Anant Corporation Blog

Our research, knowledge, thoughts, and recommendations about building and leading businesses on the Internet.

Webinar 4 Recap: How to Organize Business Information with Enterprise Search & Knowledge Management (B2B)

Thank you to everyone who recently joined us for our final installation of the autumn B2B webinar series focused on data integration and data management basics!

 

We plan to put together more informational webinars in the new year. Before winter settles in, though, imagine yourself on a deserted, tropical island with only a boat and just a few hours until sundown. In the distance, you can see other islands and you know each of them has just one thing you need — food, water, fuel, shelter, etc. The problem you now face is how to get to all of the islands in an efficient manner before sundown. However, without knowing which island has the fuel to power your boat, you are left guessing and hoping you can get everything. If only you had a map – or all of the supplies could be obtained from a central location – this process would be so much quicker, simpler, and easier. In the workplace, this problem plays out every day when you need to search for reports, documents, and other digital assets that help you efficiently run a business or project.

 

Do you find yourself using multiple systems to get your work done – Salesforce for lead tracking, G-Suite for collaboration, Box for digital storage, Sharepoint for site management, etc. – and feel like the technology gets in the way as you bounce from one application and window to another? Each time you sign up for an online service or install an app, you create a data island or data silo. These semi-isolated islands can rapidly grow in size and number and, without a plan to manage this growth, can quickly lead to wasted time and money as you look for things or redo a previously completed report. Last week’s webinar touched on these issues and, more importantly, shared how you can take control and bring these islands together with a knowledge management system and enterprise search.

 

Knowledge management is the process of creating, sharing, using and managing the knowledge and information generated by your company. Martin White, an enterprise search and information management strategy consultant, has defined enterprise search as, “a managed search environment that enables employees to find information they can rely on in making decisions that will achieve organization and personal objectives.” These two concepts complement each other and the webinar goes into far greater detail about their importance to your company and how you can think about them as you set up or revamp your knowledge management processes.

 

Remember, just like with a car or bike, there are systems to meet all sizes and budgets. We highly recommend you take the time to assess the systems you are looking at and understand what some of your objectives are before spending the money to connect your islands and silos of information. Having these goals and objectives in mind beforehand will save you countless hours during setup and limit the time and expense of future changes you might want to make as your company grows. You might ask yourself, “Why should I go through the headache of this in the first place, it sounds dreadful,” and, to this, I would reply that not leveraging technology will leave you at a competitive disadvantage. With a proper knowledge management and search system in place, you will be nimbler and obtain more insightful analysis into your operations and clients at both a tactical and strategic level.

 

You can find the slides from the presentation below:

 

This webinar was the last in a series of three others which included:

  1. Webinar 1 – Building Online Business Software 101 (B2B)
  2. Webinar 2 – How to Connect Online Business Software 101 (B2B)
  3. Webinar 3 Unifying Business Information with Portals and Dashboards (B2B)

 


Come see us present in person at one of our upcoming events. Anant can be reached at solutions@anant.us for questions, inquiries, and comments.

Webinar 4: How to Organize Business Information with Enterprise Search & Knowledge Management (B2B)

Where is it?!

 

You know you have it and just can’t find it right away.

 

With the myriad of online and on-premise systems available today it is very easy to get frustrated and delayed as your organization drowns in a steady flow of data generation. What is even more aggravating is that you know this issue costs you not just money, but opportunities as well. Your operational efficiency is negatively impacted and, according to various reports and our own experience with clients,  this unnecessary restriction impedes your ability to maximize the value you can provide to your customers and partners.

 

Today, we have Google, Bing, and other search engines to comb the world’s information. What these engines do not see is everything on private networks, your corporate devices, and enterprise servers — and there really is no great, off the shelf solution to pick up the search slack. Very few companies have an efficient search engine for their own internal systems, yet an employee can often be found asking how can it be so hard to find an internal document. The solution to this problem begins with something called enterprise search, which Martin White defines expertly in his book (highly recommended buy) as, “Enterprise search is a managed search environment that enables employees to find information they can rely on in making decisions that will achieve organization and personal objectives.”

 

In this webinar, we will cover actionable steps that you can take in order to pluck your business information out of the depths of your many disconnected business systems such as Salesforce, WordPress, and more. We will also look at potential ways you can implement enterprise search best practices in order to get a hold of your business information and deliver what you do best in a faster and more efficient manner.

 

You can sign up for this Friday’s webinar here. We will start at 10am with a short introduction, followed by a presentation of the topic and demo and, if time allows, finish off with an open-forum style discussion. We look forward to seeing you there!

 

If you would like to check out some light reading prior to the webinar, this post by Martin White is a primer on what to consider when undertaking the development of an enterprise-wide search strategy.

 

 


Come see us present in person at one of our upcoming events. If you are in the DC area next week, Rahul will be moderating the monthly Data Wranglers DC event on Wednesday evening (11/9) at 6:30pm Presenter Mark Chapman will speak about integrating real-time data by using Apache Spark and Kafka for video and data stream analysis.

 

Webinar 3 Recap: Unifying Business Information with Portals and Dashboards

Thank you to everyone who joined us for last week’s webinar! The webinar was a continuation of our business software 101 series and focused on available business intelligence (BI) applications for reporting dashboards. With the ever increasing number of online systems and related data, there are troves of information available for managers and executives to pore over when analyzing performance, planning for future opportunities, or identifying inefficiencies. This webinar talked through some of the different challenges decision makers face in this process and low-cost, but powerful, tools that are available to help in dealing with this challenge.

 

To show the power of these tools we demo-ed four different BI applications; two open source and two commercial Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) products.

