Customer Solution Case Study General Mills Frees More Time for Innovation

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					                                        Customer Solution Case Study

                                        General Mills Frees More Time for Innovation
                                        with Research-Focused Search Application

Overview                                “By using FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint, our
Country or Region: United States
Industry: Manufacturing—Consumer        researchers can refine their searches and find exactly
packaged goods                          what they are looking for. They spend more time
Customer Profile                        innovating than looking for information.”
General Mills is one of the world’s
                                          Michelle Check, Research and Development Systems Leader, Global Knowledge Services,
leading food companies, marketing                                                                               General Mills
more than 100 consumer brands
globally. General Mills is based in     To stay out front as one of the world’s leading food companies,
Minneapolis, Minnesota, and has
                                        General Mills strives to get new product ideas out of
30,000 employees.
                                        development and onto supermarket shelves as quickly as
Business Situation
                                        possible. To help researchers take full advantage of information
Company researchers desired a faster,
more accurate search mechanism for      and expertise throughout the company, General Mills created a
combing thousands of internal
                                        research-focused search application by using Microsoft
documents, and locating experts, in
the course of creating new products.    SharePoint Server 2010 and Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010
                                        for SharePoint. Researchers enjoy faster and more accurate
General Mills deployed Microsoft        searches, which yields more time for innovation. Because
SharePoint Server 2010 and Microsoft
                                        researchers can perform more comprehensive and accurate
FAST Search Server 2010 for
SharePoint to create a comprehensive,   searches, they minimize time spent duplicating efforts and
tunable search-driven application
                                        benefit from the work of others. General Mills was able to meet
focused on the needs of researchers.
                                        85 percent of its search needs with the out-of-the-box
                                        functionality available in the two Microsoft programs, and it is
 More time for innovation
 Ability to expand on research         considering extending the solution companywide.
 Lower costs from easy customization
“We conservatively                      Situation                                     applications had its own built-in search
                                        One of the world’s leading food               capability, so researchers had to perform
estimated that a better                 companies, General Mills operates in          the same search multiple times, usually
                                        more than 100 countries and markets           by using different syntax rules. Besides
search capability could                 more than 100 consumer brands,                consuming time, redundant search
save our employees a                    including Cheerios, Häagen-Dazs, Nature       efforts produced a wide range of results
                                        Valley, Betty Crocker, Pillsbury, and         and huge volumes of poorly qualified
minimum of a couple of                  Green Giant. Headquartered in                 results.
                                        Minneapolis, Minnesota, General Mills
hours a month, which                    employs 30,000 people worldwide and           Researchers also had difficulty searching
quickly adds up to                      posted 2009 sales of U.S.$15.9 billion.       for information that they did not know
                                                                                      existed, for example, “What is the trend
thousands of hours a                    The global food industry is very              with whole grain?” or “Is there high
                                        competitive, and to remain a leader in        consumer interest in Vitamin D and
year.”                                  the industry, it is critical to develop new   calcium?” “We had so many items
         Michelle Check, Research and   ideas quickly and to be the first to          indexed that researchers would get a
  Development Systems Leader, Global    market with innovative offerings. Before      flood of results back, and they didn’t
    Knowledge Services, General Mills   developing new products, scientists and       know where to begin exploring to find
                                        researchers in the General Mills              what they needed,” Check says. “We
                                        Innovation, Technology, and Quality           needed better search refinement.”
                                        (ITQ) group review the research that
                                        General Mills has already done for similar    General Mills also wanted to better
                                        products. “We have accumulated vast           connect its researchers with one another.
                                        amounts of knowledge across the               The ITQ group includes people located
                                        company over decades spent developing         all over the world, and the company
                                        many great products, and we want to           knew that researchers in developing
                                        make sure that we’re not wasting              international locations could benefit
                                        valuable development time reinventing         from the expertise of their peers.
                                        the wheel,” says Michelle Check,              Conversely, scientists in Minneapolis
                                        Research and Development Systems              wanted to be able to learn about
                                        Leader in the Global Knowledge Services       successful ideas developed for non-U.S.
