Agnes Molnar: “Search is and will be a strategic question for more and more companies”

February 13, 2019

Aghy, you are one of the very few people who spoke at all seven Collaboration Summits? What are your memories of the first Collabsummit (SPC Adriatics) back in 2012?  

I still remember when you guys invited me to speak there. I thought, ‘Of course. It will be fun!’ – and, obviously, it was – much more than expected. I’d already been speaking at commercial and community events for a long time by then, but you exceeded everyone’s expectations. It was no question to come back in the years that followed, again and again.

And still you surprise me every year. It’s like a family get-together now.

How much has the [Collaboration] world changed since then?

A lot and not at all, at the same time.

A lot because we have new tools, new events and new challenges to solve. That makes an impact on the community, of course. Some people slowly disappear; others join – that’s part of life, I guess.

And not at all because the SharePoint/Office 365 community is still strong and outstanding. We can rely on each other. We’re friends with no borders. This makes this community so unique. Whenever I come to your event, I feel as though I’m home.

I remember when I took my husband to Zagreb a few years ago… We drove there, and when we arrived at Aristos, the lobby was already filled with fellow friends and speakers. We stepped inside, intending to check in, and everyone instantly jumped in front of me to welcome and hug me. My husband felt lost  He didn’t understand who these guys were that were so fiercely hugging his wife. But it didn’t take him too long to feel comfortable and included. That experience is still the subject of our discussions quite often.

I’m telling you this story because it shows everything about this community: the wide smiles and tight hugs when we see each other; as well as the easy inclusion when you’re a newbie. We don’t mind. Be kind, be yourself, and you’re in. That’s all.

Talking about collaboration from a wider perspective and not only to do with the community itself: a few years ago, I used Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Docs and who knows what else to share content with my clients.

Today – it’s Teams. Period. Nothing else unless they insist.

As a result, my life is more organised. My email inbox is less insane. Communicating is easier. Finding everything is easier than ever (well, if you know how to optimise your search in the right way  ).

Office 365 is becoming standard everywhere. That’s a huge step forward.

Actually, it’s more complex today than ever. ‘Good old’ SharePoint Search is still a thing, a very strong part of most of my clients’ search strategies. At the same time, Microsoft Search will be a big game-changer, no question. I believe they complement each other: the ‘classic’ old way of rank-based search and the new, ‘modern’ personalised search. Like yin and yang, we need both, we just have to find the right way.

 

What about the status of the world of search today? Microsoft Search, Azure Search, Teams Search, Delve, or good old SharePoint Search? Or all of them?

I wish I could tell you to use this or that… It’s much more complex, so there’s no ‘one size fits all’ answer.

Actually, it’s more complex today than ever. ‘Good old’ SharePoint Search is still a thing, a very strong part of most of my clients’ search strategies. At the same time, Microsoft Search will be a big game-changer, no question. I believe they complement each other: the ‘classic’ old way of rank-based search and the new, ‘modern’ personalised search. Like yin and yang, we need both, we just have to find the right way.

Teams is an interesting one. I am a heavy user of Teams, yes. I love it. But I never would have thought I’d ever do a Teams workshop – and yet, it’s a thing now. Even if Search is the primary focus, my clients keep asking for Teams training. As a client of mine said, ‘It’s much more than another chit-chat app.’

Delve? Groups? Office.com? SharePoint Home? Hub Sites? The list we have to discuss when considering search is almost endless, and it’s becoming longer and longer by the day.

Yes, these are crazy times we live in. But I believe the challenge is really beautiful! Visit my session or workshop with Matt, and I promise to prove it! 


Is there something special about search today that you would like to say to our readers?

C’mon! Search has always been very specialdo you think I would have been around for such a long time otherwise?

Seriously, I believe, finally, we’ve got to the point where search is and will be a strategic question for more and more companies. Office 365 is a huge enabler here: as we have more and more apps and more and more content as well, search is becoming more and more essential. Slowly, it is becoming an essential part of users’ everyday lives. Search is everywhere, it’s more complex than ever and it’s more beautiful, too. Special it is, no question!

What makes it even more beautiful is the fact that when you consider implementing or enhancing search, it’s always a multi-domain art and science. You have to understand what SharePoint/Office 365 can do, yes. You have to understand the users’ needs, too, and to optimise the information architecture and the taxonomy. It’s always an iterative process with multi-domain experts. Search is not a single technology problem to solve anymore.

And this is what makes it so special to me, personally, even after this many years: I can always learn something new; every client is unique, every project is somewhat new, and there’s always something new to learn and something to apply from previous projects. Add the pace of changes in Office 365 to the equation, and the result is so exciting!

So, what’s Agnes doing when she’s not doing search projects or being active in the community?

I keep convincing my friends to visit Budapest.

Seriously, if you want to know what makes me relax, it’s having a glass of good wine or a cup of tea/coffee and a good book, and a quiet corner somewhere – that’s my way to chill out. I’m an introvert. I travel a lot, I love travelling so much! But I always try to find a few hours for myself to recharge my batteries, even when I have the craziest schedule. So if you see me sitting alone somewhere with my Kindle, don’t worry, it’s not because I feel bad or lonely.

And also, you know, I have three children, so they always make sure I have something to do or worry about.  Three different ages, three different personalities – so much fun, so many challenges. I learn so much from them. I wouldn’t be the consultant I am today without them. Maybe this could be another blog post sometime.

Collaboration means two-way communication!

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