A few months ago, when I was talking to Jeff Fried in Barcelona about how BA Insight was doing, I didn’t realize I’d be working for them just a few months later. That trip to Barcelona was an important one. It offered me the chance to network with a lot of my friends in the community and catch up with Jeff, a former Microsoft employee and FAST expert. He is the CTO at BA Insight. We had previously chatted back at another conference before the new year. One lesson I’ve learned well is networking. It pays to make lots of friends and to share.
I know I’ve been a bit quiet on my blog as to what I’ve been up to, but have slowly revealed changes to my career as my 3 month renewable contract with ViewDo Labs ended. A lot of my friends at VDL are no longer working there. If you get a chance to catch up with some of them, I encourage it. They learned a lot about the apps market in the Yammer space. Lot of changes in the Yammer world as it gets more deeply integrated into Office 365 and David Sacks announced his departure. Enterprise Social will always have a place in my heart -with so many experiments going on and each company having a different culture and aptitude. This past year’s focus on Enterprise Social has been appropriately timed. I feel like I can evangelize enterprise social within any organization now.
So, what do you know about BA Insight? Well, we are experts in enterprise search implementations. When I was working for a large enterprise customer in Salt Lake City, I had the opportunity to sit down with a few of BA Insight’s experts. We were currently doing some pretty big projects around enterprise search as we were looking at SharePoint 2013. We were really invested in building a powerful search experience that was intuitive and really understood the users building a search-driven app including focus on expertise search and leveraging metadata on users. At that time, what I discovered after looking around was that BA Insight had become the definitive experts on enterprise search, helping both customers and consultants in their search implementations. It’s exciting that I’m now working for BA Insight.
Allow me to share a tiny bit on what I’ve learned so far…
As I’ve been ramping up, I’ve been learning a lot about our products and solutions. BA Insight used to be known as a “connector” company. Our connectors can connect Microsoft SharePoint to more than 50 enterprise systems for information access and cross-platform search. We have so many connectors that allow SharePoint 2013, 2010, FAST and previous versions of SharePoint to connect to a huge variety of backend systems. Here are a few examples: Documentum, eRooms, Websphere, Hummingbird, LiveLink, SAP, Siebel, Notes, Autonomy, FileNet, Connections, Opentext, SalesForce, Netdocs, SQL, Docushare, and a bunch of different legal systems. We recently developed a connector for Jive and are open to building a connector for companies that need one to other systems that we don’t already have developed. However, these are only a “piece” of the overall capabilities of the Knowledge Integration Platform. The AutoClassifier, for example, is brilliant. It helps set properties on your content based on your managed metadata and with a set of rules for both content already in SharePoint and for content that will stay in other systems. You really need to have good metadata so you can drill down and filter your search results quickly and easily, and that’s where our rich search UI comes in, providing search parts that give you the ability to drill down without needing to know Boolean search. At that point, it’s the Smart Previews that save you time. On top of the Office Web Apps in SharePoint 2013, you get previews for PDF, ZIP, and a huge variety of other formats including the old office formats that you’d otherwise miss. There’s even more, but I think this is a good start for understanding a few of the top capabilities of the platform. I’ve also learned that we’ve been doing some really innovative work on hybrid search and real federation, where the results are in one stream.
I’m still ramping up, but I’m very excited that I’ll be spending a lot more time with enterprise customers – both with business and technical folks. As well, you’ll likely see me at the big US conferences like SPTechCon Boston, and maybe even at a SharePoint user group. That’s not to say I won’t still be doing my “SharePoint Missionary work” as my new boss calls it. I will be doing quarterly visits to the global community, building new communities, and speaking at strategic events. As an example, next month I’ll be speaking at the Sweden Exchange Forum, Dutch SharePoint Congress 2014, Ukraine SharePoint 2014 event, and Slovenia SharePoint Days. I’m also excited to kick off a new community in Baku Azerbaijan. In these sessions, I’ll be delivering strategic enterprise search sessions to educate customers on how to find enterprise value and success in SharePoint through better search experiences. With the move to the cloud I have a lot to share around hybrid search experiences, and a focus on SharePoint Adoption. Very excited to be focused on one of the biggest investments in SharePoint 2013… Search!
Looking forward to an amazing year ahead with one of the most important companies to take us to into the future, BA Insight!