Category Archives: enterprise2.0

iDubya’s are Enterprising Searchers and other things learned on MSoft’s Bar Tab

The good folks at Microsoft and High Road invited a dozen or so of us types out for drinks last night to talk all about Microsoft and Enterprise Search to us. After taking, of course, the (dubious) precaution of well saucing us in advance. We bloggers are a surly lot of soapboxers at the best of times.

This is what I learned:

# Microsoft actually calls their enterprise search product by what it does “enterprise search”. Kudos. More companies should do that. Esp, this from a firm that once brought you branding horror shows like “Windows Live Local”.

# Microsoft calls Information Workers IWs, pronounced i-dubya’s

# IW’s want to be able to find information and expertise inside their organizations

# Search increasingly interface of choice – (though Bryce points out there’s frequently also a backlash because today Enterprise Search tends to be so bad in reality
Good/better specialized search products tailored for various industries exist but very expensive

# Consumer web search (eg product search) keeps getting better and raising the bar. Users expect Enterprise Search to work as well as Google internet search and the i-dubbya’s get upset because it doesn’t.

# Search is not just about search boxes but also something to do with “facets” and intuitively narrowing down results by ticking through categories of results (like eBay or Amazon searching). Letting users build sophisticated queries step by step without them even knowing they’re doing it.

# Microsofties consciously try very hard not to use “google” as a verb in regular conversation. Unsuccessfully.

# The trouble with Enterprise search is because “pagerank” doesn’t work as well in the enterprise. There’s much less useful link structure in corporate intranets to help identify most relevant content.

# [Social Media in the enterprise a.k.a. Social Computing is clearly the answer to this]

# Microsoft thinks that social side of search will be the killer app in the enterprise – but they don’t really have a credible story (yet) as to what they’re going to do enable that. Technically
Sharepoint supports blogs and wiki’s, and technically these are “social media” but I don’t believe MS quite “gets” social computing in the enterprise just yet (they are thinking hard now though, wait for SharePoint 2011).

# Potential long term MS advantages in search, they control the desktop, the user directory, the intranet portal and the rest of the hydra that is SharePoint, so theoretically they have a lot of implicit and explicit data they could be using to inform search.

# MS is looking to search as the catalyst to sell/upgrade SharePoint 2007 into organizations

# Other troubles with Enterprise Search: i-dubya’s find stuff they weren’t supposed to find, customer data, search for “confidential” in docs etc. and all that porn stashed on the shared folder.

Things I learned from what MS didn’t talk about:

# MS is not talking about visual search. (get idée for that!)

# MS is not talking about federating desktop search across multiple desktops. (Damn, for someone who works from 3 computers). I guess that’s what Groove is for.

# MS is not talking about video or audio search (Sutha and I were thinking about machine transcription and indexing of voip conference call meetings or video media)

# MS is not talking about Enterprise Search as a filter for driving better search results on the outside web. This is another (theoretical) killer app talked about by social computing types.

# MS is not talking about Social Bookmarking at all (but then I have mixed feelings about social bookmarking myself).

Thanks to Jared Spataro of Microsoft for the show and tell.

Enterprise 2.0 Conf and Camp Update

e20 Things are coming together for the event on the 29th. I’m happy to announce a great looking lineup. We’ve added John Bruce who’s Enterprise Social Media Company iUpload recently raised 7M in VC funding. John will be providing a real world perspective from their experience deploying Enterprise 2.0 to major organizations (iUpload’s client list includes firms from McDonalds to Deloitte to the New York Times)

The workshop roster is also looking great:

Ticket sales are doing well, more than half way sold out. Get yours here if you haven’t yet.

The main thing we need at this stage is sponsorship. We’re still looking for 1-3 sponsors at either $500 to $1000. With 1 more sponsor we can afford to upgrade from continental to hot breakfast (yay!) and with 2-3 sponsors we can provide lunch to all the Workshop attendees. Let me know if your company can sponsor EnterpriseCamp.

The catch with Wufoo – got data… what next?

I’m still liking wufoo but now that people are actually using my form to make submissions, I’m running into the next obvious problem: Now What? Just collecting all the underpants information is -at best- only half the business problem anyone is ever trying to solve. Wufu does support a handy number of export options rss, excel, cvs. But if I’m going to do anything with this that isn’t just manual (like say format and spit the info back out to a consolidated webpage) I’m coming dangerously close to breaking the original assumption – that it’s super fast and I don’t have to know any php (god forbid).

What I really need is a oofuW service (Wufoo backwards, heh) that takes csv/rss/data and easy ajax/wizard like formating, does “stuff” with the input and spits out a pretty webpages appropriately (exactly the wufoo in reverse).

Interestingly, I also have the exact same problem with the eventbright ticketing service where I want to strip out certain fields and republish a “who’s coming” feed to my enterprisecamp.org website. So far I tried a csv to feed43 rss to drupal aggregator to try and semi-automate this. “semi” being the operative word, and “pretty ugly” being the other operative word.

suggestions? Is this a problem set that cries out for yahoo pipes? (I never did quite figure out what yahoopipes does)

2.0 Tools You can Use: Impressed by Wufoo

Do you need a webform for something but you a) don’t know squat about programming or b) know lots of squats but would rather not waste your kunfu on such a mundane thing? Then check out wufoo.

I was setting up this page the other day. Which took a grand total of about 20 minutes end to end. I’d never tried wufoo before, the usability is just that good. And it’s a joy to use. Lovely ajaxy, no programming required other than cutting and pasting a few lines of code to embed the form on my site (even that’s optional). And I got to pick the colors and add my own logo. sweet.

How the times change. The key is you don’t have to ask anyone to do it for you. The skills or the time required is not even a factor anymore with building (very simple) web apps like this.

Instant IT, just add water. recommended.

If we had had an enterprise grade version* of wufoo running behind the firewall at the bank, I can’t even begin to explain the internal process efficiencies that could have been achieved. [meanwhile that particular bank still has entire departments still dedicated to churning out standardized forms based on Word97/2000 and VB Macros – the horror]

*which is a version of wufoo that, sadly, doesn’t exist yet as far as I can tell – but we can always live in hope.