Article by Steven Goldstein, CEO of ResoluteAI
I was at a conference a few weeks back and I was talking to an acquaintance about ResoluteAI. In the middle of the conversation, a woman walking by overheard a snippet of the conversation and interrupted, “SharePoint for Science! Is that new from Microsoft?”
I replied, “No, sorry, there’s no such thing as SharePoint for science.”
She quickly shot back, “Well there should be.”
“Well there could be,” I said. I asked for her card so I could follow-up. She didn’t have a card but let me take a photo of her badge.
In early 2014 a blogger named Ed Ferron had a post titled “Rest In Peace SharePoint – A Place Where Documents Go To Die.” From there the often-heard anecdote “SharePoint is where information goes to die” was probably born.
According to Microsoft, more than 250,000 organizations use SharePoint, including over 85% of Fortune 500 companies who use SharePoint Online as part of Office 3651. Despite its ubiquity and over 200 million users, SharePoint search has never been easy or efficient. In fact it’s often cited as a significant flaw.
For most of its life SharePoint has been plagued by an inconsistent search UI that confused users more than it helped them. This has gotten to a point where Microsoft has thrown in the towel and made an all-new search for SharePoint online. This is a lot easier to use, at the expense of being entirely bereft of any meaningful ways to refine your results.2
Despite its colossal size, it’s quite interesting to learn that people have a difficult time with the SharePoint online search feature. There is an amplitude of different factors that can cause this error, both functional errors by the user and Microsoft, whose default functionality may not cater towards the user experience as well as what the users expect.3
On the surface, Microsoft has built some of the search capabilities users want into SharePoint, but they’re not deployed effectively. For example, you can tag content to make it easier to find, but the process is cumbersome. Similarly, there’s faceted search capabilities, but it’s based on the concept of “refiners” and is also not straightforward. It’s described here by Microsoft:
You can add refiners to a page to help users quickly browse to specific content. Refiners are based on managed properties from the search index. To use managed properties as refiners, the managed properties must be enabled as refiners, or crawled properties must be mapped to managed properties that are enabled as refiners.
Faceted navigation is the process of browsing for content by filtering on refiners that are tied to category pages. Faceted navigation lets you specify different refiners for category pages, even when the underlying page displaying the categories is the same.4
For some users, though, the issue isn’t the specific functionality, it’s more that SharePoint was designed as a generic, unspecialized repository, with no consideration of specific types of content it might be used for – “SharePoint for Science” is the solution I described earlier.
Nebula from ResoluteAI
A remarkable number of organizations whose products are driven by science use SharePoint to store scientific information. And users at a large number of those organizations complain about not being able to find their work, nor the work of their colleagues that has been shared with them. ResoluteAI’s Nebula Institutional Research platform was built to solve this problem, specifically for scientific content. We solve the problem in three ways:
- Processing customer content in any file format and creating a comprehensive index with consistent metadata
- Providing search tools that are robust and science specific
- Presenting result refinement options that save time and effort
Nebula is essentially “developer-free,” meaning that once we point our crawler at a SharePoint drive, everything happens automatically. What happens is this:
- All content is tagged with a ResoluteAI’s proprietary taxonomy as well as several industry taxonomies: PubChem, MeSH, MedDRA, SNOMED, and others. The content can be in any format: documents, scanned notebooks, audio, video, presentations.
- For scanned documents, we conduct OCR so that content can be indexed.
- For video content, we transcribe the video and conduct image recognition on every frame so charts or graphs can be identified and searched for.
Scientists can then search and analyze their internal content and get accurate results without dealing with the idiosyncrasies of SharePoint. Once search results are obtained, Nebula includes a full analytics, visualization, and collaboration package that can incorporate internal proprietary information as well as external information from numerous sources including global patents, academic literature, IEEE, Crunchbase, clinical trials, and several FDA datasets.
Some examples of Nebula’s search capabilities:
Find a recorded interview where the speaker mentions “Pharmacogenetics”
Find charts embedded in a document with “treatment” AND “cell viability”
Show the content connections between granular tags and high level categories on “Blood-brain barrier” in a given corpus–131 records.
Find where your content of interest (recordings, videos, technical drawings, X & Y plots, etc.) live within the SharePoint structure (paths) that has been shared with you:
When onboarding to a new company or project, there's a crucial step to get up to speed–reviewing, reading, and watching previously published documents and files to establish a base of knowledge. This step can be difficult, time-consuming, and wholly dependent on another person showing where all the files live in the system. The filing structure is descriptive, intuitive, and highly segmented in the best-case scenario, which is rarely the case. Imagine a new hire needing to find a results chart or where all the KOL interviews live in SharePoint–how could they do that now? They could only find them if the files were labeled something intuitive. With Nebula, the hire doesn't need to know more than the type of files.
If you were looking for the recorded interviews in our example heatmap below, you see the "Consumer Health" folder houses the vast majority of MPEG 4 Files–that would be a great place to start.
For more information and a demonstration of how Nebula can bring SharePoint back to life, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.