INO Speeds Innovation And Better Serves Customers With Enterprise Search

Our knowledge used to be shared mainly via a people network, that is, around the proverbial water cooler. INO employees would slowly learn “who knew what” during their tenure, creating a culture of “tribal knowledge.” The inability to share important knowledge across teams and the business was hindering INO’s ability to more quickly innovate, serve customers and ultimately sell more.

Institut National D’Optique (INO) is a technological research and development firm specializing in optics and photonic solutions, where knowledge is the main currency. In business for more than 25 years, we are home to the largest concentration of skills in our field and serve a global client base of all size companies. Eighty percent of INO’s workforce is highly educated, highly skilled scientists, technicians and engineers. From 2010 to 2011, we were awarded 12 new patents, for a total of 134 patents held on a variety of technological innovations.

INO’s business centers on expertise, knowledge and information and its competitive edge is found within its people and their intellectual property (IP). It’s what drives innovation within INO and sets us apart from the competition. Our work is all about information contained in people, projects, processes and systems, and it continues to grow exponentially every day. In fact, we have three times the amount of PCs compared to the number of employees, so you can get a sense of the sheer volumes of information that need to be shared among our teams of scientists and technicians. After 25 years of doing business, it became impossible to do this effectively.

Our knowledge used to be shared mainly via a people network, that is, around the proverbial water cooler. INO employees would slowly learn “who knew what” during their tenure, creating a culture of “tribal knowledge.” A long-term employee would inherently “know” more than a new employee because they had learned who to go to for information. New employees were at a disadvantage; ramp times were extended and their ability to contribute to the business was hindered because of the time it took to learn “who knows what,” and become part of the inner tribe. The inability to share important knowledge across teams and the business was hindering INO’s ability to more quickly innovate, serve customers and ultimately sell more.

Beyond our informal way of sharing information, we also realized the embedded search functionality within our applications was cumbersome and didn’t present an accurate view of all the knowledge of our employees. For example, I heard stories of employees accessing only

200,000 documents when searching for information on a customer project, when in fact we have more than 4 million documents that contain valuable knowledge that our scientists and technicians need to do their jobs. Looking back, our employees were only getting a fraction of the view of all knowledge, and were lacking the insight that they needed to be more effective at their jobs.

We came to the realization that INO needed a better way to share critical knowledge and information across teams, ensure an accurate, consolidated view of all information, near real time, and get new employees up to speed quickly.

Selection and Implementation Process

INO formed a steering committee comprised of a representative from each department that would ultimately help us in the selection process. The committee outlined its stringent requirements, with a specialized focus on security and permissioning.

Since we deal with vast amounts of private information under NDA with our customers, security was a big concern for us in the selection process. We were looking to partner with a company that was able to respect the security permissions we had set up in our systems, and one that also had the flexibility to set up permissions to information based on project teams and roles within INO. This level of security is paramount to our business and how we operate, and it was critical for our partner to meet these needs.

The ability to easily configure and refine the solution by role and ensure personalized context was also critical to our decision. Because our employees work on different projects for various customers, what is contextually relevant to one project team isn’t necessarily relevant to another. We decided to evaluate Coveo’s enterprise search solution alongside Microsoft and Google.

Once our committee saw the POC and how its knowledge and information was consolidated and correlated and presented in a unified way through Coveo’s Insight Consoles, while respecting its security and permissions, it was easy to see the immediate impact and value that Coveo would deliver to the bottom line. Our selection committee immediately saw a direct return on the investment we would achieve, and were able to calculate the ROI to be less than a year. This, along with Coveo’s ease of use and extensive security features and permissioning, were key factors behind our decision to implement their solution.

Perhaps equally important was the ability to refine facets and present contextually relevant knowledge and information by employee role. This greatly improves the efficiency of our employees. After selecting Coveo, the INO team quickly expanded our use from the original proof of concept, to include what we considered to be our most important information and knowledge repositories and where INO IP, project documents, client information and research reside: emails, project/product/platform/group/process documents and fileshares. This was rolled out to all INO employees.

INO then expanded our use of Coveo even further and indexed additional systems including our ticketing system, CRM system, ERP system, intranet and more. Currently, approximately 99 percent of INO’s relevant corporate information is indexed by Coveo, giving scientists, engineers and all employees immediate, single-screen access to the most up-to-date information across all enterprise systems.

Better Insight into Knowledge & Information Drives Impressive Results and Industry Recognition for INO

Using advanced enterprise search, we now have greater insight into all our corporate knowledge and information, and our customers and their projects. This unified view of information helps us to better collaborate on projects, quickly understand who our subject-matter experts are, get our new employees up to speed and become productive faster, avoid the recreation of work that’s already been done and more. These benefits have an impact on our ability to innovate more quickly which translates directly into better customer service.

At INO, we were also able to report impressive productivity gains. INO CFO Martin Larrivée said, “Since our Coveo implementation, we have significantly increased our efficiency and productivity numbers, with our average user saving two hours each week searching for information, or recreating work that already exists, which translates into a five percent improvement in productivity per employee.” A five percent productivity gain translates to big dollars for us. Our employees are very highly skilled people — engineers and scientists with masters, doctorates and post-doctorate degrees — so our average salary is very high. A five percent improvement in productivity translates into a lot of cost savings.

INO has also integrated enterprise search into the company’s new hire training process. New hires get immediately trained for 30 minutes on Coveo to help them get up to speed faster, understand subject matter experts and who knows what within the organization, and quickly ramp up on customer projects and requirements. Our new hires come up to speed more quickly and are able to start contributing to the success of client projects right away. This has helped improve our customer service, innovation levels and more.

The results of our Coveo implementation have earned INO awards and recognition — both internally and externally. Our internal awards program dubbed “INOvation” recognizes the outstanding achievements of teams who continue to push the boundaries of innovation, and what is possible with technology. Our steering committee team was recently awarded an “INOvation award” for its Coveo implementation and delivering better insight into the company’s exceedingly growing and vast amount of critical knowledge.


Institut National D’Optique (INO) is a technological design and development firm specializing in optics and photonic solutions, where knowledge is the main currency. In business for more than 25 years, INO is home to the largest concentration of skills in its field and serves a global client base of all size companies. Eighty percent of INO’s workforce is highly educated, highly skilled scientists, technicians and engineers. From 2010 – 2011, INO was awarded 12 new patents, for a total of 134 patents held on a variety of technological innovations.

Learn more at www.ino.ca.

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