Canadian enterprise search market offers channel opportunities

Of the entire enterprise-sized business market in Canada, which are those businesses with a minimum of 250 PCs, only 45 per cent are currently using some form of search functionality within their organization, says an analyst at Toronto-based market-research firm, Strategic Counsel.

During a recent Microsoft-hosted roundtable discussion in Toronto, Wanda Yu, senior SharePoint product manager at Microsoft Canada (NASDAQ: MSFT), said every organization, no matter its size, should have some sort of search strategy and policy in place.

“Digital information and data is growing at an incredible rate,” Yu said. “Data is growing at a 40 per cent year over year growth rate, as reported by IDC. Every organization and employee can work with a search solution to manage the volume of data that’s growing.”

Warren Shiau, a senior analyst at Strategic Counsel, said that although 45 per cent of Canada’s enterprise-sized businesses use search, only 35 per cent of them extend full search capabilities and access to their employees, thus representing plenty of opportunity for partners working in, or hoping to get into, the search space.

Shiau said the average office worker spends about a third of their day tending to documents. A lot of the worker’s time is wasted because search mechanisms have to be managed individually whenever something has to be found, he said.

“From an organizational sense, businesses should be asking simple questions like: What kind of search data do you have, is it reporting and analysis?, Where’s that data located and how easy and accessible is it for the end-user to find?”

Businesses should look at implementing an enterprise search solution to help minimize the time it takes when looking for information across the organization, he advises.

Microsoft, which acquired Fast Search & Transfer, a Norway-based enterprise search vendor, earlier this year, has since been able to incorporate its technologies into its present search solutions. In its current search solution portfolio, Microsoft has its Search Server 2008 and Search Server 2008 Express solutions, in addition to its Office SharePoint Server and Fast ESP solution.

According to Andy Papadopoulos, president of Toronto-based Legend Corp., a Microsoft Gold Certified partner, search solutions have become much more prevalent in the marketplace today, compared to two years ago.

“People expect transparency when they search and they just want to see their results,” he said. “Search should be the plumbing for all of the backend systems that lets (end-users) search and access everything in (their) environments. Search is about finding, using, collaborating and sharing that info across the organization.”

For channel partners, Papadopoulos says it’s important to ensure that searches stay relevant to the organization and employees that are using it. Depending on one’s job role and the type of business the organization is in, he says enterprises can set guidelines to help guide the way people search for and find things.

“Relevancy is important so that when you search for things, there’s already some pre-determined info that will automatically come up,” he said. “Enterprises can set guidelines to make things relevant because they’re anticipating how they want people to look and search for things.”

Ensuring search guidelines remain relevant within an enterprise search solution will yield significant time-savings for businesses, Papadopoulos said, which ultimately means that employee time that otherwise may have been used for searching, can now be deployed elsewhere and more effectively.

“Enterprise search solutions are not install and forget products,” Papadopoulos said. “They’re ones that have to be maintained.”

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Maxine Cheung
Maxine Cheung
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