Empowering Knowledge in Professional Services
Perhaps no other industry is more dependent on maximizing the use of information assets and knowledge capital than professional services organizations. Knowledge, whether tacit or explicit, is the single most valuable asset of a professional services firm. The inability to effectively manage knowledge and utilize knowledge assets not only results in a high cost to the firm, but ultimately degrades competitive advantages. Improving the access and use of knowledge as well as capitalizing on the highly specialized expertise of staff, results in improving organizational returns linked to those assets.
Concept Searching’s Smart Content Framework™, product platforms, and intelligent metadata enabled solutions address and solve content management and information governance challenges with one set of technologies. Clients include Ernst & Young, CGI (Logica), Pointb, Noblis, Deloitte, IDC, and Brailsford & Dunlavey.
What do all these firms have in common?
The need to transform information into knowledge assets. With the ever increasing mobility of consultants across dispersed geographies the challenge is to make knowledge identification, sharing, and immediate access an easier and more transparent process creating a holistic view regardless of where the information is stored or where staff is located. Enterprises still suffer from silos of redundant client and prospect data located in a variety of applications and diverse repositories designed to support the individual needs and requirements of specific communities of users. This inability to find knowledge assets for re-use and to spur thought leadership can result in a loss of clients, decreasing returns, and ultimately a loss of revenues.
From a different perspective, professional services firms also face operational risk, more so than in the past. These types of challenges can include a lack of proper security controls prohibiting access to confidential or secure information from unauthorized access and portability, as well as ensuring records and regulatory mandates are compliant. Use of the cloud and the growing need for applications such as text analytics, enterprise social networking, and collaboration, have added yet another layer of complexity.
How is this Solved?
The Concept Searching product platforms can deliver all of the above through the use of one set of technologies including:
This still unique technology transparently identifies the meaning of ‘content in context’ enabling the use of rich semantic metadata to be automatically generated, without end user intervention, auto-classified, and managed through highly sophisticated and interactive taxonomy tools.
What are some of the benefits our Professional Services clients have achieved?
- Improved information transparency and utilization of enterprise information
- Provided immediate and actionable visibility of relevant content from diverse repositories
- Eliminated potential data security exposures, removed confidential information from unauthorized access, and prohibited portability
- Automatic declaration of documents of record and assignment of security classifications, without end user intervention
- Created the ability to find, efficiently use and reuse information
- Eliminated manual tagging and end user intervention, unless authorized
- Built and supported enterprise knowledge portals, accessed via concept based search, regardless of search engine
- Enabled the organization to access and distribute information to diverse groups needing information on demand, including systems, employees, suppliers, clients, and third parties
- Provided a common vocabulary and normalization of organizational nomenclature, eliminating language barriers and inconsistencies of terminology within the organization
Smart Content Framework™
The Smart Content Framework™ addresses information governance as it applies to unstructured and semi-structured assets. It consists of best practices, technologies, and people. This combination enables the organization to identify key enterprise challenges, develop policy surrounding the challenges, and enforce and measure the results.
The framework is supported through the Concept Searching technology platforms and the initial building block ‘Metadata’, which includes the development of an enterprise metadata repository from which all other building blocks flow. The second building block,‘Insight’ provides the capability to rapidly understand the issues surrounding metadata as it applies to unstructured and semi-structured content. Effective search, typically a key challenge in professional services firms, is the output of the ‘Insight’ building block. Enterprise search as a component in a tactical information governance strategy, must be a continually managed process within the organization to spur growth and innovation.
