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  • May 1, 2008
  • By Sue Feldman President, Synthexis, co-founder of the Cognitive Computing Consortium
  • Article

What Makes Search Great?

In contrast, Coveo was up and running in a week with no training required. Detweiler just downloaded the application. The ODBC driver was a standard feature. Coveo also came in at the top in configurability. Although DB2 outputs uppercase names only, Coveo let him define the body versus the metadata with an easy XML configuration tool. In six hours, he had loaded 1.6 million documents.

The benefits: Once the documents were loaded, Detweiler discovered that he could refine the search output as part of the configuration. In a half hour, he had defined the metadata he wanted to display in the results, including author, customer, address, operating system, products—and was up and running. There was no need to learn specialized commands. Appropriate analytics and reporting just automatically appeared. These include a number of product issues about which customers have asked. Reports can be quickly and easily exported to an Excel spreadsheet in a couple of minutes. There’s no need to ask a database expert to write a script. Once the data is in Excel, CA analysts can sort it and analyze it. If they want to add another parameter, they don’t need to reindex the entire database. The ability to export into Excel saves the product teams’ time. It was an unexpected feature from a search engine. Detweiler says that in addition to the "cool tools," he likes the fact that you don’t have to do any programming: "All you have to do is type."

Users are pleased, too. No training is necessary. The interface, with its browsing categories and drill down ("refine by"), was so intuitive that it won over partisans for other products. The application fits itself to the user, he says, rather than requiring that the user adapt to the application. While users are usually indifferent to new software applications, that isn’t the case with this application. Detweiler was careful to engage his constituents before he rolled out the application. In return, it has been greeted enthusiastically.

Today at CA, Coveo is installed on three Windows servers: two for production and one for development. CA updates the index nightly and mirrors the updates by region. Every half hour, changes trigger an incremental update. Coveo lets CA set different update policies for each information source. CA has indexed 2.5 million documents and will add another 13 million from its archives. The company also believes that an additional 10 million documents are "lying around." Detweiler says CA will easily reach 25 million documents, which will probably take him two days to load. The company has just formed a governance committee to prioritize which data to load first.

Now that Coveo has been deployed for technical support, it is supported by CA’s IT organization, and it will also become the company’s intranet search engine. Detweiler says people are lining up at his door to input their data. Facilities and asset management want to input their data to search it and also be able to export and analyze it. Use has grown well beyond the original objective. And then there are the unexpected benefits—the intangibles like uncovering unexpected usage data or like finding that both administrative and search interfaces help him sell users on search.

IDC’s Conclusion
In several IDC case studies in 2007, Coveo proved that excellent search and navigation can be affordable and easy to implement. The company has established a track record of outstanding customer service that solves the unique problems of each of its customers. Customers refer to downloading and trying out Coveo as "amazing" and an "enlightening experience." Features and price are often the starting points for searching for a search platform. However, according to Coveo’s customers, usability, ease of deployment and configuration, and above all, Coveo’s warm, supporting relationship won these deals.

The Coveo Experience
Coveo prides itself on ease of installation and deployment, UI features, browsing as well as search and connectors to a long list of enterprise applications. These factors are all true, but the overriding impression IDC received from Coveo’s customers in interviews that we conducted in late 2007 was that, after Coveo was on their short list, the superb customer service, both before and after the sale, was what won them over. Customers typically discovered Coveo late in their search for a search engine. The company is less well-known than many of its competitors, although it has more than 600 deployments across the major verticals. However, with a full version available free to download for 30 days, prospects who have been overwhelmed with the complexity of the search for search often feel that being able to experiment with a product themselves lets them get a feel for whether it will suit their needs. They can determine whether the product has the features they will need after the sale and implementation have come to an end and they are faced with administering it. Today, the market is further confused by free search engines that offer a limited set of features along with quick installation. In comparison, Coveo customers were surprised not just at the speed of download and deployment but also at the wealth of features that made it easy and quick to connect to all kinds of applications and repositories, extract metadata, configure, and start searching. These features distinguish a favorite tool from merely a respected one.

This abstract was taken from the original IDC white paper "Searching for Search: Can It Be Delightful?" sponsored by Coveo in January, 2008. A complimentary copy of the full IDC white paper, which includes additional case studies, can be downloaded from Coveo here: www.coveo.com/Feldman

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