Using InfoApps to Unify Information Access and Improve the Enterprise Search Experience

Enterprise search doesn’t always have the best reputation inside many organizations. Often, this is due to several factors:

  • The content that people are looking for is located in some repository or application that is not accessible by the corporate search engine
  • The most timely and relevant information is not in the first set of results that come back from the search engine
  • Related documents are not automatically linked together for easy access and reference
  • Key details about the content of the results documents are not surfaced to help identify what is important

Unified information access (UIA) is really about identifying, extracting, and exploiting the power and value of all the information in an enterprise, both structured and unstructured. Although unstructured content accounts for 90% of all information according to IDC, most organizations have generally either significantly underinvested in technology and processes for addressing unstructured content or invested in substandard technology and processes for addressing unstructured content while spending significantly to handle structured data. In order to take advantage of this hidden information, organizations need to invest in unified information access and InfoApps that can deliver enhanced value and productivity.

InfoApps are purpose-built applications that provide fast, direct answers to specific questions or provide automated processes and workflows to accomplish a certain type of task. These applications are typically built on a unified information access platform that:

  • Is tailored to fit a specific task or workflow
  • Combine multiple technologies and tools, particularly search, workflow, analytics and collaboration
  • Integrate information from multiple sources
  • Incorporate domain and organization-specific term lists, taxonomies, and knowledge bases
  • Offer task and role-based interfaces to speed users through the process and get back to business

If you think about it, InfoApps are tools that knowledge workers can use to be more effective in their work lives. Good examples of this would be a customer service InfoApp for a call center agent that combines all of the knowledge and history about a customer with information about the products that they have purchased, any previous customer service history, and even information about what similar customers have requested and needed in the past while allowing them to search on this data to find exactly what they are looking for, regardless of where it resides. This application could lead the call center agent through a customer call and provide guidance and pertinent information when necessary.

Another example would be a medical worker’s diagnosis assistance InfoApp where all of the information about a particular patient is recorded from the electronic medical record, along with guidance and the latest research about any conditions that the patient has. This way the medical worker has all of this information available at his fingertips as he conducts an examination or potentially even posts the examination to provide the best information possible for her diagnosis and decision making.

Organizations that are dealing with information overload and the drag on productivity that occurs when workers can’t find what they need can learn more about this by reviewing the IDC Analyst Connection, “The Value of InfoApps for Unified Information Access“.

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