Concept Searching’s Smart Content Framework™ assists in defining the major organizational risk factors and results in the tactical changes needed in business processes. The building blocks include:
- Metadata – the development of an enterprise metadata repository that is flexible, to address multiple business challenges with one set of technologies and provides the ability to apply policy across diverse business groups, repositories, and applications
- Insight – improves any interactive metadata application, such as search, eDiscovery, litigation support, text analytics, social tagging, and collaboration, and is used as the data to analyze and quantify risk
- Risk – defined by staff to determine the organizational risk factors, and effectively identify and validate the specific risk to analyze cost versus benefit
- Policy – defined by the organization to implement and enforce policy based on the risk factors
- Action – fulfills the organizational policies, enforceable and adaptable by end users, and can be quantifiable and able to be measured
From the Smart Content Framework™, intelligent metadata enabled solutions can be rapidly deployed. These applications consist of search, records identification, security, eDiscovery and litigation support, migration, text analytics, collaboration, and social networking applications.
The end result is the ability to deploy intelligent metadata enabled solutions that share the same framework for information governance. Instead of recreating the wheel for each challenge, with the framework in place, organizations can become more agile and improve business results more quickly and with less effort.
Professional Services firms typically have staff that are global, and usually support numerous service offerings within each business unit. With potentially hundreds of communities in diverse geographic areas, supporting different industries, sectors, service lines, and account teams information access must be tailored to both individual and group requirements. Knowledge capital, the protection of content as a business asset, and the ability to access relevant content, are a prerequisite for growth and competitive advantages.
What are the challenges at a business operational level?
Solving the big picture challenges comes down to executing day-to-day tasks through a combination of people and technology. At the heart of addressing the big picture challenges, organizations must solve the basic problems that support the overall objectives of the organization.
The fundamental technology problems that can improve the performance of the organization as a whole include:
- Search – inability to deliver relevant (content in context), up-to-date content, exclude redundant information, and to accommodate multiple search engines
- Knowledge Resources – inability to facilitate knowledge sharing and content re-use, providing knowledge workers with a holistic view of all content based on their access rights
- Collaboration – inability to communicate and collaborate with diverse stakeholders, to ensure all participants have access to the same, up-to-date information available based on their authorized access to the content
- Social Content – inability to provide structure to enterprise social content applications that drive productivity and encourage business user participation which deliver a ROI and capture knowledge assets that leverage intellectual assets
- Cloud – inability to provide a consistent enterprise search interface, regardless of the platform, and address on-premise risks that also apply to the cloud, such as security and records identification
- Text Analytics – inability to reduce the quantity of information to be analyzed, cleanse the content, and find the precise information needed to make informed decisions and gain insight into content
- Records Management – inability to accommodate the human factor, typically responsible for tagging and processing documents of record resulting in undeclared records and impacting the information lifecycle of individual pieces of content
- Security – the inability to define vocabulary and descriptors used for the real-time identification of confidential/data privacy exposures, remove the content from unauthorized access, and prevent its portability
- eDiscovery and Legal – inability to manage the escalating costs and risks surrounding eDiscovery and litigation support; information cannot be accessed or found because it is either mistagged or not tagged; and the time gap between information requests and discovery is directly proportional to the volume of data, and the longer it takes to find information the more costly that information becomes
- Migration – inability to migrate content based on semantic metadata tagging to simplify pre-migration activities and improve the organization of content post-migration
At the crux of all these challenges is metadata. In alignment with the Smart Content Framework™ intelligent metadata enabled solutions can only be achieved through the automatic generation of multi-term metadata, are specific to the various vocabularies and nomenclature of the organization, and serves as the foundation for any application that requires metadata. This enterprise metadata framework is then used to auto-classify content, and manage it through interactive, yet highly sophisticated, and industry unique taxonomy tools.
Concept Searching product platforms have been deployed and are being used extensively in the professional services sector. Since the products are not restricted to just solving search challenges, the products reach far beyond to improve any application that requires the use of metadata and establishes the framework for information governance.
Solving the over-arching and often global challenges, changes are needed at the tactical level using technology, people, and business processes to solve these global objectives, in order to reduce risk, costs, and improve business performance.
Below are the fundamental challenges our clients have faced followed by information on how they were able to address those challenges.
