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Celera Systems: Optimizing Literature Fulfillment in Financial Services

BACKGROUND

Celera Systems, an IT solutions company based in the Midwest, is a recognized innovator in information technology solutions for major financial services companies. Celera provides comprehensive products and professional services to this market, including a literature fulfillment platform called MerrillConnect, which is used by some of the nation's largest insurance companies. Celera provides the search and verification software that allows MerrillConnect to efficiently and accurately fulfill customer requests for documents.

CHALLENGES

  • The distribution of documents is typically subject to legal regulations, so document-level security is critical. MerrillConnect must provide an accurate fulfillment solution that ensures the right product materials are displayed and delivered based on a user’s query and profile.
  • Ease and efficiency of use is critical. The solution is used by a variety of busy professionals who must respond to their customers’ requests quickly, and accurately
  • Ability to handle both electronic documents and hard copy only
  • Support the use of “sales notes” from the originator’s marketing team

SOLUTION

Celera turned to Search Technologies’ Search Application Assessment service, as part of a program to update and enhance this offering. This is a fixed price service that delivers a detailed report, and clear recommendations on search application design, implementation, and improvement. The Assessment Service can be used when a search software license is already in place, or when the customer is looking for guidance on search product choice, including the applicability of open source alternatives.

Following the initial assessment, Celera Systems, along with one of their largest customers, agreed to a recommendation for the Google Search Appliance (GSA), as a match for their requirements for fast, accurate search, and solid document-level security. Other recommendations included:

Creation of a Data Model Design (“DMD”): The DMD is a reference document for the enrichment and normalization of data attributes. The DMD guides content preprocessing strategy, prior to indexing, and ensures that user features which rely on metadata can be delivered.

An integration between the existing security service and the GSA: The previous search function for MerrillConnect took advantage of an authentication server. Search Technologies worked with Celera to utilize the GSA’s forms-based authentication capabilities, and integrate with this security service.

Handle numeric searches specific to financial documents: Many financial documents have identifying numbers, as well as a high percentage of numbers within their main body content. Support for substring numeric search was added to the solution through query parsing, before submission of the query to the GSA.

Collaboration on UI design: Celera implemented the new user interface, with input from Search Technologies’ engineering team.

Improve relevancy based on ordering patterns: In many search uses cases, it is important to know which document or product was ordered most frequently and incorporate this frequency into relevancy rankings. Historical data from the operational order fulfillment database was used to populate a metatag describing the order frequency ranking for each document. This was used to drive GSA’s result biasing to boost the scoring of the most frequently ordered documents.  According to Gary Mardik, Director of Business Development, “The use of this feature is key to our ability to provide our clients with the results they’re looking for.”

BENEFITS

As a result of this project, Celera has a solution which:

  • Is based on one of the leading search engines
  • Continues to fully support the document security to the required level
  • Greatly improves relevancy, reliably providing the best documents at the top of the first page of results
  • Has an improved user interface, based on the latest search user experience principles
  • Provides a more powerful, and supportable search platform for the MerrillConnect fulfillment solution
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