Business Analytics-Why Search is Not Enough
Due to the popularity of internet searches, many businesses have attempted to adapt the search paradigm to tame their own unruly document clutter. Knowledge workers can be much more effective in performing their jobs, they believe, if all the pertinent information for accomplishing the job is at their fingertips.
Searching on the internet, however, doesn’t necessarily yield the desired information; rather, it provides links to documents that might contain the desired information. Internet search deals with documents which are relatively homogeneous, in the sense that they are all uniquely addressable web pages. Furthermore, the search relies on document tags (keywords), so the relevance of a query’s results depends on how appropriately the tags characterize the document’s contents.
Basic search has evolved and become more sophisticated, particularly in the areas of interpreting search requests, indexing documents, and presenting results as interesting visualizations. The question, however, still remains: are these developments enough to make the knowledge workers more effective at their jobs? Search can certainly save time in getting to the relevant documents, provided the right search query is posed. The question of knowledge worker effectiveness becomes lot more significant when search enters the realm of business analytics.
The Search Process
The search process begins with a user articulating a search request, and ends with the user receiving results delivered by the search mechanism. An auxiliary process continuously digests new documents, making them available for searching.
User Articulation of Search Request
“Has anybody worked with Smith & Company? I would like to know their experience with them” or “what’s the latest return policy for electronic products?” are typical examples of information that a knowledge worker might be seeking in the context of their job. In order for users to express their requests in a natural way, the search system must be able to understand the user’s intent, and then translate that intent into a formal query that can be executed by the underlying search engine. While we are far from achieving this goal, techniques such as auto-suggestion and use of natural language processing technologies have made it easier for users to express their requests.
Presentation of Search Results
Have you ever been frustrated with a search when you’re unable to get the results you’re looking for, despite repeated attempts? After trying one request after another and scanning through many documents, you still feel lost. Perhaps what you’re looking for may not even be there at all, but you have no way of knowing for sure. Other times, you get lucky and find what you want instantly.
Does a smarter presentation of search results improve user search experience? The simplest approach is to present search results in order of their relevance, while advanced techniques involve the inclusion of snippets from documents and other semantic content that may help users avoid a full scan of documents. In some cases, presentation may include data visualizations.
Digesting Documents for Search
A document is as good as lost if it isn’t classified properly. Business documents can be quite large, so for business users, it is not just a matter of getting to the correct document; they want to get to the specific part of the document that contains the relevant information. This means that for a document to be amenable to intelligent search, its contents must also be indexed properly. Alternatively, the parts of a document may be marked up during the digestion phase, and then extracted during the execution of the search query. Full-text search and other text processing techniques have made it possible to reach to the depths of any document.
The Lure of ‘Search’
Part of the attractiveness of ‘search’ is its simple appearance at the user interaction level, and the ease of use for the end user. In contrast, finding information from documents and data through other mechanisms such as BI (business intelligence) appear much more laborious. Thus, it is very tempting to try to extend the search paradigm to the domain of BI and Business Analytics. Considering the skills and time needed to produce a new BI report, search appears to have the advantage. So-called ‘self-service’ BI attempts to eliminate the time lag between when information is needed and when it is delivered, and analytical search plays a pivotal role in the realization of this goal. In traditional BI, there are two roles involved: a BI expert, and the end user, who receives the information gleaned by BI. While search-based self-service relieves some of the pressure on the BI expert, it shifts that responsibility to the end user. In order to be effective, the end users of BI information must have at least a partial understanding of the BI process.
Why Search is Not Enough?
Search is not a panacea for discovering insights from data. It is not a substitute for business analytics, by any stretch of the imagination. Business analytics is all about supporting data-driven decision making; this includes not only searching data for what it explicitly represents (descriptive analytics), but also what it implicitly encodes: knowledge that can be used to predict the future (predictive analytics) and also suggest preventive or coping measures to deal with the predicted future (prescriptive analytics). Furthermore, to assist users in making effective and timely decisions, a business analytics system must reduce the cognitive dissonance between the decision-makers and the business analytics system (cognitive analytics).
When it is well integrated in a decision-making process, search can be very useful–but this integration is not a straightforward plug-and-play activity. A deeper integration of search within the decision-making process is a complex endeavor, and has a profound impact on all aspects of the search process itself.
About the author:
Dr. Rana is founding CTO at diwo. With more than 35 years of experience as serial entrepreneur and executive leadership, he was also the CTO of CommerceOne, and a core team member for developing strategy and launching distributed systems management initiatives at IBM.
