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For many companies, implementing SharePoint for collaboration and sharing reflects not only their increasingly complex necessities in terms of flux of information, but also its development itinerary. The way one operates with information can simply give us clues for the value it haves for the organization’s members. The value of different types of information can be derived through the benefits and changes they can bring in the long term.

This brings us to the issue of newly implemented changes in SharePoint 2013, which directly impacts the way we operate with data. The impact which such changes have for the individual behavior sums up in time at the organizational level of behavior, redefining the organizations’ “modus operandi” and, later on, the development structure of the organization.

In order to illustrate this idea, let’s take a look on the recently SharePoint improved feature: Search.

SharePoint 2013 as Search Driven Application

Similarly to a simple web search engine, a business search-driven application can deliver us relevant insights about what people are interested in but, most of all, what people don’t know yet. Which is the bit of information we need to advance in our work, and – finally – to evolve.

Search not only indicates where we want to get, but also where we want to get within a set of limits – which, in the specific case of search verticals – it loosens all knowledge barriers – by making them accessible.

The new SharePoint Search facilitates an easier information juggling, faster access, better file organization and increased search relevancy. Moreover, this functionality can be used to transform SharePoint into a genuine “search pond”. Besides being a place for gathering, SharePoint 2013 becomes a “search-driven application”, having an impact company-wide.

Within this frame, using the existing SharePoint Search benefits we can create functionalities which can maximize results in three directions: data distribution, access and search.

To illustrate this idea, I’ll be using as an example a project to which Accesa contributed and which encapsulates all the attributes for a “search-driven application”. The problems we had to solve were:
• very difficult access to documents, which were organized on a folder-structure base;
• the inability to search through documents’ content;
• inappropriate document naming conventions, which were not relevant enough for an easier search.

What makes the SharePoint 2013 Search innovative is the Search Vertical function. Search Verticals allow organizations to map their processes and resources into search queries, enhancing document availability and organization. Also, Search Verticals provide a category-based search which can be customized for getting more relevant information.

The project was primarily a complex migration solution which involved creating a customized multi-level search. Thus, transforming the SharePoint site into a genuine search-driven application.

From the multi-level search perspective, the most important features of the project were:
• Introducing tags for better document organization and search;
• Easy information discovery enabling a user-friendly displaying mode;
• Mapping filters as search context;
• Using user-generated search context to increase search relevancy;
• Multi-dimensional data structure: search can be made by region, country, tag, author, file type, etc.
From the document migration perspective:
• Setting up the location of the uploaded documents (different departments, divisions, regions);
• Enabling additional information for each document (location, tag);
• Security-trimmed search results;
• The ability to upload content relevant to the filters specific to the search context;
• Facilitated knowledge sharing.

What these features can tell us about the evolution of organizations?

SharePoint is widely used in middle-weight and big companies. At a larger scale, every small improvement can have a big impact and give us clues about how we can project the future functionalities, considering the present functionalities.

• With reference to the usage of categories and tags – organizations are getting more and more complex.
• With reference to user-generated search contexts – beyond being knowledge-centered, organizations become memory-centered, valuing the contribution of each member so that search becomes easier – encouraging individual work and research.
• With reference to enabling data access from different locations – from the local SharePoint site – it encourages sharing information between people who are located in different areas of the world and transforming the available information of general interest. This could increase information transparency and initiative from the employees’ side.
• User friendly – user-centered – organizational search reveals us the value of the individual – where every bit of information is important and it is destined to be used at its maximum accordingly to each employee’s abilities.

 

The author: Cornelia Stan, Creative Consultant, Accesa – Cornelia is Accesa’s representative in matters of innovation and creativity, which are indispensable in the management of technological change. Also, her main interests consist in finding and spreading ideas which can ultimately drive a shift of perspective. E-mail address: cornelia.stan@accesa.eu.

Accesa is corporate member of the German Outsourcing Association and contributes to the exchange of knoweldge and expertise within the German, Austraian, Swiss and European IT and business community.

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