CRM, BI Vendors Line Up Behind Google OneBox

Several CRM (customer relationship management) and BI (business intelligence) vendors have announced support for Google’s new addition to its enterprise search feature, OneBox for Enterprise. The list includes Cognos, NetSuite, Oracle, Salesforce.com and SAS Institute.

Google has released a number of tools aimed at the enterprise in recent months, some of which are supported by vendors. It is rare, though, to see a plethora of vendors from one industry participate in such an initiative. That said, in this case it’s not surprising.

CRM and Business Intelligence applications generally do a great job of reporting and analyzing customer interactions and sales leads, says Nucleus Research Vice President Rebecca Wettemann.

“They want to make sure that the users can then access, assimilate and, finally, act upon this information,” she told CRM Buyer. These are the same drivers behind development of the dashboard — a real-time user interface that displays information relevant to the user — which has become a ubiquitous feature of enterprise software.

Now those drivers have pushed CRM and BI vendors to develop more elaborate search options for users.

For example, Cognos’ search service, Cognos Go, leverages Google OneBox in three modules, according to the vendor. At the top of the search results, it delivers instant answers to common questions, displayed as graphical charts, tables or maps.

It also provides a visual representation of a related key performance metric and its status. Finally, it presents the most relevant links to other BI information, such as related alerts, dashboards, reports or analyses.

Behind the Firewall

Google OneBox can also be leveraged to provide employees with outside-the-firewall data to supplement internal data that results from a search, Kristen Brown, NetSuite vice president of business development and alliances, told CRM Buyer.

“Let’s say a user wanted to search for data about a sales lead,” she said. “[The system] could find, for example, e-mails sent within the organization from or about that lead. Then it would look for outside data such as comments on a user group.” The end search results would be like a Google search, including behind-the-firewall data sources.

A Few Concerns

Anything that makes it easier for employees to search data is a welcome development, Wettemann observes. For a CRM or BI environment, though, it is important to know that the first item is the most relevant to the search.

Also, security in general has become a growing concern for companies deploying enterprise search, as there are always certain documents within an organization that are off limits to some employees.

The CRM vendors say they have taken the necessary safeguards to build in permissions. “Only people who are authorized to see certain documents can access them,” Brown said.

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