                                        at General Mills.                             markets. However, none of the
                                                                                      company’s search tools returned
                                        However, the sheer volume of                  “people” results, which limited the
                                        information that the researchers needed       researcher’s ability to find subject matter
                                        to reference made it difficult to navigate    experts.
                                        search results and reach meaningful
                                        conclusions. Researchers stored much of       “We conservatively estimated that a
                                        their content on Microsoft Office             better search capability could save our
                                        SharePoint Server 2007 team Web sites         employees a minimum of a couple of
                                        but also consulted other applications         hours a month, which quickly adds up to
                                        within General Mills, such as an              thousands of hours a year,” Check says.
                                        Electronic Lab Notebook application,          “That’s a lot of extra time that our people
                                        where scientists record research data; the    could focus on innovation rather than on
                                        company labeling system, which contains       non-value-added work.”
                                        product packaging copy; and a global
                                        product database. Each of these
“Setting up FAST Search                   Solution                                      been searching separately. “We linked in
                                          Through 2009, the General Mills               our existing SharePoint sites, internal
Server 2010 for                           Enterprise Collaboration Platform Team        Web sites, labeling system, and even
                                          researched search technologies to help        federated external sources, such as an
SharePoint was not that                   the ITQ group—and ultimately the rest         external new-products database, and
difficult, because it sits                of the company—reduce the time spent          Bing, which is included with FAST Search
                                          searching for information and people          Server 2010 for SharePoint out of the
behind SharePoint                         and improve search results. “We did a lot     box,” Werner says.
                                          of benchmarking against other
Server 2010 and thus                      companies,” says Jenny Hon, Project           Comprehensive, Tunable Search
uses an architecture that                 Manager in the Enterprise Collaboration       With its new research and development
                                          Platform Team at General Mills. “We           (R&D) search application, ITQ
we already know.”                         were really impressed with what we saw        researchers can easily search multiple
                                          of Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010 for      content sources by using a single search
       Jeremiah Werner, Development
   Consultant, Enterprise Collaboration   SharePoint.”                                  box. Icons for each content type, called
          Platform Team, General Mills                                                  visual cues, tell the researcher what kind
                                          Rapid Setup of Search-Driven                  of document an item is—a Microsoft
                                          Application                                   Office PowerPoint presentation, a
                                          The General Mills Enterprise                  Microsoft Office Word document, an
                                          Collaboration Platform Team worked            Adobe Acrobat file, an e-mail message,
                                          with Global Knowledge Services (Check’s       and so forth—as well as which business
                                          group) to create a pilot of a search-         application it comes from—such as the
                                          driven application for ITQ. A search-         labeling system or the new-products
                                          driven application is one that helps a        database. The visual cues and source
                                          well-defined set of people—in this case,      information help researchers find the
                                          scientists and researchers—accomplish         information they are looking for faster.
                                          specific business tasks more efficiently by
                                          using a search engine customized to           Researchers can index content from a
                                          their content, roles, and needs.              number of different sources and use
                                                                                        what Microsoft calls deep refiners to
                                          “Setting up FAST Search Server 2010 for       quickly and easily filter results. For
                                          SharePoint was not that difficult, because    example, General Mills created a custom
                                          it sits behind SharePoint Server 2010 and     product refiner that enables researchers
                                          thus uses an architecture that we already     to narrow search results by particular
                                          know,” says Jeremiah Werner,                  products. If a researcher performs a
                                          Development Consultant in the                 search for “high fiber cereals,” he or she
                                          Enterprise Collaboration Platform Team        can further run specific product refiners
                                          at General Mills. “We had FAST Search up      for Total, Cheerios, and Chex cereals. All
                                          and running within a couple weeks, and        the content that contains those keywords
                                          it took a few more weeks to implement         generates in a separate area of the
                                          the whole solution.”                          screen. By using refiners, General Mills
                                                                                        can incorporate the language of its
                                          By using the out-of-the-box data              business in the search experience to yield
                                          connectors in FAST Search Server 2010         more accurate, useful results.
