Tag Archives | enterprise search

The Tricks of the Trade – Enterprise Search

I’ve commented on this before, but the pendulum of enterprise search is moving, in my view, the wrong direction. In an effort to compete, vendors are delivering bells and whistles, that don’t necessarily improve enterprise search, in fact, can degrade the accuracy and relevancy of search to fit the current assumptions of what business users need and want.

At the end of the day, what they want is the ability to find the information they are seeking, in the right context, as quickly as possible. The ability to ‘like’, ‘rank’, ‘action terms’, ‘promoted results’, and automatically return these documents in a higher order has removed accuracy and relevancy from the search game.

Do business users get bogged down in the tricks of the trade so to speak, and therefore become less productive? What do you think of these bells and whistles? Do your business users see them as valuable? Are these features able to deliver high accuracy and relevancy?

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Finding the Yellow Brick Road in Enterprise Search

Just like Dorothy and Toto, following the yellow brick road to productive, accurate, and relevant enterprise search results is fraught with challenges. Unfortunately, there is no wizard at the end of the road that magically solves the problem. Although Dorothy didn’t know that she could have gone home any time she wanted. Maybe it’s the same with enterprise search.

Part of the issue with enterprise search is it is viewed as a stand-alone application. This isn’t true, and education in the marketplace is needed to present ancillary technologies that don’t replace enterprise search engines, but improve them.

There is a difference between human retrieval and machine retrieval. Most of the time, business users cannot necessarily articulate what they are looking for, therefore can’t find it without a lot of effort. The search engine technology is machine driven and takes our searches quite literally and doesn’t know how to interpret what we are really looking for. And then, of course, there is the ambiguity in language which search engines typically don’t understand.

The use of a taxonomy as the backbone, (and if implemented correctly, an enterprise metadata repository) can present information and offer search techniques that are not typically embedded in a search application. This results in a user focused approach as opposed to a machine approach. The business user then has the opportunity to explore topics by the hierarchy in the taxonomy. In this way, it enables them to drill down the specific information, in the context of what they seeking and not necessarily how the search was constructed. This provides human relevance as opposed to machine relevance.

I am curious to know how many of you use a taxonomy, or ancillary tools to improve your enterprise search? If so, what are they and have they improved enterprise search?

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Am I over the hill or is enterprise search not all it’s cracked up to be?

I was reading a study done in 2009, which in this day and age, is like the dark ages. The subject was use of the Internet by different groups of people and their search approaches. Most middle-aged people failed as did those who were not well educated. In fact, both groups failed miserably at the most basic tasks.

What I began to think is about the differences between Internet search – think Google – and Enterprise Search. I think in four years, the ‘general’ population is much more savvy about navigating the Internet, but we continually run into organizations who struggle with their ‘failed’ search improvements. Although very basic, Internet search is not the same as Enterprise search. But I am not sure that’s what the end user expects. As a result search vendors seem to have a growing tendency to emulate the functions of the Googles of the world which do not necessarily equate to productivity within the four walls of the organization. Within the organization, search is a critical function that can impact the bottom line. More relevant and accurate search is no longer a nice to have.

What I have also noticed in speaking with clients, is that vendors, in their push to make Internet search mimic Enterprise search, much of the flexibility has been removed from the business user and the search engine itself is making the decisions about what the business user should find – not what they are necessarily looking for. Again, mimicking the Internet search vendors.

Do you have any thoughts about this? How do you have end users adapt to the difference in Enterprise search in your organization or do you think that Enterprise search should continue to mimic Internet search?

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