Thursday, June 25, 2009

Searching What or searching Who, special thanks to Eric Juin

In the title of his article (in French), "Search : Sinequa searching What or searching Who", Reynald Flécheaux, Editor of the Mag IT ( illustrates issues Sinequa has identified in recent years: enterprise search is not just about seeking documents. Incidentally, this is an opportunity to read (in French I'm sorry) a clear, well structured article and to see a nice screenshot.

Let's explore this idea that enterprise search is not limited to finding documents. Very simply, let's start from the business driver: why do enterprises need a search engine? Answer: It depends, but facilitating access to document/information is rarely the only goal

Indeed, behind the need for information, there is knowledge and experience, particularly knowledge within context for better decision making. Users of the Sinequa solution are not scholars in quest of new knowledge, and they are professionals who wish to carry out their missions. For example: 1) a manager wants to have the full client history to sell a new life insurance product, 2) a lawyer wants to find the answer to a question related to property taxation, 3) a researcher wants to know if the patent that he/she plans to file uses a state of the art technology already discovered by another researcher of the same company.

In other words, what do our users need? Of course information, but integrated in the context of their objectives and business needs. Often we prefer identifying the relevant person or persons in order to ask questions, or to initiate collaborative efforts, instead of just reading a document.

That's why Sinequa extended the functionality delivered to Bouygues Construction in 2006 (see article in French by Bertrand Lemaire for CIO Magazine "Bouygues Construction is guided in an ocean of information"), who's brief could be reduced to: "any foreman experiencing a problem must be able to identify others in the company who have had a similar experience." Sinequa has developed around its search solution a set of people-oriented features and application-level integration with important collaborative tools and social networks. Eric Juin, Director of KM and e-services at Bouygues Construction, has inspired us and helped Sinequa to better understand these topics. I personally thank him.