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What is Enterprise Search?

Enterprise search is a tool or a collection of tools used to classify and deliver data to an enterprise’s internal users. Large enterprises have more and more data, and without the right search tools, finding the appropriate information can be time-consuming and costly. This is the problem enterprise search tries to solve. In this article, you will learn what are the use cases of enterprise search and how it works.

How does enterprise search work?

It is no secret that successful modern enterprises are all about gathering data. A large organization will have multiple data sources, such as customer relationship management (CRM) systems, enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions, and content management systems (CMS). Add that to an internal wiki site and a plethora of documents shared on network drives, and you get petabytes of data that need to be accessed daily.

The key to efficiently searching this information is to collect all the data in a single data source, index the assets, and enable users to search for the data.

A diagram showing the three main elements of enterprise search.

The three main elements involved in an enterprise search system are

  • Data collection: For an enterprise search to be efficient, it will need access to all the disparate internal data sources available in the enterprise.
  • Data indexing: Data will only be searchable if a good indexing engine is used.
  • Searching data: Ultimately, users will need to have an intuitive way to search and access given data.

Enterprise search system components

An enterprise search system needs the following three components to cover data collection, indexing, and searching.

  • Data: This is the raw material for any enterprise search. A search engine’s quality will only be as good as the data it can provide. To gather all the data from an enterprise, you might need some connectors to extract all the data from the different sources and then store it into a central database. Storage strategies such as data lakes can also be helpful to store unstructured data.

  • Engine: The search engine is the brains behind any search tool. The engine’s job is to categorize, index, rank, and deliver any data related to queries the users might have. Without a search engine optimized for large data sets and full-text search capabilities, your users will have a hard time finding relevant information.

  • Front end: Finally, the users will need access to a place to search and retrieve the data they need. The front end will need to communicate with the search engine and return the relevant resources to the end-user. A search engine that provides a good developer experience will make it easier and faster for software engineers to build a front end for an enterprise search solution.

How often have you searched for a file for which you didn’t remember the name in a shared drive? This task can be time-consuming at best and yield no results in the worst case.

Having a sound enterprise search system in place has many business benefits.

  • Increased productivity: Spending less time searching means more time for value-added work.

  • More relevant search results delivered: Modern search engines provide many options to refine the search results and improve findability.

  • Increased profitability: Finding accurate results decreases the risk of duplicating efforts.

  • Better customer satisfaction: Customers don’t like to wait or repeat information. When a customer calls for information, being able to quickly answer any questions provides them with a better experience.

  • Lowered storage costs: Having all the information in a centralized location makes it easier to maintain this data source and archive outdated information.

Enterprise search has multiple use cases in the modern business.

  • Intranet searches: Many enterprises have large intranets with dedicated spaces for every department. Search engines can help make sense of the information and return more relevant results.

  • Documents and drives: Being able to search unstructured data gives you the ability to search for content inside of files rather than only relying on the name of a file or folder.

  • Internal contact directory: Finding an email address or a phone number is made easier. In addition to searching the name of a contact, searching by expertise or job description can help find internal experts.

  • Talent pool: The perfect fit for a new job opening might be someone who applied to another position in the past. Enterprise searches can help search for older content as well as newly added information.

As you think about implementing an enterprise search solution, you must consider some of the critical features necessary to provide quick and relevant results to your end-users.

  • Multiple data sources: Your data will come from numerous sources and in various formats. A centralized database that supports both structured and unstructured data is essential to containing this information.

  • Fuzzy searching and synonyms: Users don’t always have the perfect search term. Sometimes, they spell it out phonetically or use an acronym rather than the whole word. Having a search engine that supports those features is a must.

  • Custom scoring: To ensure the best results at any given time, you will need to prioritize specific sources of information or promote more recent content.

  • Auto-completion: Users are used to a particular search experience, and auto-completion is an expected feature. Good search engines will provide suggestions to the UI as the users are typing to help them refine their search as they go.

Summary

Having a good enterprise search in place will provide you with many benefits. Your employees will perform better in their day-to-day job, your customers will be impressed with your ability to find relevant information, and your stakeholders will be happy to see the productivity and profitability gains.

FAQ

What is an enterprise search platform?

An enterprise search platform is a tool that collects data from multiple sources, indexes that information, and provides a search interface for internal users to find the desired information.

Searching through all the different data sources can be tedious and difficult to do properly. It leads to loss of productivity and is prone to errors. Having an enterprise search platform helps internal users find the correct information rapidly.

What are the use cases of enterprise search engines?

The most common use case of enterprise search is the search engine for an intranet that lets users search an extensive knowledge base.

Enterprise search is a tool or a collection of tools used to classify and deliver data to an enterprise's internal users. Large enterprises have more and more disparate data sets, and without the right search tools, finding the appropriate information can be time-consuming and costly.