Search Matters for Operations Teams

Sunday, October 04, 2009 09:26
Search Matters for Operations Teams

When we think of search – we frequently envision our web browsers and Google, Yahoo (and the new Bing from Microsoft) search engines. However, internal to your practices there are thousands (and multiples of thousands) of files, emails, attachments and other bits of data you need to utilize.

Even in the most organized teams staff has to spend some time trying to find files or information from time to time. Organized virtual file storage means layers upon layers of folders in hierarchies that keep everything in its place. It also brings with it innumerable clicks of the mouse to navigate and retrieve when needed.  With desktop search, this information is indexed and allows for your team to simply type a few letters or a phrase to receive real time results across email, local hard drives, file and network servers and even external hard drives.

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There are several business-friendly desktop search tools available, some free and some for a fee. They all handle the local desktop and email well, with support for the majority of file types we use (Microsoft Office formats, pdf, text files, images, videos, audio files, etc.).
These tools all have a web search function that can bring web search engine results to your desktop in conjunction with local results if you set those options.
Free Products
Google Desktop – This cross-platform application installs locally and can index across local and network drives as well as your local email. If your team uses other Google tools, it natively indexes across those. Google Desktop also introduces the concept of “widgets” on your desktop – mini applications similar to those used on an iPhone – that do simple tasks such as tracking tickers and streaming news from the web.
Spotlight - If your office uses Apple computers, you have this functionality in Spotlight – a built in search tool that keeps track of your information and can search across local and remote locations with the same functionality and speed.
Windows Desktop Search – Microsoft has its own native desktop search tool that spans across Office files, Microsoft Outlook as well as local and network hard drives.
Premium Products – the features that set apart the paid products are dedicated customer support, saving searches, exporting search results lists and real time previews of files within search results. Both of these products are $50 per user (one-time). So if you need the expanded features, this is friendly to even the most conservative technology budget for most teams.
Copernic Desktop Search – provides the same standard search features as the free products above, although in my opinion, performs slightly faster and more efficiently.
X1 Pro Search – This was originally Yahoo Desktop Search and morphed into a professional product when Yahoo chose to stop offering this in its free portfolio of products. Again, with commercial development focused on the software, it will slightly outperform its free peers.

Comments (2)

Search applications are powerful tools to help back office and advisor-facing service teams quickly find the information they are looking for. However, the universe of available documents to search might be limited if the firm is not using optical character recognition (OCR) on all of the documents they scan. OCR will convert an image-only PDF file into a file with full-text overlay "hidden" beneath the image. This allows the desktop search applications to look inside the PDF files and index all of the words it recognizes. So if advisors adopt the use of desktop search, they also must adopt the use of OCR on 100% of scanned documents.
billwinterberg , October 04, 2009
I used Google desktop search when it came out a few years ago and is crashed repeatedly. Maybe it is better now. I have been using the desktop search fucntion in Windows Vista and it is pretty darn good. For searching emails, I have for years been hopelessly addicted to Nelson Email Organizer and recommend it highly. I'd be lost without it. You can download a free trial version at
agluck , October 11, 2009

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