Perspectives from our CEO,
Organizations have long been struggling with how to make knowledge assets available to employees, partners, and customers. Although there have been major technological advances in how this information is captured and made available over the past two decades, these have mostly been around a single business process. For example, when I joined Servicesoft, we were pioneering the idea of using search and classification engines to help transfer information to customers as part of the emerging eService market. At OutStart, we initiated the idea of objectifying learning and making the development of learning component-based so that it could be consumed via a “just-in-time” model. This meant that learners interacted only with learning objects that helped them increase their knowledge, and therefore their value, to the organization. In the last decade, another silo of information capture has emerged in the form of Social Business Software, making it easier than ever to capture nuggets of knowledge that can help others. The interesting dynamic in all of this is that there are large investments being made to capture information and knowledge assets, but very little of it is actually accessible by employees or customers.
In the ‘90s, multiple software vendors tried to address the issue of information access by providing software to implement portals, whether they were used for helpdesk integration, customer support, intranets, or R&D to help with the collaboration and reuse of IP. As the technology evolved and search engines and appliances became available, the portals were replaced with implementations of enterprise search. The problem with this approach is that it views the search engine as a ‘one size fits all’ solution, as opposed to viewing it as an enabling technology that helps organizations address a business issue. Failed enterprise search projects became the norm as companies tried, and continue trying, to resolve their information access challenges by implementing new search appliances while they still have underlying issues around integration with other systems, classification and tagging, and a sub-par user experience.
I joined BA Insight last summer because I saw an immense opportunity to transform the way enterprise search is being implemented. I am sure you know that the amount of content that is being generated is growing exponentially across an increasing number of sources, and the inability to find the information assets our people need is costing us billions of dollars in lost productivity while leading to low morale and customer dissatisfaction.
When I evaluated the opportunity at BA Insight, I found the company to be uniquely positioned to provide a new approach to the unification of information that stops the pattern of enterprise search failures. We do this by transforming SharePoint, which has become ubiquitous across enterprises, into a unified information access platform that enables fast implementation of search-driven applications at a fraction of the cost of other options while de-risking search projects.
There are many notable and successful search-driven applications available on the Consumer Internet. Many are ‘killer apps’, and as a class they have fundamentally changed the way people interact with information. However, in comparison, corporate Intranets, customer support portals, helpdesk applications or knowledge management solutions don't come close to being killer apps, nor do they provide a remarkable user experience.
I found it intriguing that BA Insight has the technology, people, and partners to help catapult enterprise search to the next level. We replace a people-intensive, SI-oriented approach to implementation with a technology-based approach that is lower cost, lower risk, easier to implement, and easier to upgrade. We do the heavy lifting to make our products work with different versions of SharePoint as well as various versions of other software applications that exist within a customer’s infrastructure. We automate how content is tagged to improve findability and also provide out of the box capabilities to improve the user experience with how information is found and accessed.
I believe that in order for a company to be wildly successful, it must demonstrate the following five important attributes:
First is customer-centricity. Customers put their trust in startups with a vision, and we must partner with them to make sure they succeed. I am so proud of all of the customers I have had the honor of serving, as well as their achievements, and I consider it the cornerstone of my past success and BA Insight’s future success.
Second is our team. Our people have the experience and the desire to help our customers implement and deploy incredibly powerful applications. We want to help our customers build killer apps, as opposed to search portals. This is a team of high energy, committed, customer-centric experts who have embraced the idea that search-driven applications could be a lot better and are working to change how they get implemented. I am fortunate enough to have become part of the BA Insight team and am so proud of everyone who works here. In a short period of time, we have made incredible progress on many fronts and I feel strongly that everyone’s loyalty and belief in the company will continue to provide an incredible depth for us and help our customers transform how they work with search technology.
Third is the technology. We have a broad set of capabilities that extend the value of existing SharePoint investments, so we eliminate the need to change the underlying infrastructure, saving a lot of time and money. We have over 50 out of the box connectors, a world class auto-tagging engine for content within and outside of SharePoint, visual refiners to let users drill down and find information quickly, an active workspace with content assembly, and document preview capabilities. We also provide a lot of flexibility in how our technology can be implemented. Our full platform, for example, is particularly well-suited for new projects. On the other hand, if search-driven applications have already been implemented within an organization, then components of our platform can be leveraged to augment the existing technology to improve results.
Fourth is to be financially responsible. Company success is about investment and return on that investment, and it needs to be measured in two fronts:
- ROI, which is the pure quantitative and financial analysis, often measured as productivity gains.
- My preferred approach is return on value (ROV), which is qualitative and focused on items such as customer loyalty, employee morale, better decision-making, and the ability to find information faster to increase customer responsiveness. Many of these things impact productivity and are therefore ROI, but they aren’t often measured and are therefore difficult to quantify. Isn’t the impact of finding the right knowledge to be able to do one’s job priceless? If we are smart about how we invest our time, money, and energy based on return on value, then we will naturally bring tremendous value to our customers and market and end up as a growing, profitable company that is resilient through the ups and downs of the economy and market.
And fifth is promoting a strong work/life balance. Work is important, but we cannot forget our families and shouldn’t compromise being with them due to office pressures. For a long period of time I was a workaholic, but after my first son was born I committed to change. Over the years I have done my best to practice what I preach, successfully balancing work and family life, and I encourage our employees to do the same. I enjoy nothing more than spending time with my incredible wife and our great boys.
These attributes are prevalent at BA Insight, and I am very enthusiastic about the opportunities that lie ahead. I am extremely confident that we are well positioned to enable the future of unified information access as we help visionary organizations around the world realize the value of the collective intelligence that is being captured every day within the massive volumes of content they produce.