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How many times have you heard that said?  If I had a pound for every time an intranet manager quoted their users saying this – I’d be a rich woman…

But what makes enterpise search such a challange?

A recent report by KMWorld describes some of this challange as…

"Unlike Web search, enterprise search makes different demands on an information access platform: for better accuracy;security; more formats; more reporting tools; more language understanding; and better interaction design."

From Best Practices in Enterpise Search

Users want it like ‘Google’ – but they want it to cover everything that might be stored in the enteprise, whatever the format, they want the results to provide the most relevant and up to date results first (and it probably wasn’t indexed very well in the first place!).

At IBF we’re currently looking at the biggest ‘pain points’ for our members in the area of search in readiness for our Qtr4 member meetings.  One mentioned frequently is…

Management Buy-In

One consistent challenge seems to be that the ‘management’ (or budget holder) doesn’t buy into the notion that search is an iterative process. A common refrain is (guess what) “We implemented Google. Are we there yet?”

  • How do we dispel the myth that plugging in tool solves all search woes?
  • What are the best metrics to manage/monitor search quality and satisfaction?
  • Now that we’ve got [insert search engine], what should we do to deliver high performing intranet search? (i.e., quality, efficiency, findability, etc.)
  • Now answer the question on a must-do basis – where and why do we need ongoing resource in this area?
  • How do you achieve management buy in to resource this? 

On this last point, Martin White, an industry recognised expert and author in this area suggests the size of the team that should be in place behind GOOD search…

"But the hard work only really begins once the search software has been implemented. On a regular basis search logs have to be analysed…. In larger organisations there may be 10,000 searches a day there may need to be a team of three or four people working behind the scenes"

How many organisations really take resourcing search that seriously? Yet search is often the most frequent complaint from users

For more on this, Martin’s book on Making Search Work is a highly recommended read

More pain points next week…

About the author

Nancy Goebel - DWG's Managing Director for Member & Benchmarking ServicesNancy Goebel is DWG’s Managing Director for Member Services. In addition to heading up service delivery, she is responsible for member engagement, retention and growth. Nancy also sits on DWG’s Board of Directors.

Prior to joining the Digital Workplace Group, Nancy was a accomplished executive at JPMorgan Chase where she built and led a global team in desigining and implementing an award-winning intranet. She also led digital enablement and business re-engineering initiatives.

Outside work, Nancy is a wine maker, fundraiser, meditator, wife and mother of two.

Connect with Nancy on Twitter: @nancyatdwg or on Google +.

3 Comments

  1. In Maersk, we actually did get the management buy-in to install Google Search Appliance on the AP Moller – Maersk intranet, in the absense, of a good built-in search engine (SharePoint 2003 search was in shambles).
    We have also, now some 1½ years later, decided to decommission Google Search engine, despite its immense popularity.
    Continous licence costs to keep the Google device running along with double administration of having two search engines just did not prove efficient – nor good intranet practise.
    The call to decommission Google on our intranet (hosting approx 60K users) was made on the fact that we migrated to MOSS2007, where the built-in search engine from Microsoft proved just as good and even faster on our installation.
    Installing Google, did teach us a couple of vital lessons that we brought into the migration to MOSS and the built-in search engine. The brand of Google is probably the most grateful one to implement. Adoption from users was immediate and change management virtually nill. It was, however, the continuous ‘massage’ of the search engine that proved for us to be the key point in good intranet search. The turning point came with the recognition that configuring what should be exempt from search results, while also implementing a structured work-process of managing Key Matches / Best bets via a dedicated resource and with a clear governance on who is allowed to approve ‘best bets’.
    The next step on this eternal path for optimizing search is that Maersk now has a dedicated person with the back-ground of a librarian assigned 1-2 days a week to crunch the search stats and to ‘massage’ the global needs for intranet search across our organisation.

  2. Google is getting better all the time and the latest release offers much better security management etc. The issue with Google is more about customer support. There is no Google customer support team that can camp out in your office for a day or so. There is an email box but this is far from ideal. The reason for me saying this is that search applications are very difficult to support because the quality of the search and the issues that arise are very specific to the implementation. This is especially the case with information quality and consistency. The dialogue that needs to take place to identify the root cause of a search problem just takes too long by email. Many vendors can carry out diagnostic checks through a remote virtual desktop and that can be very helpful to both the vendor and the customer.
    I continue to be amazed at the queries posted on http://groups.google.com/group/google-search-appliance?hl=en which is the Google group for the enterprise Google appliance. Many are very basic indeed and may well be covered by the increasingly wide range of documentation that Google provides.
    The basic problem is that enterprise search is difficult, for all sorts of technical and organisational reasons. If you want some indication of why then read http://mathdl.maa.org/mathDL/4/?pa=content&sa=viewDocument&nodeId=636&pf=1 which is a summary of the some of the mathematics behind search. There is also a very good blog from Stephen Arnold at http://arnoldit.com/wordpress/. Stephen and I are currently writing a report on enterprise search implementation that should be published by the time of the Online Information conference on 2-4 December. This is written at a more technical level than my Making Search Work book that Helen referred to above.

  3. Interesting post and rings very true. It doesn’t matter how “advanced” the search technology is, the end user still has the expectation that putting 2 words in and clicking a button will give them what they want. We’ll never get away from this fact – nobody is ever going to click on the “advanced search” button are they?
    At blueKiwi software, we decided to address this on our intranet by making use of navigated/facted search. This allows an end user to type in their simple query, but then refine their search options by navigating (by clicking on author, tags, channels, communities etc.) which actually is doing an advanced search in the background, the end user just doesn’t know or care. Once they’ve found a result, they can subscribe to it, so that they can be alerted in the future when similar information is posted.
    It’s a bit like searching on amazon for “war” and then being able to refine it based on what you’re looking for (books, DVDs, electronics etc.) – in my opinion this is a great way of masking search complexity from the end user.

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