Finding the Yellow Brick Road in Enterprise Search

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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?