                                          for SharePoint, General Mills was able to
                                          quickly and easily connect all the diverse    Because FAST Search Server 2010 for
                                          information sources that researchers had      SharePoint aggregates information from
“Because the information                 multiple applications, General Mills also     relevance of the search process to
                                         added a visual refiner, which is a bar        different areas of the business. Marketing
is just a click away,                    chart that shows researchers how many         people are looking for certain types of
                                         of the search results come from each          information when they perform a search
researchers are more                     content source. For example, at a quick       on “Cheerios,” and R&D staffers look for
likely to look at it than if             glance, a researcher can see that five of     something entirely different when they
                                         the results came from the labeling            search on the same word. By taking
the information was                      system and 150 results came from the          advantage of the user profiles in FAST
                                         Electronic Lab Notebook application.          Search Server 2010 for SharePoint, the
buried in thousands of                   “Seeing that results appeared from the        company can tune search results for
search results.”                         labeling system might encourage the           particular user contexts. “Users in human
                                         researcher to check out labels from           resources, manufacturing, marketing, and
          Michelle Check, Research and   existing high fiber cereals,” Check says.     other areas will get results that make
   Development Systems Leader, Global    “Because the information is just a click      sense to them,” Hon says. “We’re excited
      Knowledge Services General Mills
                                         away, researchers are more likely to look     that we can now do this so easily on the
                                         at it than if the information was buried in   SharePoint 2010 platform.”
                                         thousands of search results.”
                                                                                       Ease of Use
                                         General Mills has also used FAST Search       General Mills also took advantage of
                                         Server 2010 for SharePoint to implement       several ease-of-use features in FAST
                                         people search. When a researcher              Search Server 2010 for SharePoint to
                                         performs a search on the cereal               speed information search. A feature
                                         “Cheerios,” a list of other ITQ researchers   called entity extraction alleviates the
                                         affiliated with that product come up in a     need for researchers to tag all their
                                         separate area of the screen. This enables     documents as they add them to
                                         researchers to quickly find subject matter    SharePoint Server. Instead, FAST Search
                                         experts and reach out to them.                Server 2010 for SharePoint tags the
                                                                                       documents with the appropriate
                                         General Mills has also added a                properties and metadata at the time the
                                         document-type refiner, so researchers         documents are indexed. The General
                                         can search only for PowerPoint                Mills team also used the out-of-the-box
                                         presentations, for example. “Sometimes        Web parts to customize the user
                                         you know that what you are looking for        interface for FAST Search Server 2010 for
                                         is in a PowerPoint presentation or in an      SharePoint, adding photos and graphics
                                         e-mail message. With a document-type          to make search results more intuitive and
                                         refiner, we can search for a topic            engaging.
                                         appearing only in those content types,”
                                         Check says. “With FAST Search, we can         The content processing pipeline in FAST
                                         also preview the entire PowerPoint            Search Server 2010 for SharePoint adds
                                         presentation, which saves a lot of time       structure to unstructured information by
                                         spent opening and closing documents.”         enriching the information that flows
                                                                                       through it. By using the content
                                         With a possible future expansion of           processing pipeline, the ITQ search
                                         SharePoint Server 2010 and FAST Search        application can identify people,
                                         Server 2010 for SharePoint beyond the         companies, locations, e-mail addresses,
                                         ITQ group, the Enterprise Collaboration       and date/time information in a
                                         Platform Team will be able to tune the
                                        document and extract custom metadata         has seen faster and more accurate
                                        based on term lists.                         searches, which yields more time for
                                                                                     innovation and less time wading through
“Effective search … helps               General Mills employees can use the          search results. Because researchers can
us continue to make                     spelling and synonyms features of FAST       do more comprehensive and accurate
                                        Search Server to find information without    searches, they minimize time spent
consistent forward                      coming up with every possible spelling       repeating work done by others. They are
                                        or variation. For example, General Mills     also more apt to perform deeper
progress with our R&D                   refers to Cheerios internally as YBC, so     research when they know that their
strategies.”                            both terms come up in a search for           search efforts will be paid off with
                                        “Cheerios.” A search for “yogurt” will       accurate, meaningful results.
