Too often enterprise search focuses on finding relevant documents instead of the information contained within.
People Want Information, Not the Documents that Contain It
So often the focus on search is about finding relevant documents. It should be about finding relevant information, not the 200 page internal reports where the information is hidden in a maze of words.
You would expect subject matter searching to top the list, but perhaps not searching for people, which includes expertise. All too often we find companies fail to pay enough attention to people search.
As you look down this list it should become apparent that each of these information areas will require a different approach to query management and performance evaluation.
Take services and tools as one example, again an area often not given enough attention. Look at your search logs with care and you may be surprised at how many are for applications which are not immediately visible in an intranet or services catalogue, often because they are in an A-Z list and the names may not indicate the service offering.
In the case of applications, people do not want a list of 100 or more related documents, but to get straight to the application and complete a task. This may require a very different way of presenting the application link on the results page.
Finding What’s On the Outside
All enterprise search applications share a problem: they do not provide effective access to external information, in spite of the demand for information on customers, industries, markets, competitors and suppliers and partners.
Although these appear down the list in percentage order to small groups of employees in customer management or procurement, they are very important. For these people, bringing together information from a range of different internal and external sources into a search card can provide immense value.
Some professional services companies (PwC in the UK for example) provide search cards that when a client (or potential client) calls, the employee receives all the required information in the time it takes to have a typically UK conversation about the weather.
Enterprise Search is a Program, Not a Project
Just identifying a few power users for each of these 13 search themes as an ad hoc sounding board for requirements and solutions could make a substantial difference to people making business-critical decisions. However even this seemingly simple process could take a lot of time in a global organizations, especially where the processes may vary between North America, Europe and other major geographies.
Search development has to be a program of a series of projects. As one project comes to completion, many more will be queued up for attention. A search Center of Excellence then becomes the de facto Program Office, with the responsibility for enterprise search strategy implementation