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In the workplace, data has become the golden ticket for companies to drive sales and stay competitive. In terms of Big Data, the majority of the focus has been on the development of analytics – using your data insights gathered on your marketing, your sales, your customers, your products, new leads and so on to grow market share. All of this sounds good– hey it’s basically free marketing advice generated from your own information - but while this focus serves marketing and finance purposes, this emphasis fails to address the fundamental need of how we actually access those insights.

Big Data is nothing new, it has always existed – granted not in such quantities as we have today with all of our applications and collaborative sharing tools, but document management has been holding a large amount of data since the 80s and email storage has been “big” ever since the late 90s. As we move forward, there is no foreseeable end. In fact, according to IDC, by 2020 the amount of data will grow tenfold to 44 trillion gigabytes of existing information. However, on average, only 22% of data is useful, growing to 37% by 2020.

One major step where we have gone wrong with Big Data is the notion that all of our data can and should be brought together to co-exist in one super Big Data repository. When you combine all of this information together, it can be larger than the actual data you need to reveal insights into your company. The true power of data is in smaller subsets about individual customers or users that are unique to your goals. This allows you to take a targeted approach to the data and see if patterns emerge that can better be applied to high-value business decision to increase your bottom line. So what is the secret to capitalizing on this?

Search is the critical work function. As Big Data keeps growing in today’s current system, businesses need solutions to actively search, access and extract useful information from this large pool of data. Proper search enables greater access to the information required by employees to build a successful company.

As we take a closer look at how search plays a critical role in the enterprise process, it’s important to keep in mind that while Google is becoming eponymous with search, web searching is not the same as pulling information from a range of sources as part of the enterprise process. The onset of nonstop data being produced from everything from web history, emails and documents to contracts and CRM systems continues to grow on a daily – even hourly – basis, enabling organizations to access corporate knowledge that is more relevant and targeted than ever. 

Consequently, searching has become an onerous task. A 2013 study, conducted in both the UK and the US, found that on average workers in both markets spent up to 25 minutes looking for a single document in over a third of searches conducted. Furthermore, in 80% of cases it took up to eight attempts to find the right information. Only 20% of respondents reported first time successful searches.

From these statistics, we learn the importance of delivering relevant results to users. Despite the clear evidence for loss of worker productivity due to the failure of integrating a proper enterprise search tool, most of the attention on data retrieval still centers around how it can be used by marketing and finance departments. Departments such as sales, product development, product support and customer service that need access to information, whether stored on premise, the desktop or in the cloud, also need and have lacked the ability to easily and securely capture stored files.

Unlike a Google search that finds what is considered to be most relevant info based on visits and cookies and the more results the better, enterprise search should deliver information that is relevant to only the task at hand, be it in Excel, SharePoint or HANA database, email, desktop, mobile and so on.  For instance, the marketing department deals with a combination of data from social networks, mobile apps, CRM and product information. The mortgage department of a bank deals with loan histories, payment schedules and foreclosure status. While they are all different, each department may need to search through several databases, spreadsheets and file locations to determine trends, prospects and problems.

So what is the solution to putting your analytics and insights to use? In comes federated search, which works across multiple databases and returns de-duplicated results rather than a long list of irrelevant documents or emails. While searching across multiple applications, the existing data silos remain separate. In order to protect the security of documents and to assure the relevancy of documents, users remain in control of their content. Document indexes work in real time, so when a document changes so does the index and results can be delivered blindingly fast.

As the cloud services market grows and our workforce becomes even more mobile, it will be important that access to, and sharing of applications and documents, are simple. The ability to find a document instantly with a single search across multiple platforms will be vital to managing your continually growing data and extracting more accurate results to deliver analytics that can help increase your bottom line.

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