         Michelle Check, Research and   return international spellings, such as
  Development Systems Leader, Global
                                        “yoghurt” and also “Yoplait,” a General      From a development and maintenance
    Knowledge Services, General Mills
                                        Mills yogurt brand. “These are additional    perspective, General Mills was able to
                                        examples of how FAST Search enables us       meet 85 percent of its search needs with
                                        to search in the language of our             the out-of-the-box functionality of FAST
                                        business,” Check says.                       Search Server 2010 for SharePoint and
                                                                                     SharePoint Server 2010 by using its
                                        Because the search engine collapses          existing Microsoft licenses.
                                        duplicate results, it reduces the number
                                        of search results that researchers have to   More Time for Innovation
                                        read through. Researchers can also use       By using FAST Search Server 2010 for
                                        advanced-search options such as “exact       SharePoint, General Mills scientists and
                                        phrase,” “don’t include,” “who modified      researchers can find information faster,
                                        last,” date-range searches, and other        which helps them make faster, better-
                                        delimiters that help narrow search           informed decisions during new-product
                                        results. “I’ve been surprised to see how     development. “Researchers can go to
                                        eagerly our pilot users jumped into these    one place instead of half a dozen to do
                                        advanced searches,” Check says. “All         their research, confidently knowing that
                                        these features are very user-friendly and    they’re combing through all the relevant
                                        easy to figure out.”                         information,” Check says. “It’s critical that
                                                                                     we not waste time reinventing the wheel
                                        General Mills has 150 researchers            and take advantage of every bit of
                                        piloting the ITQ search application          knowledge that we have already created.
                                        during April and May 2010. General Mills     This ultimately helps General Mills
                                        is considering rolling out FAST Search       develop products faster and continue to
                                        Server 2010 for SharePoint                   be first to market with new food product
                                        enterprisewide to provide the same           ideas.”
                                        tunable search capabilities and also to
                                        consolidate the myriad search                General Mills anticipates that its new
                                        technologies currently used across the       search application will yield significant
                                        company.                                     time savings as the solution is adopted
                                                                                     by a growing set of employees. Says
                                        Benefits                                     Check, “By using FAST Search Server
                                        From its pilot use of SharePoint Server      2010 for SharePoint, our researchers can
                                        2010 and FAST Search Server 2010 for         refine their searches and find exactly
                                        SharePoint, the General Mills ITQ group      what they are looking for. They spend
“We have dozens of                        more time innovating than looking for          Also, because there is quite a bit of
                                          information.”                                  internal project rotation in the ITQ
business groups in the                                                                   group, the ability to reference work that
                                          Greater Opportunity to Expand on               others have done is critical in making
company, and they all                     Existing Research                              sure that there is continuity as people
have different search                     The easier it is to find information, the      move between projects.
                                          less time General Mills employees spend
needs…. With FAST                         redoing work that someone else has             When researchers had to perform search
                                          already done. When a researcher is             inquiries in multiple applications and
Search Server 2010 and                    creating a new soup, for example, and          wade through reams of poor results, it
SharePoint Server, we                     trying to understand other General Mills       discouraged them from making the
                                          soups that have contained oregano and          effort in the first place. “We want
can give each group the                   pasta, he or she can consult relevant          researchers to take full advantage of all
                                          documents and experts by using the             the knowledge that the company has
specific results based on                 search application.                            accumulated,” Check says. “With a better
their user context.”                                                                     search capability, researchers have
                                          “The ability to find others who have           greater confidence that their searches
       Jeremiah Werner, Development       worked on certain topics is greatly            will be worth the time, which encourages
   Consultant, Enterprise Collaboration   enhanced by the people-search results in       deeper research. They spend the time
          Platform Team, General Mills
                                          FAST Search Server 2010,” Check says.          documenting their own work more
                                          “Effective search is critical in taking full   diligently, because they see how it will
                                          advantage of what we have done in the          benefit others, and they take the time to
                                          past and building on that in the future. It    search the work of others.”
