Aug 15 2010

Time to sort out search in law firms

Jason

This week a couple of things cropped up to remind me of my predictions for the top 5 technologies for Legal in 2010. In particular that I had search at #4 and my thoughts on why I think next year this will be moving up the charts.

First off is my first recent experience on Autonomy iManage WorkSite 8.5 working with IDOL and using search to retrieve email out of a 30m+ document library. As I tweeted at the time it made me want to take my email out of Outlook and put it in WorkSite! The search experience was so much better than Outlook 2003 Advanced Search (although recently I’ve used Outlook 2010 and the search in that is itself so much better than 2003!).

Then on Friday night, the second thing that got me thinking about search was when my son (aged eight) found a Flipnote on his Nintendo DSi and wanted to know what the music was. I had no idea, but what happened next was an eye opener on the new generation.

I consider myself pretty tech-savvy but in this instance I was well beaten by the eight year old. First off he’d asked if he could use Shazaam, but he couldn’t wait for me to get my mobile and so he had gone to his PC, fired up Google, found the track by searching for keywords and lyrics and then found last.fm and a copy of the track. No guidance, no help from his parents, in fact I was so impressed I went and bought him the track off Amazon (which in hindsight wasn’t that clever, as it is now on a continuous playlist of one!).

The thought hit me though, that if my son was to go into law (not on his list of potential employment at all at the moment, currently being a Chef is #1) then he just won’t accept the reams of paper file or the clunky e-filing systems that require either browsing or complex search forms. No search is something he takes for granted. It’s not technology to him it’s just something, like reading and writing, that he just does.

We in Legal IT have about 10 years before these kids start arriving in law firms, think we’ll have enterprise search working by then? And for the lawyers get yourselves comfortable with search technology, as these kids won’t accept the “I don’t understand computers” argument. They’ll just look at you like you’ve just announced “I can’t read”!

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Jul 9 2010

Using WorkSite 8.5 with IDOL? This is for you!

Jason

If you’re an Autonomy iManage customer and you have access to the WorkSite Support portal, then there is some new content on there that will be of interest. Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be a direct link to it from the portal home and I’m not sure I should link from here direct to the resource due to it’s customer only nature, but have a word with your Autonomy contact for a link (also if Autonomy are reading this and don’t mind pointing out the location please feel free to add it into the comments).

The new content is a number of video webinars on the IDOL worksite indexer deployment that are worth a look if you’re on or about to go to version 8.5. There is about 60+ minutes worth of flash video taking you through such topics as:

  • Indexer Deployment
  • WorkSite Indexer Components & Key Settings
  • Initial Crawl vs. Maintenance Crawl
  • How Indexing and Searching Works with Active Content
  • Plus a number of other related topics

I think it’s a great way to spread the knowledge of this new indexer and as IDOL becomes a key part of WorkSite it is a much better than the traditional training methods Interwoven (and other vendors) have previously implemented for new products.

I’ve not had time yet to watch all the videos but colleagues have and have said they’re excellent. Once I’ve had chance to watch them I’ll post what I think in the comments.

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Mar 8 2010

Explaining IDOL

Jason

On Friday I got a simple explanation of how IDOL fits together with other applications (like WorkSite and Zantaz). I was so simple and obvious that after a few days mulling it over I can’t believe I’d got confused. But for those new to world of IDOL I hope this little video of the explanation I got may be a light bulb moment for you too!

Also it may be worth mentioning that this video was put together in about 10 minutes! Take a look at the site http://www.xtranormal.com/ it’s a great tool for quickly putting together an animated video to explain things.

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Jun 16 2009

Enhancing WorkSite searching (please can Miner “slicing” be added to FileSite!)

Jason

WorkSite 8.3 Express Search/WorkSite Miner.

This tool has been out a while, but unless you jumped to WorkSite 8.3 with the Velocity search engine or are lucky enough to be one of the WorkSite 8.4 with IDOL implementations you probably haven’t used it.

WorkSite-Express

We’ve just completed an 8.4 upgrade and so we’ve had chance to use this tool. It basically works like a desktop search. It sits in your system tray until required and can be activated with a simple key press (default is Ctrl+Ctrl). Then simply type in a term and hit return. The term will then be searched across your default library (this can be altered using the drop down).

You can use usual boolean operators (AND, OR) and also you can use key fields to be more specific e.g. in this example above To: to denote where an email is to me (you can also search doc numbers, document or workspace names etc). Right click on the documents returned and you get the usual WorkSite DMS menu options.

Apart from a quick way to launch your documents I see the real power of this application being for finding emails. Something that is difficult in the standard FileSite or DeskSite applications given the volumes of email in a typical document management system (DMS) library.

As mentioned you can search quickly using the Express Search and its key fields for email (To: etc), plus adding say a word or two you expect to be in the body. If the number of emails is large you can click the “Show All Results” and launch the WorkSite Miner application.

WorkSite-Miner

Again this is a simple application that basically searches, but on the fly you can “slice” up the results in a very easy way. Either by ordering using the columns, dragging the columns into groupings, adding further search terms etc. Nothing earth shatteringly new, but very effective.

This gives a much more flexible way to order your results to try and identify the item you are looking for. This is particularly useful for emails, especially now that on a typical legal case you could see thousands of emails.

Also from within the Miner application you can preview the documents and emails (like Quickview in FileSite) and right click on them to get the standard WorkSite DMS actions.

I really hope that the Miner capabilities of “slicing” up your results are integrated into FileSite in the future. But in the meantime this really simple product that takes advantage of the newer search engines in WorkSite 8.3 and 8.4 (and 8.5!) will be a great addition to WorkSite on the desktop.

