By Irwin Lazar, VP and Service Director, Nemertes Research
If you can’t find it, does it exist? For most workers the answer to that question is likely “no” but in reality, the answer may just be that the information hasn’t been properly indexed into the enterprise search engine.
Today’s workers have grown up in a world in which consumer search tools like Bing, Google, and Yahoo are the front-end to the Internet, putting the world’s information at their fingertips. These search tools do a fantastic job indexing information from a variety of different sources including websites, social media, and video and image repositories. But imagine if Internet search was disjointed. If say you had to use one app to search for documents, another to search for people, a third to search for multimedia, and so on. Sadly, that’s often the case within enterprises as search platforms often struggle to provide relevant query responses that include information that’s readily available across a variety of information repositories and applications.
The challenges of enterprise search are twofold: First, an ever-increasing array of applications containing data, and second, an inability of search tools to connect to those information sources. IT leaders we’ve worked with tell us that workers want accurate and relevant results that enable them to find the information they need, wherever it may exist, and that employee use of search tools is often limited by an inability to quickly find relevant, up-to-date, information. Poor search tools create frustration and reduce productivity if they contain old information, or if search results omit potentially useful information because it has not been indexed.
Almost 40% of IT leaders participating in our 2018-19 unified communications and collaboration study say that they plan to invest in improving search over the next two years, focusing on enabling their internal search engines to better return relevant results via expanded indexing and the use of technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence to improve the relevancy of search results.
AI and ML don’t add much value if enterprise data isn’t indexed in the first place. Therefore, search engines themselves must connect to a variety of knowledge sources including document repositories, business applications, and collaboration apps. Connectors to document stores must support not just SharePoint, but other stores like Box, Dropbox, Google, and web portals, as organizations increasingly utilize a variety of repositories for both internal and external collaboration. Connectors should also index content related to training, employee skills, business activities, contact information, and human resources related content such as benefits and forms.
Creating a successful search strategy requires proactive management. We find that those with the highest levels of employee satisfaction with their search capabilities actively monitor not only what people are searching for so they can address terms with few hits, but they also conduct surveys and internal focus groups to enable them to ensure that search capabilities are meeting worker need.
The bottom line is that search is a crucial part of knowledge management. Those who ensure that search engines index all of their repositories, who proactively address employee needs, and who plan for adoption of emerging technologies are best positioned to enable their organizations to use search to speed access to relevant information, improving overall work efficiency.
Irwin Lazar, VP and Service Director, Nemertes Research
At Nemertes Research, Irwin Lazar manages research operations, develops and manages research projects, conducts and analyzes primary research, and advises numerous enterprise and vendor clients. Irwin is responsible for benchmarking the adoption and use of emerging technologies in areas including VOIP, UC, video conferencing, social computing, collaboration, contact center, and customer engagement.
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