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Case Study: How Advanced Site Search Creates a Personalized Website

June 27, 2013 No Comments

Featured article by Stephen Smith, CFO, TSIA

As the leading professional association of the technology services industry, my organization, the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) has thousands of members, including services executives, managers and professionals from around the globe. Our members represent the world’s leading enter­prise and consumer technology companies, as well as scores of innovative small and midsize businesses across nine vertical industries.

One of the things these members value is access to leading-edge research on our website.  We generate hundreds of new pieces of con­tent each year through the research team, conferences and webinars.  For our members, having the ability to quickly search our website and find the most relevant content is critical. However, we were having significant challeng­es with our search capabilities and results.

Previously using Google Enterprise Search, we found it wasn’t optimized in a way that helped mem­bers find the information they needed.  We didn’t have the ability to search by filters such as author, date or document type to make the search truly relevant, so Google brought back lots of irrelevant content.   And while some people knew how to use advanced functions in Google to narrow down their search, it wasn’t taking advantage of all the information in our content management system (CMS).

This created a number of issues. For example, when members didn’t find the right content, they didn’t return to the website as often and that had an impact on overall customer satisfaction.  It’s hard to draw a direct line between not finding con­tent and satisfaction, but we knew from talking to departing members that search was a direct contributor to their decision not to renew.  When members can’t find the content they need quickly, it’s less likely they’ll stay engaged.

Our internal staff at TSIA experienced challenges as well. Due to the poor search ca­pabilities on the website, the research team’s ability to quickly answer member inquiries was constrained. This was an enormous problem for us. Even our CEO and head of research had difficulties finding the content they needed. They knew it existed, and in some cases even knew the name of the document they were searching for. But they couldn’t find it, or it wouldn’t come up correctly – buried in 100 pages of results.

Finally, TSIA’s CEO tasked me with finding a way to dramatically improve our website search. To begin, we evaluated a number of vendor solutions and ultimately chose longtime partner Coveo, based on the superior functionality and cost of its solution, Coveo for Advanced Website Search.  A lot of companies offered solutions for either knowledge management or case man­agement, but our primary focus was on improv­ing search.

Another deciding factor for choosing Coveo was its faceted search and navigation. Once a user has selected one facet, they can further narrow their search by continuing to include and exclude additional facets as well as sort results by relevancy, date and view count. I personally use these facets all the time and know all of our employees do as well.

With Coveo, it is now easy for members and internal teams to instantly find the content they’re looking for. When they type a search term into the new search box on TSIA’s website, they can now get a list of key documents and web pages, sort by relevance or by date, and apply a series of filters to make their search more relevant.

In the last six months, we have put extensive effort into improving our search capabilities and member engagement at TSIA. Implementing Coveo was a key part of that strategy.  I knew Coveo was an investment we needed to make.  Members subscribe to our business in order to access our research, benchmarks and insights. Their ability to find what they need is essential, and directly correlates to their sat­isfaction and our bottom line. If I could save just two membership renewals a year, it would more than cover the cost of implementing Coveo.

In addition to a rise in membership renewals and increased customer satisfaction, we’ve estimated that for the past three months compared to the same period a year ago, login activity on the our website has increased 63 percent and downloads have nearly doubled (92 percent increase). Coveo has made an impact internally as well.  Our CEO and research teams are thrilled. They feel like they can finally access data when they need it.  Ultimately, since deploying Coveo, we have radically im­proved search results, and we’re able to get the right information to the right person at the right time, both for our members and internal teams.

Stephen Smith is the CFO and senior vice president of operations for the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), and is currently responsible for finance, IT, HR and legal.  Previously, Smith served as the executive director of the Service & Support Professionals Association (SSPA).

Smith has championed innovation and change throughout his 20-plus-year career in technology services and consulting.  Prior to joining TSIA, he was an executive at IBM working in their Global Business Services (GBS) organization.  Before that, he held various strategy and technology consulting roles at Mainspring, Mercer Management Consulting and Ernst & Young.  He was also the co-founder and COO of Encadia, which was sold to Mainspring in 2000.

Smith has an MBA from Wharton.

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