06 Dec Connectors – Hidden Success Factor for Universal Search
Single Source of Information. Is this the ultimate dream of all Enterprise Search Vendors, or is this reality about to happen?
Call it Insight Engine, 360° View, or like earlier Enterprise Search and Universal Search, the common denominator is to provide search across as many enterprise information sources as humanly and technically possible, and then some. From 10,000 feet above, a great promise and the best solution for all current problems of information technology. Let’s find out.
The successful vendors on the market utilize a search engine, very frequently Elasticsearch, and some do their own proprietary engine. Simplified, they do all the same. We at IntraFind long ago established for us that the search engine is commodity, earlier it was Lucene and today it is Elasticsearch. So why bother to create your own. And an Insight Engine is much more than a search engine. So, we put our efforts into integration and a soup to nuts, top to bottom product, that balances between the technologically possible and the user’s necessities. One area of importance is the sourcing of information, the enrichment of that information with meta data and the understanding of the security context of that information. All of that with the ultimate goal to provide the individual user with the insight to information across his and her relevant sources.
Let’s call the sourcing of information from a specific source a connector. And the source can be anything from an Email System (like Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino) to an ERP product (from SAP to Microsoft Dynamics) to Line of Business Applications and any other content generating applications. For the vendor, we need to find the right slice of connectors to serve a wider user audience. If you do that on a project basis, no issues. Customer pays, and everyone lives happily ever after.
That brings me to the point, that cost is not abstract at all. It can be the ultimate driver for a particular innovation, or its death sentence. If the benefit is not superior to the cost, why bother. If we, the software vendor, cannot provide value, no one will go for it. And especially with connectors, the cost of development grows with the measure, on how deep the connector is integrated into the source system.
Let’s use ERP as an example. Under the fair assumption that an Insight Engine is not to replace the ERP product, but to extend the reach of the wealth of information of that ERP into the non-ERP user group, why deeply integrate and ask the Insight Engine to re-create the functionality of the ERP. Where in fact, most of the new users need only a portion of the information. A 360º view into the customer only needs to show whether an invoice has been paid or not, and maybe the dunning letters if they are of vital interest to the non-ERP user. If someone wants to know to what bank account an invoice has been paid, well, that is a question usually only of relevance to the FiCo team. And the FiCo team finds the answer in their ERP product, they will likely never look into the Insight Engine for that answer. Again, why bother to put that information there if nobody is using it.
So, what is important? From my point of view, the information that there is an invoice, with its date and receiving party. If you need to look further, provide access to the original source from within the Insight Engine. And this is the first requirement, providing access. As simple as opening another application in a new window or more elaborate with embedding the original into the User Interface of the Insight Engine. Which one is best does not really matter, the user’s benefit is the judge. Let this be the first slice of our dreamed-of-connector.
Having the data, and as such all the information now, it comes to the point of tailoring access to that information. Secured access to information, and not only from a legal data protection point of view, is pinnacle and must never be compromised or bargained with. It might sound as a contradiction, but usually a simplified authorization model for those documents just does very fine for Insight Engines. If detailed information (how much interest is in the invoice) is anyway not asked for using the Insight Engine, there is no need to ingest that information and data and consequently, there is no need to protect it. Assessing the audience very quickly helps simplify the efforts to secure the information against unauthorized access and view. The secure access is our next slice.
We have the information and the data, we secured the access to the data, the next step is to provide a preview to the data. This preview helps our bespoken non ERP user to still use the wealth of information, without the need to learn how to use that software. The preview is our next slice in cutting down on our initial issue of not having a single source of information.
Sourcing the information, guaranteeing security, providing a simple-to-use preview, these are all requirements a connector needs to support. And this being highly integrated into the Insight Engine, makes it become a powerful source of information. Users accessing distinct information through a single, easy to use, yet powerful Insight Engine, for me, that’s a problem solved. And if this really is the single source, that would be just the icing on the cake. I’ll have a slice of that.
The combination of the search functionality and the slice of data and information does the trick. And the trick is: finding what needs to be found. The use cases differ even inside an organization, from e-discovery to a simple customer or project file. With the right combination of features and functions all those use cases can be solved with one product. And a little advertisement might be in order, we call this iFinder5 elastic.
So, a well fitted Insight Engine is really the best thing since sliced bread. And this is ready and available to be used right here and right now. Slice yours today.