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Jun 1 2009

Autonomy iManage’s first 100 days

Jason

OK, I’m shooting the gun a little bit. It has only been 66 days since Autonomy’s takeover of Interwoven officially completed, but since it was announced back in January and 100 days has more of a ring to it I thought I’d round it up to the nearest hundred.

So what to make of the first 100 days of Autonomy iManage?

Let’s start with the Autonomy side of things. I can sum up my initial impressions with one simple statement “they are one hell of a marketing machine”. If they were on “The Apprentice” they’d walk it, Sir Alan loves a seller.

If you look behind the marketing sheen you see the one product seems to underpin everything, the IDOL search engine. Before I had any dealings with Autonomy I had heard about IDOL and that it was a very good product, but you really needed to work with it to get it to do what you wanted.

As most Interwoven customers will know the IDOL engine was “rapidly” introduced into WorkSite, IUS and TeamSite. I use quotes as this is technically true, but having seen it in WorkSite it isn’t a simple fit for the customer. The reason for this is because IDOL is very much a product in it’s own right. WorkSite and IDOL are “loosely coupled”. The IDOL engine itself has multiple components and configuration requirements (the licence key itself is complex, tied to a mac address!). This is far from the original verity indexer that was pretty straight forward (and Vivisimo Velocity engine that was very briefly available).

Don’t get me wrong, the product works, but what was once a DMS (Document Management System) with a simple indexer component is now very much a DMS and full blown search engine to manage.

This is not unique to Interwoven’s products. Although I can’t comment myself on the Zantaz 6.1 release with IDOL, I found a comment on it elsewhere that has similar sentiments for this product:

I have it in my demo environment and running for one customer already. It kicks AltaVista’s butt – but it is a bitch to get up and running.

And where as the technical team were out of the blocks like Usain Bolt, the training teams seem to have made a 100m start like, well like me! And because of this it is where I see some short term difficulties. The initial training sessions have been web based and frankly weak and there are only just starting to be UK classroom courses being scheduled (these are specific IDOL courses too, where are the integrated WorkSite/IDOL courses?).

And IDOL will need training, in fact I think that there will be a need for an “IDOL DBA” type function in most law firms (after all WorkSite, IUS and Zantaz are all IDOL powered now).

I forget what the general release target for 8.5 was, but I am sure it was summer ‘09. If that is still the case, then there are going to be a lot of UK customers in a bottle neck waiting to get IDOL trained. If I’m being harsh I would say the promise made at the last user group that the UK team would be ready to support the 8.5 IDOL release sounds a little hollow.

And what about support? Well two things stick out. First there seems to be some re-organisation or upheaval going on, whether it’s support being aligned in Cambridge or something else I don’t know. Nothing has been confirmed and I haven’t heard anything from Autonomy iManage, this is just a feeling I get. The second thing is there still needs to be a lot of knowledge transfer, it seems that old Interwoven people don’t understand IDOL fully yet and Autonomy people don’t understand the WorkSite product.

However these are early days and it shouldn’t detract from the fact the IDOL is a very good product! And most importantly it works with large volumes of data, which is good news for the biglaw firms and for the goals of WorkSite 9.0 (which one of the objectives I seem to remember was 50m+ document libraries).

It’s far from negative. It’s just that I feel a little like I did listening to Tony Blair at the moment, the Autonomy marketing machine is in full swing, but behind the marketing sheen things aren’t quite what they seem, yet.

But as I’ve said IDOL works and it seems very scalable. And from what I’ve seen so far of Autonomy engineers, they are a very capable technical team and if they can marry this with the iManage team in Chicago then we could have product that will continue to improve rapidly. Once the training and support teams catch up then legal has a great suite of products to utilise underpinned by one enterprise search engine.

Unfortunately I just see a H2 2009 that may frustrate customers keen to exploit some of the great features in 8.5. So the next 100 days will be the real test, can they get WorkSite 8.5 and IDOL IUS in the field with the training and support available? I could be wrong, the Autonomy iManage team could just have all their focus (technical, support and training) on getting everything set for 8.5 IDOL launch. We’ll see!

What are your thoughts so far?

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Mar 12 2009

Interwoven WorkSite 8.4?!?

Jason

Well I find out today that Interwoven will be releasing a v8.4!

It’s all part of the takeover by Autonomy and I know that until the merger goes through it’s difficult for them to disseminate information to customers on something that isn’t confirmed. But customers are still moving forward with projects and if you’re in the process of moving to v8.3 for the Vivisimo search, then you may want to take notes of these upcoming releases!

For those mid-project, here’s the order as a guide:

  • v8.5 is imminent (with Vivisimo Velocity) on a limited release (Limited release is fully tested production code but only released to clients who ask for it so they can be given preferential support)
  • v8.4 (with Autonomy’s IDOL engine) would follow this at some point. A server side upgrade retaining the v8.2 client – expect it to initially be a limited release while knowledge of IDOL grows within Interwoven.
  • v8.5 would then be released with Autonomy’s IDOL engine as a limited release
  • IUS (IDOL) limited release on a similar timetable to 8.5 IDOL
  • General availability of all above would follow later in year
  • Along with additional v8.5 modules such as SharePoint integration, WorkSite Web, IRM, language packs etc
  • After all this there comes the Fileshare release (I’m looking forward to this one! From what I understand you can make your workspaces available through a windows file share!)

In terms of architecture, the feedback is that the IDOL engine requires a similar capability as Vivisimo Velocity, so in their words “we can ‘simply switch’ from one index to the other”.

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