MIT Sloan CIO Symposium: Googling your customer data

I’ve been working on the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium for the last few months, helping to pull together this annual conference that brings together CIOs from across corporate America with thought leadership and technologists from industry. This year’s topic is about maximizing the business value of IT, something that’s near and dear to my heart.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be blogging about some of the speakers and topics that we’ll cover at the conference. I welcome any input about the topics or questions for the speakers. Today’s post is about our keynote address.

One of the notes from the Gartner Symposium last week that I didn’t blog at the time was an analyst’s prediction that we’ll see increasing “consumerization” of corporate technology, as a generation that has gotten used to Google and Amazon looks at their own corporate IT and says, “why can’t you do that???” The speakers particularly pointed out that after Google’s search, looking for data across disparate systems is a frustrating experience. Our keynote speaker, Dave Girouard, who is the VP and General Manager of Google Enterprise, should be able to speak to that question—and if he doesn’t I’ll certainly ask him. Google Enterprise has rolled out some innovations in corporate search through their Google Search Appliance, including OneBox, which provides a unified search experience around both file server and intranet content and corporate information. The model that they’ve used for this is a partner plug-in model coupled with an API. The end result, in theory, is that you can type in a customer’s name in your internal search portal and get results from the file system together with sales data and forecasts, customer support issues, and other relevant data in a single, easy to read format.

The concept is great. What I’ll be interested to see is how well they avoid the pitfalls of corporate search: incompatible taxonomies, isolated data islands, customer information privacy barriers, and so on. At the very least it should be an interesting question and answer period.

Naturally, I’ll be shamelessly plugging the conference in each of these posts. You can register and get information about the speakers on the conference site. (Yes, I know it should have a blog and RSS. We’re working on it…)