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July 23, 2008

Table of Contents

Pulling Out All the Stops at Midas (Case Study)
What's the Future of Federated Search? You tell us! Writing Contest
SirsiDynix Enterprise Announced
Fios Expands e-Discovery Services
Mining customer feedback
CRM search done right
Your Search System Could Keep You Out of Jail

Pulling Out All the Stops at Midas (Case Study)

Organization:  Midas,Inc.,
Vendor or Solution Proider of Choice:  ISYS Search Software,

The Midas Nation

Midas is one of the world’s largest providers of automotive services, offering brake, exhaust, maintenance, tire, steering, and suspension services at nearly 2,600 franchised, licensed, and company-owned Midas shops in 19 countries—including nearly 1,800 in the U.S. and Canada. At any given time, employees, dealers, and partners need to access a wide range of company information—from warranty data, customer feedback, and sales reports to promotions and shop policies.

Keeping Communication Effective

Like most companies adjusting to the advances of digital technology, Midas’ communication system has adapted over the years. It has evolved from snail mail to fax-based and email-based systems. Finally in 2005, Midas recognized the need for a collaborative, web-based communication tool. It was then that the Midas team launched the Midas Portal, an online communication platform accessible by all Midas constituents via a web interface.

The Midas Portal was built with the intent of uniting Midas corporate headquarters with all franchisees through an online community rich with valuable business information, such as Midas news, promotion updates, sales figures, and customer feedback. The portal, which took the form of an extranet, was made accessible to Midas franchise owners, franchise employees, Midas corporate employees, and Midas’ supply-chain business partners (NAPA, CARQUEST, and Firestone). "The portal has about 7,300 users," says Dave Sommer, senior project manager of web development at Midas, Inc. "It’s our primary source of communication between all of our groups, and we have members logging on several times daily."

Creating access to Midas information sources through the extranet was one thing, but ensuring that users could log on and find exactly what they were looking for every time required another component. Realizing its portal members needed a way to search and navigate through the massive collections of company information, newsletters, promotion updates, and other information located on the portal, Midas began the quest to implement an enter­prise search tool.

Finding the Perfect Search Solution

Before evaluating any search solutions, Midas first defined a set of criteria needed in a search engine. It required that the search toolbe able to index a specific set of file types, to work with proper per­missions on a private website, to work in a web farm scenario, and to fit within an appropriate budget. 

The Midas team looked closely at two large search vendors, as well as a few specialists and mid-size vendors. "What really surprised us is that the two large vendors, with brand recognition extending beyond the search industry, couldn’t deliver," says Sommer.  "One was way too expensive, and the other simply couldn’t get up and running. In fact, the large vendors were the first two we eliminated because of their shortcomings."

After the initial elimination, dtSearch, Mondosoft, and ISYSSearch Software were left in the running. Based on Midas’ criteria, ISYS performed the best and impressed the portal development team. ISYS:web was purchased in December of 2006 and was implemented shortly thereafter. 

Upon implementation, Midas found that ISYS’ indexing strength was top-notch."We have about 3,200 documents indexed, which is about 2.3 million words," says Sommer. "Updating an index takes ten to thirty seconds, at most. The original index didn’t take much longer— under a minute." 

"The Midas Portal is a private website," says Sommer. "Most of the search engines we evaluated worked great on public websites, but anything that was password protected gave them too much trouble. They couldn’t get in. The only exception was ISYS." ISYS enabled Midas to set up five different types of user roles, each with its own security provisions. This was especially important due to the complicated permissions rules established by the team. For example, franchisees were granted access to only specific corporate documents. It was crucial that the permissions would be maintained with the search function.

The most important criteria for the selected search engine was that it needed to work in a web server farm scenario, where multiple servers handle requests from the same website. "Each of our web farms talks to a single web service," says Sommer. "In this environment we were able to install ISYS as its own server, giving us the ability to take down a farm, do maintenance, and bring it back up, all without affecting the search engine. The other search technologies we evaluated had trouble with this. ISYS handled it like a champ."

Click here for the Complete PDF with illustrations.

From Out of the Box . .
to Customized

After the Midas Portal was up and running with ISYS, Midas began to explore additional ways to configure its new search engine and to optimize its features. For example, the team used ISYS’ standard autocategorization feature from the start, then realized its potential and went further to customize the feature for optimal use within its environment.

"We let it run out of the box at first," says Sommer. "Then, we saw how cool it was and started to create our own categories and combine groups of information into categories. Since ISYS defines categories based on a document’s file path, we also tweaked the directory structure within the website so categories would pop out and make searching much easier for our users." 

