I am sure you have heard it all before: Customer 360° views, Account 360° views and Project 360° views. But has anyone actually delivered on this promise? I am not going to try and sell you that there’s a product out there that can do all this, but what I do want to bring to your attention is a new paradigm shift in the way information is accessed that can make this possible.
Just about every functional application or infrastructure application likely has some kind of dashboard that is marketed or sold claiming that it can show all of your data in a 360 degree view. To some extent, these claims are true. But all too often, the fact is, they can only show you a piece of the data that they have captured only within their own application and displayed in their own dashboard. Doesn’t sound like a true 360 degree view to me. And – if you want to see more you need to go down the expensive and time consuming integration path. Yuck!
The challenge for many organizations is that they are already saturated with applications that claim this capability. I often get asked, “So how does a business manager or IT manager justify buying another solution when they have already invested in all these disparate, but important systems?”
There are a few questions that I ask a client to answer before I give them an answer to this. Try answering these questions yourself:
- Does all the data you want to see in a 360 degree view come from the same application?
- Would a major physical integration project bring together the data that is missing and would it be effective?
- Do you want to modify your best of breed applications that have a specific function to perform, and try and get it to do something else at the risk of disrupting or diluting the purpose that it was purchased?
If any of these questions was answered with a no, then it is time to let your data do the talking!
The Enterprise Search 2.0 Platform is a platform that securely indexes data from each of your disparate systems into a single, unified index. Once all the systems are indexed, a search for a particular piece of data like an account number “200234594” can be searched for and found in multiple different sources – a CRM system, sales system, case management system, defect tracking system, or maybe a professional services engagement Statement of Work. The result set returned from the query will tell you which sources the data was retrieved from. Armed with this knowledge, logical relationships can be made at the index level giving you guided access to the full subset of data from any query looking for account information. There is more to it than the simple example I gave, but not much more. It’s certainly a lot simpler than a physical integration to do the same thing.
So to answer the original question above, I point out that you want to keep your best of breed solutions as pure as possible and optimized on their principal functionality. Secondly, by leveraging the notion of “letting the data talk,” there is less complex, disruptive and pre-planned integration-style projects that are costly and time consuming. The final point comes down to the fact that in most IT and business infrastructures, the data is never stored in one location, so you really want to access it from where it is stored. Note that the unified index I mentioned earlier does not move the data; the data stays where it belongs within the native application and the unified index simply references it when it is needed.
Leveraging the unified index through an Enterprise Search 2.0 Platform allows you to create those complete 360 dashboards filled with all the information you need without the major overhead of physical integration. In fact, I have seen many of our customer 360 projects take less than a month to implement from start to finish. Can you say that for other attempts at a 360 degree view of information? If not, I think it is worth a closer look at Enterprise Search 2.0.