Company search engine
Information in companies is often like misplaced house keys: you know where they are, but you still can’t find them. The Asga Pension Fund does it better.
Text: Anton Neuenschwander, Images: Michael Meier,
Adrian Bruderer is a System Engineer at Asga. If the pension fund is to provide excellent service to the companies – and there are more than 12,500 of them – affiliated to it, the ICT must run smoothly. For that to be the case, rapid responses are often required. Right now, Adrian Bruderer needs a specific document on Cisco Jabber. “In the past, I would have had to spend ages searching through our file systems and e-mail,” he says – while typing “configure cisco jabber” into Enterprise Search. The search engine promptly produces a list of results. It clearly displays relevant documents from the file server as well as specific e-mails – all including a “photographic” preview to make it easier for him to find the right one quickly.
“Actually, we could chuck all our files in a big pot – we’d find every one of them immediately!”
Adrian Bruderer, System Engineer at Asga
Adrian Bruderer wants to narrow things down more precisely. He clicks on the summary view. Now the search engine presents him with a management summary for every single document. Bullseye! The file with the information he needs is there and can be opened, edited and saved straightaway. “There's no doubt about it: I spend far less time searching than I used to,” Adrian Bruderer comments. Then he laughs and adds: “Actually, we could chuck all our files in a big pot – we’d find every one of them immediately!”
As Head of Central Services at Asga, Beat Zuberbühler plays a major part in increasing efficiency within the company. Searching for documents in vain has always annoyed him. He explains what he thinks about it: “The first difficulty is knowing where you have to look in the first place. The second issue is with the way people work: for example, the staff in our finance department file their data in extremely structured ways, and so they find it quickly. Other people in our firm, though, don’t always file their stuff away logically. This is yet another reflection of the way things are changing: new technology makes possible new ways of working that are mainly taken on board by the younger generation. They’re used to using Google to search for stuff in an intuitive way. Our systems’ limited search capabilities make that impossible.” The amount of time required for the search was correspondingly high. And because people like to ask colleagues for advice, the time taken sometimes doubled automatically.
Beat Zuberbühler explains how Asga’s in-house search engine makes work easier.
Although several providers are putting company-internal search machines on the market, you have to think carefully about to whom you entrust your sensitive data, says Beat Zuberbühler. That’s why, two years ago, he went in search of a Swiss solution. “Enterprise Search – which was developed in Switzerland – seemed to me to be able to meet our requirements. At the time, though, the solution didn’t yet fit with our IT strategy: We source our IT resources from the Swisscom Cloud, and the manufacturer didn’t offer a suitable model at the time.” That has since changed. The Swiss search engine now works in the Swisscom Cloud too. Beat Zuberbühler gave the green light for a Proof of Concept. He was soon convinced of the benefits in practice: “I no longer have to think about where to look for something in our records. Enterprise Search automatically scans multiple sources – the file repositories, the e-mails, the intranet, and even our website. The search results are visible at once.” The search engine achieves this high speed thanks to the systematic indexing of files: Once installed, Enterprise Search automatically indexed 1.1 million documents. Newly created files are also recorded automatically, and Asga’s staff usually find them right away.
“Because the search engine provides intuitive access, there’s no need to ‘learn’ anything.”
Beat Zuberbühler, Head of Central Services at Asga
Asga’s internal search engine helps to the needles in the haystack visible quickly. And if filters are used to narrow down the search, they can even become the size of tree trunks. “We can filter by keyword, data source, file format, relevance, creation or modification date and language,” explains Beat Zuberbühler. Isn’t there the risk of employees seeing on the results list files that out of bounds to them – payrolls or e-mails with private content, for example? Beat Zuberbühler dismisses the possibility: “That’s all under proper control. The solution automatically takes over the access permissions from our Active Directory. That’s why nobody has to sign up for the search engine; it launches automatically after the ‘normal log-in’ when they start work each day.”
Getting to the point quickly: frequently used search terms are shown as tiles.
Nowadays at Asga, if you’re looking for something, you’ll find it faster. Beat Zuberbühler is convinced, though, that technology isn’t everything. “How staff handle it is an important success factor. We can achieve significant time savings only if as many people as possible work with the in-house search engine as often as possible. Because the search engine provides intuitive access, there’s no need to ‘learn’ anything. So, for example, frequently used search terms are represented as tiles.” He’s confident that staff will succeed in changing their thinking, and is already planning the next expansion stages: he wants the search engine to be able to access the CRM system, as well as the electronic archive with its over 14 million documents including archived e-mails, and the Asga-Brain knowledge platform. “Then we really would have a Rolls Royce,” he says with a smile.
Swisscom is the exclusive distribution partner for the company-wide search engine Enterprise Search – in Switzerland, the EU and the USA. Setup and configuration are simple, handled on dedicated hardware or on virtual machines with the support of Swisscom experts. Swisscom now also offers Enterprise Search as a Cloud service.
The Asga is a cooperative with more than 12,500 small and medium-sized enterprises employing a total of 106,000 insured persons affiliated to it. Established in 1962, it has made a name for itself through individual advice, real customer proximity and an investment portfolio with clearly defined risks.
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