In addition, Midas has enabled filtering of each category so that the user experience is intuitive. "We have tons of business units, promotions, partners, and so on," says Sommer. "We allow categories to filter by each one of those. So, if a user is looking for a specific result—like, brakes supplied by [NAPA] or promotions for shocks and struts—they can do so very quickly and easily. It doesn’t take much thought and it works like a charm every time."

Midas has made the most of ISYS’ Search Trends for analyzing and measuring search patterns. By consistently monitoring the report for "searches with no results," the Midas team is able to enhance search accuracy. "Most of the time we find out that the user is looking for the right thing, but that we didn’t tag our content properly," says Sommer. "ISYS gave us a lot more functionality with its reporting tools than a lot of the other vendors we evaluated. Most other reports consisted of the number of indexed documents and how long it took to index them, which isn’t very useful information on an ongoing basis." 

Taking advantage of ISYS’ web-based administration counci lallows Midas to maintain its portal from virtually anywhere. "It’s great," saysSommer. "My team isn’t limited to one specific location to make changes. If I’m on the  road, I can make any nec­essary tweaks, or easily instruct one of my team members to do so from their own machine. This affords us so much flexibility."

ISYS has also helped to affect Midas’ bottom line. Midas headquarters houses a business support group, which fields calls from franchisees. In previous years, the call lines experi­enced heavy traffic. Now,with ISYS supplying search functionality to the Midas Portal, all of the information that is typically requested by franchisees is readily available online. The busi­ness support group fields significantly fewer calls, enabling more productivity on both sides of the line. "If our franchisees are ever looking for something, it’s typically on the portal," says Sommer. "They don’t have to call, or possibly wait on hold anymore. And it helps to level the playing field because everyone has access to the same information." 

Moving forward, Midas plans to install ISYS for use on the company’s internal intranet. The intranet currently contains HR documents, internal training information, announcements, and other pertinent employee information.

"We’ve been thoroughly impressed with ISYS," says Sommer."It works well in our environment, met all of our criteria, and enabled us to go beyond its standard features to become a customized component of our daily business activities."

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About the Author

IAN DAVIES ( is ISYS Search Software’s founder and managing director. He guides the company’s overall direction and serves as its chief technology expert. Widely regarded for his vision and dedication to developing high-value software, he has been the linchpin to the company’s success since its inception in 1988. Ian designed the original ISYS text-retrieval system after recognizing a market opportunity for search engine technology. The technology, now in its eighth generation, has won numerous awards and has been deployed by a blue-chip list of clients that includes high-profile businesses and organizations in government, legal, lawenforcement, recruitment, IT, and more.

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What's the Future of Federated Search? You tell us! Writing Contest

Best essay wins $500 from sponsor Deep Web Technologies

The Federated Search Blog, sponsored by Deep WebTechnologies, has announced a writing contest that challenges readers to predict the future of federated search.

Entrants are asked to submit an essay that describes the landscape of federated search in 10 years. An independent team of judges will choose first, second and third prize winners, who will earn cash prizes of $500, $250 and $100 from Deep Web Technologies.

Judging will be done by a panel of noted industry experts including Marshall Breeding, Roy Tennant, Miriam Drake, Carl Grant, Judy Luther, and Peter Noerr. They will evaluate essays -- which cannot exceed 1,500 words and must be submitted in English -- based on writing quality, originality, and vision. No previously published works will be accepted. Essays are due by October 31, 2008.

Winning essays will be published in the Federated Search Blog.

For complete contest rules or to submit an essay, visit, with more details at:

The winning entry will also be published in ITI's Computers in Libraries magazine, and the winner will be invited to speak at the Computers in Libraries conference in Spring 2009.  

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SirsiDynix Enterprise Announced

SirsiDynix, provider of strategic technology solutions for libraries, announced SirsiDynix Enterprise, a new search product that features fuzzy search technology, search index updating, finding aids, consortia support, integration with SirsiDynix integrated library systems and OPAC functionality. SirsiDynix Enterprise also provides the groundwork that will support community/social networking capabilities such as user reviews, rankings, and tagging. SirsiDynix Enterprise is an add-on to current SirsiDynix OPACs.


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Fios Expands e-Discovery Services

Fios Inc., provider of discovery management services, announced it has expanded its data management services to include the native processing of popular mbox file formats, including Gmail and Google Chat files. Fios can now natively process electronically stored information (ESI) created in these formats without requiring prior conversion to the more common Microsoft Outlook PST format. Fios leverages advanced signaturing technologies and leads the market in the processing of files in their native format, including Lotus Notes and Eudora.


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Mining customer feedback

Clarabridge has unveiled Version 3.0 of its Content Mining Platform (CMP). The company says the new release incorporates a number of new customer-driven capabilities, including an intuitive guided discovery interface for analysts and researchers, enterprise class deployment capabilities and application and packaging enhancements.