 

First was Metabase, an open source project with a strong developer community continually working to improve it (see GitHub page here), is one of the easiest BI tools to set up and get started with for non-technical users. This is one of our favorite tools as it doesn’t require users to be versed in SQL and it’s easy to generate automatic reports that can be emailed or integrated with messaging software such as Slack (which we love here at Anant!).

 

Next, we covered a more technical reporting tool called Redash. Users need to know some SQL or other database query languages to maximize its utility. The reporting tools are robust with the ability to handle and visualize large amounts of data.

 

We finished with two commercial products, Cyfe and Domo. Cyfe is a lightweight monitoring tool that can be paired with Alexa, Google trends, WordPress and more. Domo, which is widely considered to be one of the most sophisticated data integration and analysis tools, is an expansive platform that anyone interested in BI tools should check out before making a final decision (they have a free one-user demo account that you can sign up for here). We like Domo for its ability to handle queries that rely on millions of rows and its data manipulation features, which help with the process of extracting, transforming, and loading data. This process is commonly referred to as ETL and we have done it for a number of our clients.In short, while Domo is not open source, it provides a breadth of features not found in the other applications and is much more customizable to your needs.

 

You can find both a recording of the presentation and the accompanying slides below:

 

 

 

If you’re interested in learning more about please reach out to us directly or join us next month. We will look at approaches to managing the information and knowledge inside your company. You will come away with ideas about how to solve the challenge of finding the information you need but seems to be ever more difficult to find.

 

Business Software 101 Series:

Webinar 1 – Building Online Business Software 101 (B2B)

Webinar 2 – How to Connect Online Business Software 101 (B2B)

Webinar 3 – Unifying Business Information with Portals and Dashboards (B2B)

Webinar 4 – Organizing Business Information with Enterprise Search & Knowledge Management (B2B)

Strategy Breakfast – Wins and Failures in Big Data Projects

Last week we hosted a monthly Strategy Breakfast at the brand new Social Tables office near Metro Center. The group discussed issues that hinder enterprises when they attempt to undertake big data centered solutions, lessons that can be applied from implementation mistakes, and best steps to ensure success in data analysis efforts. A special thank you goes out to Social Tables and its staff for hosting and participating as well as to Mike Seigel (@mikejsiegel) who made this event possible.

 

Many companies and enterprises are already looking at or understand the importance of harnessing value from their data. A critical point addressed at the breakfast related to determining what types of information you want to extract from your information; and that you may not know what queries to ask when starting out on the implementation of a “big data” analysis or integration endeavor. One attendee suggested listing out questions you believe the project will potentially answer and establish a baseline for success – establish your desired outcome for the project. These questions and the success threshold will vary by company but will help you focus on critical business problems or challenges you are attempting to overcome. Basically, these are questions you want answered and you can clearly explain why you want them answered. For example, will the answers provide a greater understanding of project costs? Ways to improve operational efficiency? Will they better or more quickly inform decision-making? This exercise should initially be done internally by company stakeholders from various departments before engaging an outside firm to help hone the questions and construct the infrastructure for a solution.

big data

 

Over the course of the discussion, a consensus emerged that most big data projects aren’t really big data projects. Most of these projects are actually business analytics projects with a high level of complexity caused by the integration of both new and legacy systems. Many companies rush towards a “big data” solution without clearly defined business problems they want to address or not identifying benefits they wish to reap from their business information. Essentially, for a project to be successful a company needs to undertake a thorough assessment of its internal processes and desired outcomes to fully realize the benefits of data collection and analysis. Most “big data” projects don’t revolve around the issue of data sets being too big, as much as they do around connecting isolated data troves, appropriately framing the business benefits that will arise from answering data-driven questions, and finding the appropriate talent to build the infrastructure.

 

Join us later this month as we continue to look at technological issues facing today’s businesses and modern enterprises. The discussion will most likely focus on open-source data analysis tools you can use to help your company become more data-driven without making a significant monetary outlay. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any suggestions!

 

If you wish to learn more you can attend our webinar on “Unifying Business Information with Portals and Dashboards (B2B)” on October 14, at 10AM.

 

Webinar 2 Recap: How to Connect Online Business Software 101 (B2B)

Thank you everyone who joined us for our latest webinar! Last week, in the business software 101 series, we presented some of the basic methods available to businesses looking to integrate their web-based applications. An important thing to keep in mind is there are a multitude of applications available with different levels of complexity and customization to meet your business needs. The commercial and Service-asa-Software (SaaS) tools discussed were generally on the higher end of the customization and complexity scale (Ex: Cloudpipes, Neuron ESB, Elastic.io, and Mulesoft).

 

For demonstration purposes, Rahul showed participants and viewers how to create a relatively simple integration between Trello (a project planning tool) and Slack (a communication tool) via the use of Zapier (an application commonly used to integrate two or more web applications). This integration is one we use at Anant to quickly add cards to our Trello boards which we use for brainstorming and general product iteration. It is a useful integration for business users, assuming they use Slack, because they can easily push an idea directly from Slack to Trello without switching applications.

 

The integration above is useful for coming back to things later. Fortunately, we also share things on our blog and if you weren’t able to join us or want to review the materials again you can find them below for future reference.

 

 

We plan to continue the series next month with a webinar focused on the use of web portals and dashboards to display your business information in a single, unified location. We’ll also touch on common challenges businesses face in managing their information and look at some web portal and dashboard technology currently available. You can register here for the Friday, October 14, event that will kick off at 10am EDT.

 

If you can’t make the next webinar try one of our other events or join us for donuts on September 30 at our next business strategy breakfast roundtable.

 

Business Software 101 Series: