Search is your online sales assistant

Author: Infomentum

Author: Natalia Bazanova

Whether you have physical shops or not, your website is considered another shopfront, and customers will treat it that way. If you can't find something in a shop, you ask a sales assistant. But what about if you can’t find something on a businesses website? There's often no online shop assistant to ask for help. That's where your customers will turn to a powerful search function to find out what they need from you.

But what if your search function doesn’t return relevant results? Well, in short, your customers will go elsewhere. Most likely, straight to your competition.

Oracle’s WebCenter Sites gives the simplicity and flexibility to manage complex, yet visually attractive, responsive websites. By combining WebCenter Sites with the power of Solr open-source search engine, we are able to deliver fast and information rich websites for our customers.

The additional functionality that Solr brings to Sites is the ability to offer the ‘Google’ style search that customers of today have become so accustomed to.

Using the Solr integration, we are able to enhance our customer’s web search results with various filters and facets, enabling web users to more easily drill down to the most relevant areas to them. It allows multi-lingual support; a bonus for a global website like BAE Systems which is hosted in many languages worldwide.

The Prince's Trust's online course search The Prince's Trust's online course search

Solr’s geo-spatial search qualities also allow search results to incorporate location data. For The Prince’s Trust, this means their website is able to display relevant courses to website users depending on where in the UK they are based.

Surprisingly, many modern websites still cannot accommodate spelling mistakes, a basic expectation of many website users. Solr search engine makes spelling suggestions, as well as fuzzy matches, whereby the search function will offer suggestions such as ‘did you mean this…?’ to find the most relevant content quickly, even if there is no exact match for the keywords used.

Any changes to page content are immediately reflected in search results and the relevancy
of the result documents. This enables marketing teams to make updates without website users seeing any disconnect in the search results. They are able to dynamically build filters and facets.

The importance of search can often be overlooked when creating a website. Remember – if your website is your storefront, then search can be your sales assistant. Both The Prince’s Trust and BAE Systems are benefiting from this enriched search functionality; and so are their customers.

Who owns ‘digital’ in a business?

Author: Infomentum

Author: Leigh Hopwood

The marketer does. No, the IT department owns it. Wait, it belongs to everyone.

Who owns digital in your business? Before you answer that, maybe we should understand what we mean by ‘digital’?

Digital marketing is now a common marketing discipline. It combines social media, email, websites and portals. Originally used to listen and broadcast, digital channels are now used to support customer service, with social media and web chat being the fastest growing customer contact channel in the UK.

But ‘digital’ is even bigger than that.

Not only are digital solutions supporting customer self-service through portals and online interactions, but these solutions are enabling customers, partners and employees to access information, transact and collaborate globally. The result is streamlined processes, increased productivity and significant efficiency gains.

To achieve this level of benefit, the whole business needs to be behind a digital transformation programme. Ultimately, the CEO owns the strategic direction of the organisation and in order to realise modern competitive advantage and adopt a digital business model, then it is the Executive Board that will take responsibility for implementing this progressive approach.

Will the CEO turn to marketing or IT to deliver a digital business model?

That depends on the organisation. However, it is more likely that a steering committee combining the CMO, CTO and CIO will be tasked with creating a strategic solution, drawing on their communication, technical and information strengths.

For some organisations, they will employ a Chief Digital Officer to take responsibility for the successful migration to a digital business. It’s a role that is increasingly being seen on the Executive Team, but once an organisation has evolved, it is anticipated that this role will disperse.

What we do know is that each department in an organisation has a vested interest in the digital evolution of their business. Each department head should be influencing the digital strategy and ensuring their line of business is willing and able to support this inevitable change.

The Importance of Information Governance

Author: Infomentum

Author: Leigh Hopwood

For some, information governance is a necessary but boring part of the Information Management and Content Management strategy.  For others, it’s the piece of the puzzle that creates the framework and culture to a strong and effective way to managing your corporate information.

With so much information and content circulating the planet, whatever your view, information governance is crucial to your enterprise. Without it, information will be leaking from your business and you will become vulnerable.

The biggest risks to the enterprise are in loss of IP, litigation costs and damage to reputation.  24% of organisations in the UK have had a compliance issue in the last 2 years.  The cost of storage is increasing because of the rising volumes of storage required.  Without an information governance framework in place, the risks are very real.  And senior management are finally taking them very seriously.

Fundamentally, information governance done well will protect your business and reduce your costs. It can make your organisation more competitive and worth more! It’s a win-win situation. But it is hard to deliver.

The CIO cares about information. However, it’s IT that needs to take back control of its systems and security by providing the right framework to meet the changing needs of employees, and customers. With so many sensitive documents across your business, they need to be protected and policies enforced to prevent inappropriate sharing. Quality Enterprise Content Management systems will help you do this, with the user in mind – you don’t want to stop users accessing the information they need afterall.

IT can’t be the data guardians in isolation. They have to talk to the people across the business to make sure they get it right, and get people onside. They’ll find ways around the system otherwise and efforts to create a strong culture of information governance will be lost.

Stats source: AIIM 2014.

Putting Your Users in the Driving Seat

Author: Infomentum

Research shows that a personalised web experience can increase click through rates by up to 300%. But how do you go about creating end-user driven navigation and search that works?

Life would be dull if everyone thought the same. Dull, but it sure would make web design simple.

If everyone's brains worked in the same way, you could create a fixed navigation for your site (public website, customer portal or intranet), confident in the knowledge that everyone would navigate around it in exactly the same way. But, back in the real world, of course they don't.

While it might seem intuitive to you for certain content and information to appear in a certain location, it might be the last place your customers expect to find it. But then you can't create a different site for everyone. Or can you?

End of the road for fixed navigation

Most sites use fixed navigation – a linear and supposedly logical way to find your way around. But this assumes that everyone's logic is the same. Which of course, it's not – as anyone who's ever watched an episode of The X Factor can attest.

So while fixed or perpetual navigation has often been seen as best practice, this doesn’t mean there are not even better alternatives. Today, it’s altogether possible to make the way content is presented dependant on the user journey – reorganising and re-emphasising relevant content in reaction to what the user does.

Understanding your customers

While this kind of user-driven (also referred to as ‘guided’) navigation and search is ideal, it's not always easy to achieve. For a start, if you want a site that responds to your users’ preferences, you'll first need to understand those preferences. And you can't do that unless they are registered with you and have a preferences-driven profile.

What you can do, however, is capture their behaviour as they move through the site and let the system decide what to render and when. But to do this you need to tag and classify all of your content using a strong classification mechanism. And ontology can help you achieve exactly that.

Ontology – the basics

Ontology is an advanced classification mechanism which defines how various entities in a hierarchy can be related or grouped. But unlike traditional taxonomy – the simple, hierarchical way most sites structure content – ontology is more about the semantic relationships between entities and hence the content.

For example, with tree-structured taxonomy you'd see something like this: Home > Products > Gifts > Chocolate. But with ontology the content would be tagged based on its semantic relationship (eg it would understand that chocolate is a gift, but it's also food).

To make this work for your site, you start by building relationships in your ontology and then continue to enhance the results by capturing your users’ behaviour, letting the system learn as it goes. That way, you'll end up with all of your content tagged by relationships, in ways you may well have never predicted.

Learning from Amazon and co

This approach shouldn't just stop at the first click or search result. If you keep adding to your users’ preferences at each level of the site, you will create a rich, personalised experience from start to finish. And the best part is that you can learn from users’ behaviour and enhance your ontology to gain deep insights into your own information relationships.

Take Amazon as the perfect example. You start by searching for a camera. Immediately, the results are filtered based on what Amazon has previously captured about your preferences. Then as the search filter becomes richer (eg as you filter by megapixel, brand and price) even then the products you see are related to your previous behaviour. Meaning you get to what you're looking for faster and you're clicking 'Add to basket' before you know it. Amazon can then go on to recommend more products that other buyers purchased.

Power to the customer

Why bother giving your users this much control over what they see and how they interact with your site? Simple. The more a site is personalised, the better the user experience and the more likely a user is to engage with it on a deep level. Whether that means buying from you or coming back to your site time and time again. Some sites using this approach have seen a massive 40% increase in their page views.

The more control a user has, and the more they drive the contextual search for content, the more you can learn about them. Which in turn means a better user experience for all your visitors.

And that's one bit of logic everyone can agree on.

Employers, Don’t Let Gen C Pass You By

Author: Infomentum

Author: Rachel Edwards

Generation C is not a group defined by their age; they are defined by their attitudes, behaviour, shared interests and constantly connected digital lifestyle.

It’s easy to forget than whilst it’s essential to engage Gen C as the consumer, giving them a rich and fulfilling online experience, your employees are just as likely to represent Gen C. How are you catering for Generation C in the workplace?

So how do they behave at work?

Because of their desire to be collaborative and their community orientated outlook, Generation C appear to be good problem solvers. If they don’t know the answer to something, they are far more likely to approach an online forum or community for helps and answers. What’s more, they understand how to perform more complex searches on search engines and internal systems. This is an invaluable asset to any business, as Gen C respondents of the survey were far more likely to describe themselves as inventive, ‘continually coming up with new ideas and different ways of approaching problems’. Encouragingly for employers, the study also found a positive correlation between being a part of Generation C and being driven at work. Gen C appear to want to go the extra mile to help the organisation succeed.

But they’re not being fully accommodated for at workGive Generation C the right information and the right technologies

Despite their positive effect on businesses, it appears as though Generation C are not being catered for
in the workplace; over half of respondents said that their IT systems at work are only ever updated occasionally, and many complained of outdated and slow systems.

One of their biggest bug bears at work is wasting time looking for lost documents. On average, they spend up to an hour a day searching for these documents, and 20% even said they waste additional time having to recreate these documents when they couldn't be located.

Shockingly, this wasted time is costing British businesses up to a staggering £15 billion per year.

But it’s not just easy access to documents that Generation C wants; they also value the ability to work flexibly and using the technology of their choosing. This means not only do they need easy access to documents, they want to be able to access documents on the go and from the device of their choosing.

Generation C aren’t just your customers; they’re your employees too. What are you doing to engage them? Download the full report, ‘Generating Success with Generation C’, to read more on satisfying Gen C employees.

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