Search is the lifeblood of professional services firms. Many firms have multiple search engines, multiple applications that require search, and content is stored in dissimilar repositories and not always included in the indexing of content. In addition, users are not always adept at constructing queries that will result in high precision and high recall. The Concept Searching product platforms all contain the core component of generating compound term metadata, or concepts in context, auto-classifying the content, and managing content on an on going basis through taxonomy tools. All content can be classified, regardless of the repository or application. The products integrate with any search engine, and offer a range of search features eliminating the burden on the end user to perform reiterative and non-productive searches.
Improving Search on a Global Intranet
Improving Search on a Customer Facing Website
Regardless of what term the firm uses, a knowledge resource repository typically exists to capture not only past and current knowledge assets, but also the intellectual assets based on the staff’s expertise and knowledge for re-use and knowledge sharing. One of the biggest benefits of the Concept Searching platforms is the ability to aggregated content from file shares, SharePoint, websites, and diverse applications to provide a single point of reference for knowledge workers. Supporting navigational, concept based, and discovery type searches, the user can directly access the information needed or the user can be guided to relevant content, identifying relationships between content, and offering topics and information that typically would not be found.
45,000 Professionals Benefit from Search Enhancements on a Global Knowledge Portal
Collaboration is slowly being recognized as a valid, and valuable, enterprise communication tool. With the cloud also gaining in adoption, the ability to communicate and collaborate in real-time can improve group performance, decision making, and lower costs. The advantage is the ability to deliver the most up-to-date information, regardless of its format to the appropriate users. Collaboration, as well as social networking tools, can be used to increase awareness of organizational knowledge, employee induction and training, expertise location, communities of interest, collective intelligence, and innovation management. At a more tactical level, collaboration can be used in project management, elimination of emails, and to communicate securely with a variety of diverse stakeholders. The Concept Searching platforms foster collaboration efforts through the ability to aggregate relevant and precise content, regardless of where it resides, regardless of the format, and ensures that the content is available when needed. In addition, the security of the content asset is verified to eliminate any potential data exposure or breach resulting from unauthorized access.
Leveraging Knowledge Assets as a Key Business Advantage
Social networking applications have taken a long time to gain their place as legitimate business applications. The Concept Searching platforms provide improved social content outcomes by providing insight into content; grouping similar users, concepts, and content together; identifying people with expertise, knowledge or interest in a topic; and protecting and securing confidential information from unauthorized access. A significant benefit is the ability to provide the framework that enables access to relevant and accurate information at a granular level. The end result is a consistent understanding of the value and context of information. It also provides confident cross-organizational decision support capability, shared knowledge, and enterprise availability of knowledge and intellectual assets that increase organizational performance.
Integrating Social to Enable Expert Identification
The ability to aggregate very precise information from diverse sources and then analyze them can be invaluable in decision making and reducing costs. Data is machine driven, whereas unstructured content is driven by people, which makes the nuances, insights, relationships of disparate content, sentiment, and knowledge capital much more difficult to extract. Using Concept Searching products before analysis, the quantity of content can be reduced through an initial cleansing. Once the ‘noise’ has been eliminated, the ability to analyze the content at a very granular level produces actionable results that can be used to solve problems, reduce costs, and improve decision making.
From Market Intelligence to Project Implementation
Moving to the cloud can provide a strong return on investment and enable ubiquitous access for end users regardless of where they are located. But moving to a cloud environment, or even a hybrid environment, poses challenges in regards to applying a consistent information governance strategy across all environments. The Concept Searching platforms have been deployed in the cloud, including Office 365 and Amazon Web Services (AWS), and enable effective management of unstructured content by enforcing and extending enterprises’ on-premise information governance policies within the cloud environment. Metadata driven policy actions on content used in search, migration, identifying and securing sensitive information, or in the automatic declaration of documents of record, are some of the key capabilities available in a cloud environment.
