Guest Post: Searching for Answers – how enterprise search can improve your ROI (Return on Information)

This week for something a little different!  They say knowledge is power. So how do harness the information and knowledge contained in thousands or hundreds of thousands of documents scattered between your Intranet, CRM, SAP, PC, email, document management systems and bespoke databases? How do you find that single paragraph in a 1000 page report on a file-share or SharePoint that has the information you need? Return on Information is being able to find the information and knowledge your organisation already has when and where you need it.

Here is a case study on a gig I’ve just finished where I deployed a customised Google search solution to help the Australian Organics Industry meet its objectives, and to respond to huge new market opportunities. It was really great working with James partnering with Objective Digital during the design phase and then for expert advice on key UX matters.

The problem

Demand for organics in Australia is booming, with total value of $623M worth of organic products sold in 2008. The local market is growing at almost 25% a year. This is an exciting new opportunity for a country with a long agricultural history like Australia.

But here’s the kicker. We’re not producing enough locally to meet this exploding demand. In fact, local organics production is growing at only half the rate at which demand is increasing. The difference must be imported at high cost to consumers, the environment and our economic performance.

How do we fix this? And more importantly as I writing this for a usability/UX Blog – what does this have to do with usability or UX?

The Australian organics industry identified access to knowledge and information a key barrier to more Australian farmers going organic or expanding existing organic production. There is a wealth of information available, but it is incredibly fragmented, residing on hundreds of Industry Association, Research Agency and University websites in Australia and around the world.



The Solution

Use slide 13

A normal search is helpful; but, as you’d know, it’s just not targeted enough to provide the highly relevant results required by busy producers. Uncle Joe’s organic tomato blog might be interesting to some of us, but not necessarily to serious commercial producers.

I worked with the organics industry through the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC) to develop a customised Google search that specifically searches the leading 200 sources of Organics information in Australia and the World, as identified by the organics industry themselves.

Add in slide 14 image but add all the steps

James provided crucial input at all phases of the project.  Objective Digital facilitated the planning phase workshops and again provided expert opinion on the search engine’s user interface design.  This really meant that RIRDC had the confidence that they search tool was meeting the needs of farmers and consumers.

Requirements workshop and card sorting



James led a card-sort workshop that  

Information architecture and wireframes

Insert IA?

Paper prototypes and iteration

Insert wireframes and prototype?


Describe what you did.

The outcome

Describe what they have now

“The beauty of this website is that it’s a far more targeted way of searching for information about organic farming compared to more conventional search engines,” said Dr Dave Alden, RIRDC Senior Research Manager.

“So if you type ‘organic strawberries’ into the hub, it will go away and search and come back to you with the most relevant and up to date links?”

“You probably won’t get as many returns as if you were using a normal search engine – what you will get however are far more targeted returns from leading organic sites.”

“Search results are sorted into various categories, including consumers, producers, retailers and researchers, which enable visitors to the website to download information that is most relevant to them.”


Since it’s launch in September, the Organic Knowledge Hub has been well received. Senator Christine Milne from the Australian Greens said:

“The organics hub website will be invaluable to consumers, but it will also provide a huge opportunity for farmers around Australia who are fed up with being the price takers from the processors in the bulk commodity markets.

“This provides the opportunity for them to transition and bypass traditional marketing mechanisms.”

“The website, combined with the national broadband network, opens the door to a whole new direct relationship between farmers and consumers. That can only be good for the environment, public health and rural communities.”


How can a Google customised search solution enhance your organisations Return on Information?

Todays blog post was by Dean Hargreaves from DH&A. DH&A partners with Objective Digital and is a Sydney based consultancy specialising in projects at the intersection of technology, people and systems.

Tweet Dean @deanhargreaves

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About Objective Experience

Objective Experience is your partner for customer experience strategy, research, design and usability testing. Our team of passionate Customer Experience Consultants uncover insights from your customers to optimize customer journeys across all digital and physical channels – mobile apps, websites, systems, shopper and retail. We research on how customers interact with products, services and environments through interviews, surveys, focus groups, desk research, eye tracking and usability testing. Actionable recommendations are developed from our in-depth observations and testing. Our partners and clients come from a wide range of businesses and industries - from large financial institutions and government organisations to technical consultancies, Universities and not-for-profit businesses. Objective Digital Holdings Pty Ltd has offices in Sydney (Objective Experience Sydney) and Singapore (Objective Experience Singapore). Eye Tracking, CX, UX, Usability Testing, Shopper Research & Design Thinking across Australasia and South East Asia.

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