Findwise Findability Day 2014 – conference report

by | Sep 12, 2014 | Conferences, Intranets, Reviews, Search

This year Findwise moved the venue of its Findabilty Day to Copenhagen, and attracted an audience of over 200 along with a thousand or so who logged in to the live streaming. The day started at 10.00 with a summary of the 2014 Findability Survey. I’ll comment on the survey shortly when it is live on the Findwise website, but the core message is that adopting information management good practice will have a significant benefit on search performance and satisfaction.  That was very much the theme of my opening keynote in which I used the website search of the UK Office of Communications as an example of what happens when you ignore the precepts of information management.

Following me were a further eleven speakers, each with a 20 minute slot, and I cannot do justice to all the presentations. They ranged from improving an e-commerce site with better search, how graph databases work, using text analytics to improve a legal information service, the use of search-based applications in the Swedish Court system and the implementation of a search portal approach at Scania, the truck manufacturer. From my perspective there were a few that that really stood out. Nicklas Ericksson talked about the use of a search-based portal to implement what will become a digital workplace in Scania as the company seeks to double the annual number of trucks built whilst not expanding the workforce. That’s a strong business case for a digital workplace. David Montag (Neo4J) described the technology and applications of graph search very elegantly indeed.  I had seen Tony Russell-Rose’s presentation before on search use cases (you have all read the book that Tony wrote with Tyler Tate of course!) but I heard many positive feedbacks on his approach.  I also enjoyed the presentation on the way that search had boosted the revenue of Sprell, a small Norwegian e-commerce toy website by its founder Alexander Arnesen, which illustrated brilliantly that search is not just for big companies. The final paper was on IBM Watson, which intrigued me technically and concerned me ethically. The demo failed to work for technical reasons!  Sadly there were just a few papers which were really disappointing. I won’t embarrass the presenters and their organisations as I’m sure they will find out the errors of their ways in the evaluation form feedback.

I know I was attending as a guest of Findwise but I found it quite an exhilarating day because of the positivity of the presentations regarding the business impact of search. Both the Findwise survey and the AIIM survey (which I have seen but will not be released until 16 September) suggest that organisations are beginning to get the message and are taking a more strategic and business-focused view of search even though at present the quality of the search experience from a user viewpoint remains very poor. Findwise put a lot of effort (and investment) into the organisation and although most of the presenters were Findwise clients the company made sure that the Findwise presence was light-touch. My only disappointment was that the programme was so good I did not have an opportunity to enjoy Copenhagen bathed in Autumn sunshine. I still feel embarrassed by the actions of Admiral Nelson in destroying much of the city in 1807!

Martin White