Connecting 100,000 Business Professionals in Office 365
Information Governance – Records Identification and Security
Regardless of whether you are using the SharePoint Records Center or a third party application, records management and the lifecycle of documents of record is typically a challenge, in any industry. The biggest stumbling block has always been end user tagging. With complex file plans, and the fact that human tagging is often haphazard at best, organizations can often unwittingly fall into the trap of non-compliance. The Concept Searching platforms, are being used to automatically identify documents of record, auto-classify the content to a taxonomy that mirrors the file plan and route it directly to the records management application.
Sensitive, confidential, and data privacy information exists in documents, scanned items, faxed items, emails, and could be in any unstructured or semi-structured content. The Concept Searching platforms provide the ability to automatically identify, secure, and prohibit portability of content using organizationally defined vocabulary and descriptors. Since the metadata generation is not restricted to keywords, it is highly accurate in identifying potential security exposures, in real-time, as content is ingested or created. It is then automatically routed to a secure repository for disposition. Full support for standard descriptors is included. Additional value is provided through the ability for the organization or functional group to define confidential information that falls outside of standard descriptors.
Effective information Governance Enterprise Wide
Why Metadata Matters to You
The CIO or CTO in any industry faces both strategic and tactical challenges. In the professional services sector the responsibilities are broad and challenging. The strategic challenges must be carefully addressed with a focus on the impact at a tactical level. Budgetary constraints can change the priorities and force a ‘pick and choose’ philosophy to improve performance. One of the key differentiators in the Concept Searching platforms is the re-usability of the core technologies, to solve multiple content management and business process challenges. This provides a cost benefit in terms of elimination of separate solutions to address key application challenges, a reduction in staff to implement and maintain the applications, and transparent usability from the end user perspective. The flexibilty of the intelligent metadata enabled solutions can address search, records management, eliminate data privacy and data breaches, provide intelligent migration, social media applications, text analytics capabilities, and over all content management. The ability to leverage the existing infrastructure to improve these challenges assists the CIO/CTO in addressing multiple issues concurrently. An additional key component in the Concept Searching platforms is the ability to deploy in an on-premise environment, cloud, or hybrid environment.
The management of knowledge is a significant and on-going task for knowledge managers, librarians, or taxonomy specialists. With content continually in a state of flux, the management of knowledge necessitates a multi-dimensional approach to capture, make available, share, and maximize the value of content, to achieve organizational knowledge. Managed effectively, this leverages content assets as well as captures intellectual assets which ultimately drives innovation. Using conceptTaxonomyManager, a core component in all platforms, the tools for development and management of taxonomies. Designed for Subject Matter Experts, the interactive tools provides an easy-to-use interactive interface. The product provides a rules-based engine that eliminates the need for training sets and highly specialized human resources and is unique to conceptTaxonomyManager. Other unique features in the product include automatic taxonomy node clue suggestion, dynamic screen updating to immediately see the impact of changes in the taxonomy, and document movement feedback to see cause and effect of changes without re-indexing.
In professional services firms, knowledge users are predominant and have diverse responsibilities. The need to access relevant information to their specific role not only increases productivity but also contributes to organizational profitability. This can be a challenge to determine the appropriate content for services offerings, as well as addressing the needs of multiple communities, geographies, locations, industries, sectors, service lines, and account teams who all need information that is relevant to them. Because of the ability to generate compound term metadata that represents a concept, the ambiguity in search is removed. Eliminating the presence of subjective and erroneous metadata, metadata is automatically generated and classified to the taxonomies where it can be managed and refined. Working with any search engine, the metadata is fed to the search index to enable concept based search across the organization. Users no longer need to know ‘how to search’ as the combination of the metadata and taxonomies can return relevant information, or guide them to the information they need. Since the products aggregate content from diverse repositories, users are provided with a holistic view of content regardless of where it resides.
