I know that we’re in the enterprise search business, but I wanted to share a point of view about Dropbox as an enterprise search tool for companies. First I would like to point out that the file-hosting service Dropbox (www.dropbox.com) and enterprise search tools are not the same or even direct competitors. I recently got into a discussion with a business owner about Dropbox and enterprise search. He was trying to make the point that his company would do fine with Dropbox and that he would save “a ton of money” by using the free service.
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Enterprise Search in Industry
I agree that using a free “enterprise search” service will always save you money on the product, but what about all of the productivity costs that are incurred? I’ll give you a quick run-down about what I’m talking about. He runs a fairly large firm that has five branches throughout the country (think heavy industry). He said that within those companies are regional teams that are responsible for a certain product within that specific region. The reason he says he can get away with using Dropbox instead of an enterprise search tool is because these teams would have a way to communicate and share data without involving the resources of the company as a whole. Those of you in the Enterprise Search industry can probably see my next comment. Do your teams sell entirely different products in different regions? No. Why would you want to limit the amount of data that each team has? You see, with an enterprise search solution, you are able to manage it form a central location, meanwhile avoiding huge security risks.
If a team in Missouri needs information about a product or a quote that’s been done in Florida, Dropbox is not going to help. As he saw it, Dropbox would be used throughout the regional team and managed by the team leader (so, not company-wide). An enterprise search platform would accomplish this task (centrally located searchable database). Enterprise search (in this environment) would also lead to price integrity. If someone from region 1 bought a product and then someone in region two orders that same product. A quick enterprise search search from the team in region 2 will pull up the invoice from region 1, thus making it easier (and much faster) for the team to quote. Once again, handled on a regional basis, this wouldn’t be possible.
Cost and Labor
In the end, it is up to every company to make their own decisions on enterprise searches, but a centralized enterprise search tool will almost always be the better choice. If you look at what your teams are doing when they duplicate work that has already been done, it’s a no-brainer. The cost of labor is after all still the largest expense of any company, so if you can use their time more efficiently, you stand to save “a ton of money”.