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12 Tips for Enterprise Search Success

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At the Enterprise Search 2012 conference in October, Martin White, Managing Director of Intranet Focus Ltd. and author of the new book, Enterprise Search, from O'Reilly Media, took part in a session on planning for the future of search.

In that session, Mr. White shared some insights from Enterprise Search, which is just being released.

Here are his "12 Critical Success Factors" for enterprise search now and for the future.

  1. Invest in a search support team: Before you do anything else set up a search support team with the skills, enthusiasm, organizational knowledge and networks to get the best of the current search application(s).Even if the team is initially a team of one put the budget, headcount and job descriptions in place so that it can grow ahead of the requirements for support.
  2. Get the best out of the current investment in search: There is usually much that can be done to improve the current search applications once the search team and the search vendor focus in on options and priorities. The information gained from search log files is a very important element of defining search requirements and setting benchmarks for any new search application.
  3. Enterprise search is an approach and not a technology: Implementing one single all-encompassing search application is unlikely to be successful and usually carries more risks than benefits. Enterprise search is about creating a managed search environment that enables employees to find the information they need to achieve organizational and/or personal objectives.
  4. Set search within an information management context: If the organization does not see information as a business asset it will never invest enough into search and is very susceptible to competitive and reputation risks. An information management strategy owned by a senior manager is an essential prerequisite to successful search.
  5. Content quality is essential for quality search: Current search technology can cope with poor quality content but there should be guidelines for content and metadata quality. It is of little benefit to the organization if a search lists twenty relevant documents with a content quality that renders them unfit to be trusted.
  6. Understand user requirements and monitor user satisfaction: Relevance is a personal measure of information value. Basing a business case on anecdotal information about the current search application and what other organizations have achieved with a particular piece of technology is not a suitable basis for an investment decision.It could be your career prospects that suffer.
  7. Search then browse then alert then search then alert.....: Users need to be able to search when needed, browse when needed and set up alerts as needed. These three processes need to be linked together to provide an effective information discovery environment.
  8. Provide location-independent search: The search application should be as effective via remote access desktops, smartphones and tablets as it is on a large screen monitor in the IT department. Not all search vendors have recognized the need for innovation in user interfaces for mobile devices.
  9. Undertake intelligent log analysis: Search log analysis needs to be conducted on a regular basis by a team that understands the activities and language of the business so that emerging issues in search failure can be identified at the earliest possible opportunity.
  10. Search is a dialogue: Aiming to get the most relevant documents at the top of the search results list is a waste of effort. In an enterprise environment users will have complex queries that require them to be able to refine their query and re-evaluate the results with the minimum of effort.
  11. Procure value not functionality: When the time comes to invest in a new search application specify requirements on what you expect the search application to deliver and not on what features you would like to have supplied.
  12. Search is a journey: The process of ensuring that search is meeting user requirements never comes to an end. Every day there are new employees, new business challenges, new business opportunities and new developments in search technology.

To download the full slides from Martin White's presentation (and many others), visit our presentation page at enterprisesearchsummit.com.

Book Details

Title: Enterprise Search

By: Martin White

Publisher: O'Reilly Media

Available in Print and Ebook

Pub Date: November 2012

Pages: 192

Print ISBN: 978-1-4493-3044-6 | ISBN 10: 1-4493-3044-4

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4493-3039-2 | ISBN 10: 1-4493-3039-8

Buy it now at O'Reilly or Amazon

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