Solving an Intractable Problem: The Case For Enterprise Q&A

Joel ConfinoNews2 Comments

Recently Forbes published a thought-provoking article by Ben Kepes titled, “The State Of Document Management And Some Potentially Heretical Thinking“.  He reviews a report from Docurated about the state of document management.  Some of the key findings of a survey of 116 IT leaders are:

  • Document management is a key pain point and priority, nearly two thirds of IT Executives are investing in Document Management initiatives
  • The inability to find content and poor mobility are cited as the biggest challenges IT Leaders face
  • Despite efforts to consolidate the number of storage repositories, companies are actually increasing the number of silos they manage
    Source: The State of Document Management Report

Kepes’ conclusion is that the current solutions are not working, which most people can relate to.  It is easy to add information but hard to find it.  Everyone has had the experience of unsuccessfully looking through old emails, a wiki, or files on a network drive looking for that critical answer you need right now.  He states:

“Perhaps it is unrealistic to expect success of the approach advocated by the file sharing vendors: that of resolving to a single repository on top of which collaboration occurs. Perhaps the best solution is indeed a document management fabric that sits on top of distributed file storage and that lets silos exist which abstracting discovery and access onto a higher level service. That’s the approach that vendors like Panzura and Nasuni advocate and, while I have been critical of their approach in the past, perhaps its the most pragmatic solution to an apparently intractable problem.”

As the CEO of an enterprise Q&A company I clearly have an opinion on this topic: the best solution to the intractable problem of “Where in this giant enterprise is my file?” turns out to be enterprise Q&A. That is one of the whole reasons that we founded Haydle about 18 months ago, and we’ve seen it work at our customers.

I am a technologist, but solving this problem purely with technology has failed in tens/hundreds of solutions over the past decade. Finding documents is, at its core, a communication/collaboration problem not a search problem. Someone at your company knows where the file/discussion board/help desk ticket/wiki page entry/FAQ/email/random blob of text you need is located. They know that because they put it there or they are a subject matter expert. You need to ask that person not some enterprise search engine that isn’t even connected to half the sources of information, can’t deal with typos/misspelling/poorly worded queries, and can’t possibly know which of the 3 different versions of the same or similar document is the correct, most current one. But people can.

Haydle, and enterprise Q&A in general, allows you to better ask and answer questions and connect with people all across your organization that you may not even know, and that turns out to be the key to whole bunch of things but one of those things is finding information that you are looking for. It is crowdsourcing. It is the concierge model of search — people ask, answer, and rate the quality of answers, and that results in much higher quality answers, and ultimately that is what makes it a superior solution that people use. Our customers use SharePoint and many other systems to store stuff but they use Haydle to find stuff.  And it works.