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Enterprise Search is a Contact Sport

4 minute read
Miles Kehoe avatar

How many people are involved in the day-to-day management of you enterprise search platform? 

If you’re like more than half of the respondents to the 2015 Enterprise Search and Findability Survey (registration), you have less than one full time engineer responsible for the ongoing management and maintenance of you enterprise search instances. Yet the same survey states that “the vast majority of organisations (84 percent) continue to agree that improving the ability to find the right information is a ‘important or very important task.’”

Findwise also found that nearly 30 percent of survey respondents plan on replacing their existing enterprise search platform in less than three years. Do you have any other enterprise software you rip and replace every 36 months? Heck, I’ve seen it take a year to evaluate and benchmark vendors and products, test a solution and roll it into production. A two-year productive life for any enterprise software is ridiculous.

Yet We Keep Doing It

So we have a technology that virtually everyone in the organization agrees is critical, yet it is staffed with fewer people than most organizations have running the on-site copy center.

Think about this: How many people are actively involved in your public-facing 'Search Engine Optimization' program to improve your public web site placement? Chances are you have a reasonably large internal team, or retain an external professional services organization, to make sure your company and products perform well on Google, Bing and the other pubic search giants. I’d bet your enterprise search budget that it’s more than one person. In fact, it may cost more than your entire enterprise search budget!

Learning Opportunities

How Did We Get Here?

From my years working in enterprise search, one of the problems we have is that any search is better than no search. Simply being able to find anything was once a major miracle. And even though Google and the other public search sites worldwide are not enterprise search, the results on those sites are generally so good that we've come to anticipate search technology that "just knows what I want." We don’t see the thousands of agents and processes running behind the scenes analyzing both your queries and your content to produce great relevant results.

The Solution: Contact!

The steps to fix your internal engine woes are easy if you’re ready to make the change. Get involved. If you are that one lonely search person, you need to become engaged in the process. Start your own marketing plan.

  • Find and attend search conferences. The annual Enterprise Search Summit in Washington, DC is a good place to start.
  • Find a consulting company that has an enterprise search practice which partners with a number of different search technologies and companies. They can help you identify the problems and solutions, and even help with the justification and eventual implementation.
  • There is help on the web. Sites like Stack Overflow and Quora are good places to ask questions. The LinkedIn Enterprise Search Engine Professionals group, which I help moderate, is another.

The good news is that while each search platform, open source or commercial, may have its own sweet spot, you can improve just about any enterprise search technology to be a pretty decent solution for the average enterprise. If you can convince the powers that be that spending a few dollars to fix what you have today will save more money over the next few years, you may have a chance. 

If not? It may be time to join the SEO team.

For More Information:

Creative Commons Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License Title image by  ANGELOUX 

About the author

Miles Kehoe

Miles Kehoe is founder of New Idea Engineering, a vendor neutral consultancy focused on enterprise search, analytics and big data. In addition to New Idea Engineering, he has also worked at searchvendors Verity, Fulcrum Technologies, and most recently at Lucidworks.