Amalgam Insights names diwo as a market leader in Decision Intelligence
Data. You can never have too much of it — or can you? The data your business gathers means nothing without context and framing; insights... + 2021-07-13
CRN Names Enterprise AI Company diwo a Top 10 AI Startup of 2021
We are proud to announce that CRN has named diwo to its “10 Hottest AI Startups of 2021” list, the only bootstrapped startup to make... + 2021-06-22
AI Leaders Spotlight: The Power of Decision Intelligence in Retail Merchandising
Welcome to our AI Leaders Spotlight where we interview top business leaders on how AI can transform decision-making in key industries. The second interview in... + 2021-06-18
7 Questions For diwo´s Founder
We sat down with diwo CEO Krishna Kallakuri to learn about his vision and guiding inspiration for launching diwo. A serial entrepreneur, Krishna started his... + 2021-06-08
Why AI Models Eat BI Dashboards for Lunch
Many organizations devote precious time and resources developing predictive AI/ML models to determine what might happen in the future. The ultimate goal of these models... + 2021-03-26
Why More BI Dashboards Don’t Mean Better Decisions
A typical analytics dashboard, whether it’s viewed as a pivot table in Excel or within a business intelligence (BI) platform, is often the primary source... + 2021-03-17
How banks can leverage AI to better manage pandemic relief programs
The recent massive economic shifts due to COVID-19 have driven up risk for the vast majority of financial services institutions. Customer sentiment, spending and behavior... + 2020-07-28
Financial Services: Preparing for the Looming Credit Crisis
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly affected financial institutions – slowing the growth of loan originations, increasing credit costs, contracting economic activity, and causing record levels... + 2020-05-15
Can retailers find strategies that balance short-term recovery with long-term sustainability to lead them out of the COVID-19 crisis?
Retail and fashion business leaders are currently focusing on business continuity (“keep the lights on”) and crisis management (“sell the right stuff”), but soon they... + 2020-05-05
Transforming Business Decisioning in the Pandemic era is more crucial than ever.
Our human tendency toward incremental thinking limited us from foreseeing how “a few cases of the flu” would balloon into the impact we see today.... + 2020-05-01
Surviving COVID-19: How can Retailers free up working capital tied-up in inventory?
Among the many sectors affected by COVID-19, retail will be one of the hardest hit. The sudden decline is attributed to country-wide store shut-downs and... + 2020-04-23
Don’t let your shiny AI models lose their luster!
Businesses have made significant investments in building AI/ML models in recent times. While models are increasingly driving significant operational efficiencies and differentiation for businesses, they... + 2020-04-22
AI Modeling in the time of Covid-19
Companies of all sizes are facing unprecedented uncertainty and challenges due to the global impacts of COVID-19. It has created a major systemic shock to... + 2020-04-14
How to derive value from your AI investments with Decision Intelligence
Ultimately, a company’s value is measured by the sum of its decisions. In order to succeed, the organization must make and execute decisions—across all levels... + 2020-01-24
Why isn’t my enterprise getting value from AI at scale?
Why do most AI initiatives for business fizzle out? Why do so many teams’ best efforts to develop or deploy new algorithms or predictive models... + 2019-11-21
Here’s why you’re probably losing the AI race
As the AI arms race is becoming more heated, more organizations are looking to beef up their competitive advantage... + 2019-08-01
Data In Wisdom Out
I am often asked by the curious, what do we actually mean by “wisdom out”. Is it just a marketing ploy or is there something more to it?... + 2018-10-31
Is Data a source of value?
We have always been exposed to natural and man-made events and have wondered and been impacted by their outcomes... + 2018-10-16
The Future of Decision Making: Human-AI Symbiosis
When we have to make an important decision, we face numerous challenges: uncertainty, complex data that’s difficult to interpret, competing priorities... + 2018-09-20
Digital Transformation- a $900B failure this year alone
Digital transformation has become a major priority for most organizations in some form or another, but for many, it’s proving to be quite the challenge... + 2018-09-20
So What’s AI’s Dirty Little Secret?
One could read the massively hyped claims of the trillions in productivity gains and then how far AI still has to go for real-world application... + 2018-09-20
How AI can rescue your BI “situation”
Even with a few credible upstarts in the past couple years, Self-Service BI still seems to be dominated by some large players that also require some very large and "very ongoing" commitments... + 2018-03-20
Business First! – how diwo aspires to flatten the knowledge pyramid
We can all agree on the fact that we are sitting on an unprecedented volume of data, and it is continuing to accumulate exponentially... + 2017-09-18
The Growing Market Impact Of AI
The future is always uncharted territory, and in the hype that currently sorrounds AI, with its ambiguous... + 2017-09-18
AI: How It Will Redefine My Job?
In the past few years, there has been an explosion in innovation and interest around Artificial Intelligence... + 2017-09-18
Wait Less, Sense More, Act Fast!
“If I had more legs, I could walk faster. If I had more hands, I could handle more, and if I had extra senses, I could respond wiser” – did you ever wish that?... + 2017-09-11
Unlocking the holy grail of UX design: bias-free user feedback in real time!
The potential of measuring emotional feedback from users is an exciting proposition in many fields, not least because it offers the possibility of unlocking... + 2017-07-25
What’s the Deal With AI Connectors
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is changing our lives, and these days feels more omnipresent than ever before. From Siri to autonomous cars... + 2017-07-25
Business Analytics-Why Search is Not Enough
Due to the popularity of internet searches, many businesses have attempted to adapt the search paradigm to tame their own unruly document clutter... + 2016-09-15
Drowning in data? Still no excuse for inaction!
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we had a total understanding of the laws governing the reality around us? Imagine for a... + 2016-09-15