                                          helps us continue to make consistent
                                          forward progress with our R&D                  Easy to Customize, Low Costs
                                          strategies.”                                   By building its ITQ search application
                                                                                         with SharePoint Server 2010, General
                                          This is especially important as General        Mills was able to build on its IT staff’s
                                          Mills continues to expand globally. “Our       existing knowledge and take full
                                          newer international locations want to          advantage of extensive functionality
                                          take advantage of the tremendous               included SharePoint Server 2010 and
                                          amount of knowledge and experience             FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint.
                                          contained at corporate headquarters,”          “SharePoint Server got us 85 percent of
                                          Hon says. “Much of the work that our           the way there, out of the box, meaning
                                          international staff members are doing          that 85 percent of what we needed to
                                          has already been done. Instead of              build a custom search site was included
                                          starting from scratch, they can take           in the packaged SharePoint Server and
                                          advantage of what others have done in          FAST Search Server product,” Hon says.
                                          setting up new plants and distribution         “Also, because General Mills has a
                                          centers, developing snack products or          Microsoft Enterprise Client Access
                                          frozen foods, setting up human resource        License Suite, we are realizing great
                                          policies, and many other activities.           pricing advantages.”
                                          Conversely, easy people connections will
                                          help researchers at corporate                  General Mills is evaluating the possibility
                                          headquarters take advantage of some of         to extend SharePoint Server 2010 and
                                          the expertise and ideas coming out of          FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint
                                          our international talent pool.”                companywide. “We have dozens of
For More Information                                  business groups in the company, and          Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
For more information about Microsoft                  they all have different search needs,”       Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010 is the
products and services, call the                       Werner says. “Right now, all these groups    business collaboration platform for the
Microsoft Sales Information Center at                 use their own search portals, which          Enterprise and the Internet.
(800) 426-9400. In Canada, call the                   represent a heavy investment and
Microsoft Canada Information Centre                   maintenance burden on the IT staff. With     For more information about Microsoft
at (877) 568-2495. Customers in the                   FAST Search Server 2010 and SharePoint       SharePoint Server 2010, go to:
United States and Canada who are                      Server, we can give each group the 
deaf or hard-of-hearing can reach                     specific results based on their user
Microsoft text telephone (TTY/TDD)                    context.”
services at (800) 892-5234. Outside the
50 United States and Canada, please                   “If we roll out the solution companywide,
contact your local Microsoft subsidiary.              we’ll be able to quickly spin up new
To access information using the World                 search applications for different areas of
Wide Web, go to:                                      the business and give different sets of                                     users the features they need to conduct
                                                      searches that meet their specific
For more information about General                    requirements,” Werner says. “We’ll also
Mills products and services, call (763)               be able to easily customize the user
764-7600 or visit the Web site at:                    interface to meet different business                                  needs, as the Web parts are
                                                      customizable and reusable.”

                                                      Hon concludes, “Our goal is to connect
                                                      people, documents, and communities, so
                                                      that anyone can quickly find out what
                                                      they need to know about anything. Our
                                                      vision is for employees to enter a phrase
                                                      or product name, such as “Cheerios,” and
                                                      find all the past projects that involve
                                                      Cheerios, research underway, product
                                                      specifications, label information,
                                                      nutritional information, and everything
                                                      necessary to become an expert. We
                                                      believe that SharePoint Server 2010 and
                                                      FAST Search Server 2010 for SharePoint
                                                      are the foundation for this vision.”

                                                       Software and Services                       − Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010
                                                          Microsoft Server Product Portfolio
                                                           − Microsoft FAST Search Server 2010
                                                             for SharePoint

This case study is for informational purposes only.

Document published May 2010

Description: General Mills Marketing Research document sample