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Mastering a Key Challenge of Enterprise Search
Put Structured Data at Employees’ Fingertips

This article is part of the Best Practices White Paper Enterprise Search [May 2008]
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As the pace of business accelerates, rapid access to the right facts and figures is becoming more important than ever. Today’s information workers expect their enterprise search solutions not only to be powerful, but also to provide the same ease of use as familiar Internet search engines. And when it comes to tracking down unstructured data, there are plenty tools out there that fit the bill.

However, a wealth of information also resides in business applications—such as enterprise resource planning, customer relationship management, business intelligence and supply chain management software. But all too often, these potentially valuable resources remain untapped. The problem: many occasional users lack the specialized skills needed to locate and act on data in back-end systems. The result: employee frustration, lower productivity and sluggish decision making.

To master these challenges, businesses need a powerful tool that gives all users straightforward, secure access to structured data residing in enterprise applications—enabling them to quickly find precisely the details they need for the task at hand.

A truly effective enterprise search solution not only has to allow employees to quickly and easily pinpoint the right data; it should also open up new ways for people to interact with the valuable business content stored in back-end systems.

Challenges Facing Information Workers
So what kind of tasks do real-world users face in their day-to-day-work? The following are just a few examples of the questions faced by information workers:

  • When I have to change a sales order, how do I locate the relevant order, and the back-end transaction required to change it?
  • Where can I find last quarter’s sales figures for our best customer? And how can I see exactly what they purchased from us?
  • If a client requests additional credit, how can I get information on his or her current outstanding balances?
  • How can I find out what kind of complaints we’ve had recently about our top 10 products?
  • Where can I discover if we rejected material supplied by one of our vendors due to poor quality during the last 12 months?
  • How can I call up the current status of my travel expenses claims?

Search is the Solution
To provide users with the answers to these and other questions, enterprises need search software that is tightly integrated with the business applications in which the relevant data is stored.

More specifically, enterprise search solutions have to incorporate profound expertise in the following three areas:

  • User roles. Unlike on the Web, information workers have specific roles within their enterprise and its business software. An effective search solution has to be able to leverage these roles and the relevant business context so that employees can run queries tailored to their very specific needs.
  • Interrelationships between business objects. A search solution has to take into account how the business objects within enterprise applications are related to each other. It should "know," for example, that sales orders are associated with customers, and purchase orders with vendors. What’s more, the software should leverage these relationships to intelligently propose related actions alongside the user’s hit list. So if a user queries a customer name, the solution should provide additional links to the back-end system—enabling the employee to complete associated tasks, such as creating, changing or deleting sales orders. 
  • Security. Because a great deal of information within enterprises is of a confidential nature, the software has to ensure searches are secure, and that staff only see what they are authorized to see. This is only possible if the solution developers have a firm grasp of the underlying business applications’ security model.

Only enterprise application vendors have the knowledge and skills needed to fulfill these requirements. They are therefore uniquely positioned to support searches for structured data residing in their applications—after all, who knows business applications better than the companies that develop them?

For these reasons, search solutions delivered by enterprise software vendors like SAP can give enterprises the expert support needed to make the most of valuable data stored in their business software.

SAP NetWeaver Enterprise Search
SAP is the world’s largest business software company. Delivering on its commitment to empowering information workers, SAP has created SAP NetWeaverEnterprise Search. This cutting-edge solution provides informationworkers with straightforward access to data they need for theirday-to-day tasks—particularly if this resides in SAP businessapplications. By leveraging the security mechanisms of SAP enterpriseapplications, the software ensures sensitive corporate data can only beviewed by authorized users. SAP NetWeaver Enterprise Search givesemployees powerful functionality at the click of a button—improvingdecision
making, while saving time and money.


Founded in 1972 as Systems Applications and Products in Data Processing, SAP is a leading provider of business software. SAP delivers products and services that help accelerate business innovation for its customers. Today, more than 46,100 customers in more than 120 countries run SAP applications, from distinct solutions addressing the needs of small businesses and midsize companies to suite offerings for global organizations. SAP currently employs more than 43,800 people in more than 50 countries worldwide. SAP is listed on several exchanges, including the Frankfurt Stock Exchange and NYSE under the symbol "SAP." To find out more, visit www.sap.com


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