Key elements of Enterprise Search

Enterprise search provides improved visibility across diverse data sources and applications, structured and unstructured content, and accelerates business processes. Enterprise search technology is growing in importance as corporate repositories and intranets grow in size and complexity.

Enterprise search provides improved visibility across diverse data sources and applications, structured and unstructured content, and accelerates business processes. Enterprise search technology is growing in importance as corporate repositories and intranets grow in size and complexity.

Effective enterprise search is now required to allow users to convert distributed pieces of information into operational advantage. Search technology makes information more accessible, but it can also quickly expose underlying deficiencies in how organizations manage sensitive content.

Here is some key elements of an Enterprise Search project which must be addressed:

  1. Federation
  2. Comprehensivenes
  3. Relevance
  4. Security and access control
  5. Scale and scope
  6. Results presentation and usability

enterprise_search_iceberg1. Federation

One of the primary benefits of enterprise search is search consolidation. The search needs to reach each enterprise repository and index its content, so that a user can search one, some, or all enterprise content through a single search.

Federated search can be quite complicated, requiring capabilities such as advanced authentication, ranking of relevance across multiple repositories, and disaggregation of results from repositories with unique content.

2. Comprehensiveness
In addition to content location, search must be able to index critical content types. This includes files in file systems, documents and content management systems, structured data in databases – even business data in business applications. Specific file types to index include text files, databases, desktop applications output, voice, video, compressed files, etc…

3. Relevance
Relevance measures how closely search results match user expectations. A search with high relevance will successfully return the documents the user intended when specifying the search term. Enterprise content also can have unique meanings for terms that vary from division to division, or even person to person. So, a search must also be tunable – to ensure that the right results reach the user first.

4. Security and access control
It is not the role of enterprise search to set control access policies but search must ensure that its activities enforce those policies to ensure corporate security and the privacy of individuals. It must integrate with each repository’s authentication scheme. To ensure security, you must control access not only to source documents but also to the search index that centralizes and summarizes them. Otherwise, search can become a weak link in your IT security chain.

5. Scale and scope
Be prepared for the scope of your enterprise search problem to grow, and for more uses and users to surface. This issue also relates to scale – an enterprise search solution must be able to scale to the needs of your enterprise. If it cannot, your desire to create a unified search will be replaced with the cost of supporting multiple redundant searches.

6. Results presentation and usability
It is the visible part of the iceberg search solution. The interface is key to the solution acceptance, and should be adapted to the enterprise culture. The presentation is also the results of many other functionalities such as ranking algorithms, results duplication management, indexing, authorization, etc…
The usability of such a multi-faceted search is critical and its design should involve the appropriate audience.

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About the author

Eric Borboen
Eric Borboen