Project Teams, Account Teams, Managers
The ability to share information via collaboration across global locations in real time reduces the possibility of error and redundancy in emails, and locates the most current documentation. Effective collaboration and knowledge capture can also achieve benefits to an organization in applications such as project management, awareness of organizational knowledge, employee induction and training, expertise location, communities of interest, collective intelligence, and innovation management. The Concept Searching technologies provide insight into content; grouping similar users, concepts, and content together; and identifying people with expertise, and knowledge or interest in a topic. The end result is consistent understanding of the value and context of information. It also provides confident cross-organizational decision support capability, shared knowledge, and the enterprise-wide availability of knowledge, to increase organizational performance.
Information Technology Professionals
Regardless of whether you are a SharePoint Administrator, or the CTO, Concept Searching technologies make your management of metadata easy. Integrated natively with the SharePoint Term Store, Concept Searching platforms remove the manual processes of metadata management, eliminates end user adoption issues, and aligns IT with business objectives. Installed quickly and easily, you can start classifying content in a matter of hours. Without a taxonomy expert on staff, the interactive, powerful, yet easy-to-use taxonomy tools can be used by business or IT professionals. Organizations can build an enterprise metadata repository and provide the re-usable technology to improve any application that requires the use of metadata.
Since information is the lifeblood of professional services firms, the organization is highly vulnerable to internal and external data privacy exposures and breaches, where repercussions can be costly and damage the brand of the organization. In fact, organizations are now being held legally liable for personal social media postings, if they originated from within the organization. The value of the Concept Searching platforms is the ability for the organization to define what is confidential information and should be protected, either internally or externally. Standard descriptors such as social security number are included in the base product. The value achieved is content that is deemed confidential is easily added to address specific organizational requirements. Content containing the vocabulary or descriptors is automatically flagged at creation or ingestion and routed to a secure repository, made unavailable during the search process by unauthorized users, and protected against portability.
In records management eliminating end user tagging, automatic application of content types, and routing of the document of record to the records management application reduces organizational risk, and improves information lifecycle management. Concept Searching product platforms eliminate end user tagging and automates document workflow for storage, preservation, access, and usage controls, and automatically enforces protection of the records integrity throughout the individual document lifecycle eliminating many of the fundamental obstacles faced by records professionals on a day-to-day basis.
Legal and H/R Professionals
Legal teams, litigation support, and Human Resource (HR) professionals all need quick, easy, and rapid access to relevant information. The key is to facilitate the search process and reduce unproductive queries to try to ‘find’ the relevant information. HR must also ensure that the organization protects the privacy of all staff and eliminates any exposure that increases the risk of potential litigation. Legal needs to ensure the security of content assets from unauthorized access and portability, before an exposure occurs. Since information is retrieved by identifying concepts the legal or HR professional can eliminate complex queries and through vocabulary normalization, ambiguities are eliminated and related content is identified even though the specific vocabulary wasn’t specified in the query.
Professional services firms often cross global boundaries, and additional security and compliance mandates are critical to the process of managing the compliance challenges associated with unstructured information. The drain on resources and time is enormous, making it difficult to keep abreast of mandates and multinational content asset protection. The value of the Concept Searching platforms is the ability to rapidly develop information governance and compliance rules that can immediately identify any compliance violations at the time of content creation or ingestion. These violations can then be flagged and automatically routed to a repository for disposition.
Social Networking Specialists
Using social networking applications is both an internal and external communication and knowledge sharing vehicle. Done correctly, the benefits in both scenarios delivers value to the organization. On the internal side, social networking applications often do not have a framework that is robust enough to encourage participation or delivers value. End user participation is typically very low unless it brings individual value to assist in increasing personal productivity. With new search features putting control of social interactions in the hands of the end users, organizational performance is not effectively improved and is often the reason for failure. Providing structure and the ability to aggregate highly relevant, precise, and granular content from within a social networking application encourages participation and leverages not only knowledge assets but also intellectual assets, and corporate memory.
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