The challenge of user-friendliness in Enterprise Search
Google is synonymous with search, but enterprise search is a different story altogether. Unlike web search, which applies search technology to elements on the open web, and desktop search, which searches through a single computer, enterprise search digs through internal databases and intranets, a far more complicated task. Web searches are often general and it is possible to get a few reliable sources that give the same answer. Someone who searches Google with the question “who played Han Solo in Star Wars” would find the top three answers from IMDB, Wikipedia, and StarWars.com identical and reliable. But internal searches at companies function quite differently. Most likely an internal search is for one specific document, and general searches (like those performed on the web) are not productive. Many employees are surprised to find that searches for internal documents are much different from searches they perform on the web. Some expect a system that functions more like a web search and are astonished to find a convoluted process for document retrieval. Companies choose to invest in quality enterprise search software because it brings more functionality to internal searches (something employees are used to in web searches) making a very complex system more user-friendly.
Relevancy through search relevancy
Search relevancy refers to searches delivering accurate results to users. Search relevancy is why many companies choose to purchase enterprise search programs, saving them money in the long run, particularly in labor costs. Employees who search for specific documents from clients are often met with two common search relevancy problems. The first problem is the search returns too many choices (false positives), which stem from the search being too general. Sifting through all these documents is very time consuming, and in extreme cases, impossible. The second problem is a search produces no results at all, usually stemming from a query the company search program could not accommodate. A 2013 study on internal searches conducted in the U.S. and U.K. found searching for documents in the workplace wastes time because of relevancy issues like these. It found in the upper third of respondents, 25 minutes on average were wasted during searches for just one document. A dismal 20% of respondents had successful searches on their first attempt. Enterprise search programs have the potential to save companies money in labor costs by attaining more search relevancy.
Security concerns make internal search much more challenging. Naturally, companies want to keep their information secure but this effort often makes it difficult to retrieve a document. Enterprise search has the capacity to centralize and index information and make it searchable by employees, according to their information privileges. Storage is kept under the control of the company on their central network and the information stored is encrypted.
The same internal search survey cited above found that remote searches were difficult because of security concerns. 46% of respondents working remotely said they needed access to the internal network throughout the entire day to perform effectively. Shockingly, half of these respondents said they were unable to access the network because of security concerns. The modern workplace demands a search system that can be accessed securely, even when employees are working remotely. Many enterprise search programs have the capacity to provide remote employees more access to a secure internal network, significantly increasing productivity.
Information sharing between employees
Collaboration is central to effective work within companies and most businesses prefer to assign projects to teams rather than individuals. Working effectively as a team is very important for quality work and a well-informed team can deliver better results. Past projects and company information are helpful when tackling difficult new assignments. Each team member has different sets of knowledge and experiences and having a system in place that allows those team members to independently obtain the knowledge they need for the project maximizes education efficiency. This also frees up the team leader so they don’t have to track down important documents or explain key points of the project to different individuals. Enterprise search programs increase the amount of information employees have access to and create a social information environment where companies can build on lessons learned in the past.
Indexing and the future of company information
Unindexed files can make an employee’s search for a document significantly more time consuming. Even if a search for, for example, client information is successful and the file is found, the document the employee is looking for needs to be found within the client’s file. Unfortunately, some clients’ files contain thousands of documents. If the document is not indexed properly then further searching needs to be performed, wasting valuable company time. Most companies have rules that outline how a document needs to be indexed, but this manual indexing approach is time consuming and often overlooked or ignored by busy employees. Enterprise search programs automatically index files and save companies money in labor costs.
Enterprise search looks through stored indexed files and gives results that match the source document referenced. Most enterprise search systems show the document searched as it was indexed. Indexed content can be searched for across many platforms and considers many types of documents, something a normal search cannot do. Enterprise search merges results from different databases and presents them in a concise and amalgamated arrangement with minimal doubling, minimizing the labor costs associated with searches. Knowledge is a corporate asset and with enterprise search company information is better able to be utilized by future employees, improving a company’s performance in the long run.