Michael Cizmar is the founder and Managing Director of MC+A, an enterprise search consulting firm and Coveo partner for the last decade. Michael has 20 years of experience in business consulting, specializing in helping companies see more ROI through software design and development.
Michael founded MC+A to help companies solve business challenges by empowering organizations with the maximum value from their business intelligence. Michael walked us through how his firm has experienced the impact of Coveo with customers, and his opinion on this year’s theme: the Relevance Revolution.
Q: Why IMPACT? Why did your team decide to partner with Coveo on this event?
Michael: We are excited about the opportunity to join the larger Coveo community of partners, customers and staff to discuss the platform. We want to know more about how Coveo customers are using the technology. In my experience, customers tend to take a technology, run with it and develop use cases that are more innovative than the business consultants and vendors imagine.
We’re also excited that a community like this is getting together. Very often, the solutions that we’re deploying with Coveo are a small piece of a larger solution. The great thing about a conference like this is you get the chance to talk about the strategies that have worked and not worked to the community. I’ve been doing this for over 20 years and I’m sure I will learn a thing or two from this conference.
We have an expression, “When systems talk, people do too.” Deploying a solution like Coveo takes effort to orchestrate all of the different systems, and their respective departments. Getting Sharepoint, Salesforce, legal teams and marketing teams aligned requires a plan. A routine strategy that MC+A has used to get this process out the door may be a game-changer for a different firm, and vice versa. This is why it’s beneficial to get the community together. What comes up as fairly routine for your professional services organization can be phenomenal for someone else, or more often, what you tend to find out is that you are thinking of the wrong problem entirely and already have the solution.
Q: What is the impact that you have seen Coveo have with your clients? How do you define the impact of Coveo?
Michael: We have worked alongside Coveo and our customers for 10 years. The changes that Coveo has made in the last 24 months or so have, relative to the time in the market, been very impactful. Going from an on-premise model focused on Sharepoint to a machine learning and relevancy tool – this is no easy task. The places where Coveo is strongest has also contributed the most to the measurement of ROI and the needs of our customers.
In the beginning, enterprise search was all about information retrieval. The technologies of 10 years ago were matching keywords and finding keywords inside of documents. It grew to include language abilities, accounting for spelling and synonyms. What we have seen now is that index is now a commodity and it’s expected that if I type in the exact word, I get the documents. That’s not as useful anymore. Machine learning, pattern analysis, click stream analysis – this is a tremendous capability and of extreme value to organizations. Customers today have different needs. They want answer engines, insight engines. You know what I’m asking for, just give it to me. When I search “what’s my exposure to oil,” I want an answer and personalized to me. I don’t want documents that have “’what’s’ and ‘my’ and ‘exposure’ and ‘oil’” in them as keywords.
Q: The theme this year is “Relevance Revolution.” How do you view this revolution and the impact of relevance for your clients?
Michael: My take on the theme is different. The Relevance Revolution is using machine learning, AI and cognitive techniques. This is the wave of the future. The traditional and old way is “we need to understand and tokenize; figure out how to map our fields; and figure out the structure of data.” We don’t care about that anymore. Relevance is being defined by the end-user and their patterns.
This is why we focus on an iterative approach for enterprise search at MC+A. Deploying enterprise search is different than deploying an ERP system. We combine agile methodologies with a customer focus, an end-user focus really, because the end-user defines relevance. It’s not a data owner focus. We have a lot of cases where people know their data and try to represent it in some way. They come in and have completely different expectations. We try to understand intent and their direct outcomes. When we understand what people are trying to achieve, we can direct them to the workflow that fits with Coveo and their approach.
We just finished up IMPACT 2017 from June 19 to 21 in San Francisco – but we’re already getting ready for 2018! Stay tuned. Find out more on the IMPACT website.