph uses the metadata added automatically or by the individual. Delve is going to be very confused considering how poorly users tag content.

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Big Brother really is watching you! Office 365 Delve

Under the name ‘Organizational Analytics’ the new version of Delve, available later this year, will include a dashboard view which will track your own work performance and compare it to the company average. Although Microsoft sees this as a valuable tool, one would question if it is an effective management tool or will upset the proverbial end user apple cart. This actually bothers me a bit. I realize that there are those who are diligent workers and then there are the slackers. Now we will all be tracked on exactly what we are doing, ‘oh-oh you went to too many meetings, you’re answering too many emails, the whole department is performing better than you’, I think you get the picture.

Another new feature, termed a productivity tool, Delve has also added a new profile page for users to specify their contact information, whom you report to, who reports to you, and, a personal blog page that enables the user to embed videos, documents and images. It also includes a Praise page where the user can list personal accolades, customer sales, contracts, whatever they wish to share with colleagues. Hmm, what will the Organizational Analytics think of my time spent building my blog of ‘atta boys’.

The above ‘tools’ go hand-in-hand with Microsoft’s new infographic, which I thought was just very tasteless. If you haven’t seen it yet, ‘This terrifying Microsoft ad suggests you’re not working hard enough in the bathroom‘ infographic, which has gone viral. I thought it was a huge marketing mistake, but am rethinking the assumption that it really wasn’t a mistake at all. What do you think?

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It’s Baaaaack. After a 30 year hiatus Artificial Intelligence is on the move.

I just read an interesting article, ‘The Return of Artificial Intelligence’. Written by Bloomberg News, it appears that the sleeping giant, Artificial Intelligence is now awake and on a roll. Most are start-ups, and according to the article, funding is there for the asking, without even a business plan.

So, what are these entrepreneurs developing? The current trend seems to focus on developing business tools that solve specific organizational challenges. Behind the resurgence, is companies like Amazon, Google, Apple, and Microsoft who have over the past decade deployed AI technologies, such as which ad is more likely to be clicked on. Other examples include Apple’s chirpy assistant, Siri, and Google’s self driving cars.

What I find interesting, is this focus on solving business problems. According to the article, “the University of California at San Francisco began working with Palo Alto, California-based MetaMind on two projects: one to spot prostate cancer and the other to predict what may happen to a patient after reaching a hospital’s intensive care unit so that staff can more quickly tailor their approach to the person. Theresa O’Brien, an associate chancellor at UCSF, said the university teamed up with the startup—the first such collaboration she’s aware of—because it wants to develop better approaches to bespoke medical treatment by employing computers to sort and link data, which AI can help.”

American Express uses AI to automatically detect fraudulent transactions. ““Our machine learning models help protect $1 trillion in charge volume every year, making the decision in less than 2 milliseconds,” Vernon Marshall, American Express’s functional risk officer, wrote in an e-mail, without disclosing which AI companies it works with. “We have been delighted with how well this technology can detect fraud.”

All in all, it will be curious to watch as AI developments unfold.

(If you have a few minutes and use SharePoint or Office 365, could you kindly take our metadata survey? You could win a free conference pass to Microsoft Ignite. We would greatly appreciate it)

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Delete Data? Why, just use search and create data lakes! Dive In!

I just read a very well written article, entitled Information Governance v Search: The Battle Lines Are Redrawn, by Ralph Losey, who is a practicing attorney and shareholder in a national law firm with 50+ offices and over 800 lawyers where he lead’s the firm’s Electronic Discovery practice group.

It is a very interesting viewpoint, and although the article is quite long, I would suggest reading it. Mr. Losey’s premise is that information should never be deleted and should be replaced with Artificial Intelligence search. He does make a several good points, but I guess I am still stuck in the old school on topics such as records management, information governance, and search. One of the points he makes is who is to decide when data has lost its value? This is referred to as an old-school problem, as in the new world all information should be saved and data lakes created, According to Losey, “information can prove what really happened in the past and can help you to make the right decisions. With smart search, there can be great hidden value in too much information. “I do take exception to that. There is quite a bit of information that organizations keep and is actually useless. Business users still spend much of their time searching because they can’t find what they need. Although, according to Losey, search will be so ‘smart’ that, I assume, the problem inherent in search engines will go away.

Losey concludes the article by stating, “that is the new reality of Big Data. It is a hard intellectual paradigm to jump, and seems counter-intuitive. It took me a long time to get it. The new ability to save and search everything cheaply and efficiently is what is driving the explosion of Big Data services and products. As the save everything, find anything way of thinking takes over, the classification and deletion aspects of IG will naturally dissipate. The records life-cycle will transform into virtual immortality. There is no reason to classify and delete, if you can save everything and find anything at low cost. The issues simplify; they change to how to save and search, although new issues of security and privacy grow in importance.” Where I see a problem is that organizations need to plan for the impact of collecting even more information, garbage or not. Not only in terms of hardware but in terms of keeping dark data.

For Information Governance, duplication and multiple sources of truth will be present. How are you certain the information you are basing decisions on is relevant and accurate? Just trust the search engine?

Perhaps from a legal standpoint, the organization does need to be more careful on delete versus keep. But not all data or content retains value forever. I wonder too, by keeping all data, eliminating records management, and depending only on search, does it impact the results of the data mining? Does it make data mining more complex to get to the information you are seeking as you are now dealing with a tremendous data set where you don’t really know which end is up? I would tend to think so.

Anyway, a radically different perspective. He hasn’t convinced me. What about you?

(If you have a few minutes and use SharePoint or Office 365, could you kindly take our metadata survey? You could win a free conference pass to Microsoft Ignite. We would greatly appreciate it)

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Will Enterprise Search and Text Analytics Become One Product? Good Luck!

Enterprise search has always been viewed by most as lacking in findability. According to statistics, business users still spend quite a bit of time every day searching for what they can’t find. What’s in the future? According to Grand View Research, and their industry analysis of the enterprise search market, enterprise search will grow to USD $5.02 billion by 2020, (hey, does anyone ever go back and check these predictions?). The growth can be attributed to the ‘need to manage large volumes of data efficiently in an organization so as to improve operational efficiency’. These enhancements are to include security.

According to the report, ‘the large enterprises segment is expected to dominate the market over the next six years, which can be credited to the need to search accurate data across a vast database’.

Although we are a search vendor, I can envision, in idea only, combining text analytics and enterprise search. Text analytics tools require a high level of expertise, currently uses a great deal of resources, both hardware and people, and results aren’t necessarily quickly delivered. Quite a big difference than whipping out a typical spreadsheet. Plus the amount of content is exploding every year. At some point, like now, it becomes unmanageable.

For this to happen, enterprise search better improve by leaps and bounds (not ours of course) and new analytics tools that are business user driven need to be developed. Maybe they are, and I just don’t know about them. On the negative side, most organizations do not manage their content proactively, some don’t even have search turned on, and some still lack the ability to integrate diverse repositories into a single user interface. If all this is to happen before 2020, I would say good luck. Someone has a lot to do.

(If you have a few minutes and use SharePoint or Office 365, could you kindly take our metadata survey? You could win a free conference pass to Microsoft Ignite. We would greatly appreciate it)

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