Evolving Search-Driven Intranets and Portals
Today’s intranets and portals are the hub for enterprise information, and organizations looking to offer their employees effective tools and a good intranet experience use search to drive them. However, too often search falls short.
While internet search has evolved rapidly, enterprise search has not. Internet search has gone from being a keyword-driven catchall to a set of focused applications that provide relevant information, with refinement options for the user to get to the information they need quickly. This experience sets the bar for enterprise search and for search-driven Intranets and Portals. Many refer to it as a “Google like” experience. This often leads enterprises into thinking that their focus should be the search engine, and they go through the process of replacing search engines to solve their enterprise search problems. Many enterprises have replaced search engines multiple times and are trapped in what we call the “search immaturity cycle”.
In reality, the key to success lies not in switching search engines, but in addressing a few key attributes in intranet, portal, and enterprise search implementations. Google’s internet search, with thousands of engineers and a multi-billion dollar revenue stream behind it, is neither achievable nor in fact appropriate inside the enterprise.
However, the key attributes of success in internet search do apply to search-driven intranets and portals:
1Internet applications are targeted implementations of search with a specific set of business drivers behind them. There are multiple applications, which may be used directly or found through a universal search. Intranet implementations can benefit by taking the same approach – multiple targeted applications.
2Not everything is indexed on the internet. In fact, depending on the search engine, the numbers range from between 1.2% and 5.6% of all content.
3The content is tagged. On the internet, content owners must tag their content, and search engine optimization (SEO) is a large, thriving industry. For intranets and enterprise search, auto classification technology is used to address the tagging issue.
4Authoritative sources (such as Wikipedia) are prioritized to provide meaningful results.
5They invest thousands of hours each day in relevancy tuning.
Enterprise Search Best Practices
Our analysis of Google and other leading consumer search applications has led us to identify a simple set of Best Practices to significantly improve the chances of a successful Enterprise Search implementation:
- Have a plan that incorporates meaningful business drivers.
- Follow the 'pillars' of search:
- Connectivity: Like internet search engines, you do not need to index everything. Work with your users to identify authoritative sources of content and connect your intranet to them.
- Tagging:Invest in technology to automatically tag content. In the Enterprise search world, “your search is only as good as your tags”.
- User Experience:Offer productivity capabilities such as refinement, preview of documents, creation of workspaces, ability to define topic-driven search pages to help with the user experience.
This approach offers businesses a rapid, low risk way to eliminate some of the peskiest and most common information systems challenges such as siloed data, poor relevancy, haphazard or missing metadata, and low user satisfaction.