Come Search For My Endeca Review :)
March 26, 2014
Come Search For My Endeca Review :)
Score 8 out of 10
We are using it to index our ATG content for guided search across our site along with targeting of specific content based on search results. It is being used at this point primarily by our ecommerce department and is web-facing for the most part. This allows us to make our web content more accessible to our user base.
- Increased ability to find site content directly leading to conversion
- Ability to supply targeting content in a more affective manner allowing tailoring of customer experience
- Automation of indexing of content
We just recently started using the software earlier this year and are unlikely to change for a number of years, both from a licensing perspective, and also because we feel the software is well suited to our needs. As well, the implementation undertaking was significant, so we are highly invested in its continued usage.
Endeca is great software to facilitate site-wide search as well as guided navigation of a website. We also use Endeca "cartridges" (not sure what these are officially called) for displaying ATG code segments for specific suggestions and content targeting. For smaller organizations this would be a rather overwhelming and expensive implementation - ie. it works well for large enterprise environments.
20 - The people in our organization using Endeca range from development staff to experienced technically savvy business team members. For the most part our IS team are the primary users, but we did in fact train people who are on our ecommerce business team to utilize certain functionality that is vital to their day to day positions.
5 - We have several lead developers and product support team members who in addition to other support duties also help to maintain and support Endeca utilization, issues, and updates/upgrades as necessary. For the most part, the training that was conducting in the Oracle Training classes was a sufficient addition to their technical acumen to facilitate support.
- Guided Search
- Indexing of disparate content
- Tailored content based on customer searches.
- Using Endeca to index and search non-web content
- Using Endeca to serve unlike data in a singular location
Evaluation and Selection
- Vendor Reputation
- Existing Relationship with the Vendor
- Positive Sales Experience with the Vendor
Cost obviously played into our decision to use Endeca - it was included as part of our ATG licensing agreement, and our development team was most familiar with the Oracle product suite, so it wasn't too much of a stretch to implement it with a relatively small amount of training.
I was not originally part of the evaluation of Endeca or various other solutions that were being considered. I believe that we had decided on an entire product suite, not just in piecemeal with regard to the specific technologies being implemented. This was for interoperability, scalability, and most importantly for support.
There were some features we were hoping to get implemented in this particular release of Endeca, but were unable to facilitate those requirements due mostly to timeline. Having seen several other implementations, we will definitely have future iterations to add functionality and improve upon our implementation of Endeca. For the time being, we are satisfied with our implementation as it turned out.
Change management was a big part of the implementation and was well-handled - During the planning and analysis phases we realized that the software had a great deal of customizability, and, without better terminology, had multiple ways to skin a cat, and thus we spent a lot of time firming up technical implementation decisions to suite our data. When digging into the execution and control phase, we realized that there were a number of features/functions that we didn't uncover and thus ended up having to revisit some of them (diacritic folding for example) - not too big of a deal, but definitely threw a bit of a wrench in our timeline.
The training is actually really good, and absolutely necessary - although this is software that has great documentation, the documentation itself is so vast, that it would be difficult to learn haphazardly, not to mention being incredibly time consuming to do so. Online training probably would have been fine except for the fact that having someone look over your shoulder to see where you're going wrong is helpful. This also allowed our team to sit in a single room and converse about functionality, etc. that would have been difficult to facilitate via an online class.
We did some online Q&A with the Oracle team, but I would definitely recommend doing an in person class if you have a large team that will be attending - there's definitely no replacements for a large class of technically oriented staff members who can drive conversation about specific topics that might surface.
There were some items that we ended up having to figure out on our own as we went through the software, but I can't imagine having just been handed the software itself and trying to learn it without some formal training, even if just a brief walkthrough. It's intuitive once you've been given the basics, but without the basics, the documentation is daunting.
Support has been very good, and the trainers for the various Endeca courses have all been very willing to help long after the classes have been completed, so in the instances where we're waiting on support from Oracle, it's often that the members of their training arm can help us out as well.
Problems get solved
Kept well informed
No escalation required
Quick Initial Response
As mentioned in the previous email, Oracle by themselves typically has good response times and their customer support team is knowledgeable. In addition to that, their training teams, as well as their professional services team (off the clock) has proven to be VERY helpful and forthcoming, even when they're not on the lock - they really have gone over and above what is required to help ensure things run smoothly within our organization.
The system itself is very usable, and with proper training is very sensible in its organization and method of operation. There are some downsides in initial setup in the way things are imported (or not in some cases) in setting up properties and dimensions. Overall however it's amazingly flexible in terms of the content it can index and make available for search.
Easy to use
Feel confident using
Requires technical support
Slow to learn
Lots to learn
- The workbench is pretty easy to use
- Setting up dimensions/properties is pretty straight forward
- Setting up precedence rules is fairly simple
- Importing dimensions/properties is somewhat lack luster, especially with regard to nesting
- The flags themselves are numerous and well documented, but you really have to know they're there in the first place
- Indexing can sometimes be somewhat slow if you have extremely large data sets.