Designed for use by customer-oriented analysts across marketing, product and customer care organizations, CMP 3.0 includes a drag-and-drop Web interface, Clarabridge Navigator, which makes it easy for non-IT users to harvest customer feedback from surveys, user forums, online product reviews and other consumer-oriented sources.

Further, Clarabridge says, CMP 3.0 includes significant enhancements to its sentiment extraction engine that provide clients with finer domain-specific tuning, allowing for more accurate and in-depth analysis of customer sentiment on a particular subject. Using a scalable software as a service (SaaS) model, CMP 3.0 also gives analysts from different departments the ability to collaborate on various customer experience management initiatives. It also improves the core technology that supports multi-terabyte data volumes, foreign language requirements, the processing of diverse data types, and the secure sharing of data with other applications.

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CRM search done right

Coveo has introduced a limited-availability version of G2B for CRM. This latest offering in its suite of G2B information access solutions provides designated users with a single view of all relevant customer data instantly from a wide variety of CRM applications and other data sources including, Siebel, corporate intranet, tech support e-mails, customer support databases and ERP systems.

Coveo adds that G2B for CRM also provides users with advanced content analytics, allowing management and workers to quickly develop a visual analysis of customer data and present it graphically, such as in a spreadsheet or pie chart.

Readers interested in testing and providing feedback on the product can visit here to register and download.

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Your Search System Could Keep You Out of Jail

Are you sure that the search system you’re using will satisfy the requirements of the Federal Rules for Civil Procedures (FRCP) regarding electronically stored information (ESI)? If your first reaction is "not more acronyms," I feel your pain. Vendors create acronyms faster than they upgrade their products. So let’s start with the meaning of the FRCP, focusing on the amendments regarding ESI that went into effect on Dec. 1, 2006.

First, vendors didn’t invent FRCP. The FRCP are rules governing civil procedures, applying in U.S. district courts, where civil suits are tried. These rules are promulgated by the Supreme Court pursuant to the "Rules Enabling Act," and are approved by Congress. Without getting into even more mind-numbing legalese, the 18-month-old ruling simply requires electronically stored information (of all kinds) to be discoverable in a lawsuit. The ruling also sets down some guidelines about how to produce this information and how attorneys from both sides may negotiate access to electronic evidence.

The key point is the electronic nature of the information. ESI includes any information that can be stored and retrieved electronically. "Any" means office documents, HTML files, email, instant messages, metadata on podcasts, and all other electronic formats. Further, it doesn’t matter where the information is. It can be on your website, on your intranet, on computer hard drives, in email files backed up on tape reels stored in Iron Mountain vaults, and so on. Finally, you are allowed days, not weeks or months, to deliver this information. If it looks to a judge and jury that you are not producing incriminating evidence or that you do not have your ESI systems under control, then you can be found in contempt—or worse—even if your firm is innocent of the original charges.

Is text searching the only, or even the most important, element of an e-discovery plan? IT billing rates are high, but legal billing rates are even higher. Do you even have an e-discovery plan enabling IT to comply with FRCP expeditiously? To learn more, I asked a cross section of search system and e-discovery vendors: Attenex, ISYS, and Google. These vendors agree there are four key elements to successful e-discovery programs: broad file format (and language) support, text analytics, reach (finding information wherever it resides), and a well-defined and tested process for executing your plans. E-discovery is both a business problem and a technology problem.

You must be able to find and review information no matter what its file format or language. If you switched from Corel Office to Microsoft Office, for example, you’d better be sure you can find key documents in both formats. David Haucke, VP of global marketing for ISYS, said that you must be able to search "standard and legacy formats, structured and unstructured, and both text and fields as in an email." Haucke asserts that successful forensic searching requires indexing "Everything, including formats the search system doesn’t natively understand." He also says that even with provisions against forensic "fishing expeditions," your systems must be able to work with archiving systems, since that is where most of your information likely resides.

Mike Kinnaman, VP of marketing at Attenex, emphasizes the need for text analytics, since conventional search system queries may return mountains of documents. Paying attorneys to review each of the results will likely take more time than you have and will break the bank. Instead, Kinnaman stresses the importance of your search systems to help "review, assess, and understand the content of the data after you conduct the initial collection." Reviewing your data can reduce legal review costs as well as help develop proactive case strategies.

Finally, even search giant Google asserts that the e-discovery problem is so complex that it is working with partners. Sundar Raghavan, product marketing manager for Message Security and Compliance, says, "We see archiving as the foundation for later stages of the process, and are actively working with partners in the e-discovery ecosystem to ensure that data from our solutions can be imported into other technologies."

So, can search systems keep you out of jail? At this point, you’d probably settle for keeping yourself out of the archive vault nights and weekends when that inevitable e-discovery request arrives.

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