A Key Benefit of Moving to the Cloud: Business Process Transformation

Written by on December 27, 2012 in Search Service Benefits - Comments Off

Business process transformation is an umbrella term that describes the act of radically changing the series of actions required to meet a specific business goal; as defined by SearchCIO.com.

For many organizations, business process transformation is the key to delivering competitive and operational advantages. Process transformation can be accelerated in a number of ways; one catalyst for achieving rapid process transformation is by leveraging cloud computing.

Cloud is transformative for businesses. It can make IT more efficient, and the business more agile. And cloud computing is playing a major role in determining what the organizations of tomorrow will look like – this article uses Cloud based Enterprise Search as a real world example.

ACIS Consulting specializes in helping customers transform their Enterprise Search strategies to reduce cost and improve efficiencies. During the past year we have had clients from both the banking industry and government sector that were looking to learn about outsourcing to the cloud; primarily for purposes of reducing costs associated with data center management. Upon learning more about the dramatic simplification of internal processes that could be achieved by a move to the CloudSearchPortal.com platform, these clients expressed even more interest in understanding the details of what processes will change, which ones will be eliminated and what gains can be achieved as a result of such transformation.

We felt that many other organizations would have similar interest in learning about these benefits, and we thought it might be worthwhile to outline the key processes for managing search today and how these change upon a move to the cloud environment.

Search Service Process Management Today

When considering search service management processes, it is instructive to look at it from the vantage point of the search service manager who has to juggle a large number of process activities when implementing a search project, including:

  • Requesting and managing the deployment of data center resources and services supplied by internal IT departments;
  • Ensuring that the IT department is procuring enough capacity to support the projected expansion for the foreseeable future (typically 3 to 5 years);
  • Ensuring proper backup and disaster recovery plans and procedures are in place;
  • Procuring the search software license and managing its deployment in data center facilities;
  • Managing integration of the search product into a content processing environment to access all data repositories that are to be searched;
  • Defining search user interface requirements for each department and managing through stages of development, integration and deployment;
  • Establishing and managing developer and search administrator departments to provide operational and search technology support to internal customers;
  • And periodically repeating the above outlined development cycle every time there is an upgrade to the search software.

Because this business process is focused on complex technology management, it often suffers a critical shortfall. The search service manager is unable to pay adequate attention to the specific needs of each product department and their specific business metrics, and is also unable to spend adequate time monitoring user satisfaction with the search service. This inevitably leads to more complaints about the search service, less investment from product owners that again leads to even less attention to service quality. But the cloud changes everything….

Search Service Process Management in a Cloud Environment

Our clients notice dramatic changes when they are able to shift the primary focus from search technology management to monitoring customer satisfaction.

When managing the search service process in a cloud environment, the customer search service manager’s primary focus shifts to search business management activities that include:

  • Specification of a complete package of Enterprise Search as a Service (ESaaS) technology service needs that will meet presently identified query processing requirements;
  • Putting a “buy as you grow” expansion plan in place with a predictable budget that is driven by increased customer demand;
  • Monitoring operational performance reports to ensure the search service is meeting the business metrics of the company;
  • Direct interaction with product marketing and sales teams to understand details of business requirements and strategize how search could be optimized to meet these business metrics;
  • Monitoring customer satisfaction metrics to ensure search performance is continually optimized and information gaps are continually addressed;
  • And directing more focus to future enhancements and search features that can be added to continuously engage customers and meet their changing search service needs.

We live in a time that is one of the most interesting in the history of the computing industry. There is no doubt the IT industry is undergoing massive change and businesses are starting to recognize the need to transform organizational roles and operational processes to improve efficiency. Moving search to the cloud might be a safe and relatively easy first step for learning and evaluating the transformative benefits this technology.

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