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QAD improves service and support for global customer base with the Google Search Appliance

Posted by Scott Lawson, director of IT architecture, QAD

Editors note: Today’s guest blogger is Scott Lawson, director of IT architecture for QAD, a 1,300-employee company that delivers supply chain collaboration software to 5,500 manufacturers in 93 countries. QAD turned to the Google Search Appliance (GSA) to enable employees and customers to search across multiple databases and content repositories such as Lotus Notes.

At QAD, we span 30 different locations around the world, from the corporate office in California to operations in South Africa and Thailand. We pride ourselves on the quality of support we deliver to thousands of manufacturers in 27 languages. We offer more than 50 product modules that are installed in building blocks to support different rules, industry regulations, and manufacturing styles of various countries.

QAD must provide complex, detailed product information to customers, customer service representatives as well as other employees within the organization. We offer a secure extranet where customers can find information such as white papers, data sheets, support ticket status, and technical updates. As an additional resource, our public-facing Internet site provides everything from case studies to product demonstration videos and access to an online support center.

Historically, internal and external users found it challenging to find the right product and service information. Data is stored in many different repositories: Lotus Notes, an enterprise content management and collaboration system, knowledge bases, file shares, QAD’s own customer service and support system, and internal websites. Our content sources had grown organically and were somewhat disorganized, and we had millions of documents that needed to be indexed.

We were using an Autonomy search system for our intranet and public facing site, but it was not meeting user expectations for usability and search relevancy. Autonomy was also time-consuming and expensive to maintain.

In 2010, our employees began working with Google Apps, and wanted Google’s signature ease-of-use and power for search as well. We decided to evaluate the Google Search Appliance (GSA) and consider abandoning the Autonomy solution. The GSA can connect legacy enterprise systems and provide advanced security and multiple language support—all-important priorities for our business.

We worked with Google partner Perficient to develop a search roadmap, proof of concept, and ultimately a streamlined implementation. The GSA was simple to deploy and has been easy to maintain because the appliance features a one-stop administrative interface for configuration and index controls.

For QAD, costs related to search are down, search relevancy is up, and IT is doing less maintenance work. Customer service representatives and customers can locate details about products and services with ease.

Users are able to search through a massive, rich content library housed in many different repositories, all from a single search box. With the GSA, we are linking communities of employees and customers together with content into a cohesive experience. It has made us even more of a unified global company.