According to AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management), the definition of enterprise search is: “The practice of identifying and enabling specific content across the enterprise to be indexed, searched, and displayed to authorized users.”
There are two approaches to an enterprise search project:
- Large enterprise search initiative
- Series of small baby steps or projects
The larger, enterprise-wide initiatives run the risk of “boiling the ocean” and trying to do too much too soon. So, if this is the desired approach, then it must be well defined, phased, and include strong project management oversight.
In the last year that I have been at BA Insight, I have been associated with a number of projects in which we have supported both implementation approaches. Of course, the approach depends on a variety of factors including business drivers, budget, and resource availability.
As an example, I am currently working with a Fortune 500 customer that has an overall strategy to improve enterprise-wide search. However, they have decided to start small and build up. Their first step is an enterprise system integration project in which their immediate requirement is to integrate an enterprise content management system with SharePoint. The strategy is to do this by using one of BA Insight’s connectors to integrate the information from their enterprise system into SharePoint’s search index for a discreet number of users.
The project team for this company sees the advantages of secure connectivity to a mission critical system. This “baby step” provides a clear value for a specific group of users, decreases risk, provides a faster time to success, and incurs lower upfront costs. A quick win will also enable the project team to get feedback from users as they continue to work on the overall enterprise search strategy while at the same time showing positive results to their management team.
This described customer implementation begins soon, and I will update you on the results of the project in due time. Once this project is completed, my client’s next search project is to connect SharePoint to another enterprise system. Also, in early 2019, providing a mobile-ready and robust user interface is the next planned stage of their enterprise search implementation strategy. As I prefaced earlier- Baby Steps. Although, if the business reasons are there, then this could have been a phase of a larger implementation as well.
Additionally, there is a lot of talk about the impact that Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning can and will have on enterprise search. However, without taking the initial step of providing secure connectivity to critical systems, or as some of our customers call them “authoritative sources”, then these technologies will have minimal impact. If the information is not available to your search portal, then AI or Natural Language Query won’t be able to make the information available to your users. In my opinion, connectivity is the first critical path to success and other technologies are a value add to it.