The future of search 2014-2015

Experts reveal top priorities for organisations wanting to make the most of their information assets with enterprise search and corporate intranets.

Systematic evaluation, targeted applications and content enrichment are among the top priorities for organisations wanting to make the most of their information assets, according to a panel of experts speaking at the close of last month’s Enterprise Search Europe. 

Conference Chair Martin White asked the panel to describe the two or three priorities which they felt organisations should be focusing on the now, and for the next year or so.

Elaine Toms, Professor of Information Science at the University of Sheffield noted that she had heard plenty of talk about 'search is bad, and needs fixing' – but pointed out that it is important to know what you’re fixing, and why. Tuning arbitrarily can be a mistake. Evaluation is clearly important, but it makes sense to be systematic in your evaluation processes. Again, ask yourself what the evaluation is for, and work out what criteria and benchmarks you will be using.

The future is targeted applications, according to Jeff Fried, CTO of BA Insight. "Approach your intranet  not as one big index, but as a portal for other specialised things such as tools, components and applets". Content enrichment, including the incorporation of purchased content, was also vital, according to Fried. "Mix your content with other content to make it better."

Valentin Richter, CEO and founder of Raytion focused on the individuals within organisations who are charged with making enterprise search work. "Make sure that you have a search team" was his advice, and he also noted that executive support was key for success.

Delegates were keen to know how to create change in individuals, and also at organisational level, in order to make enterprise search more effective, and improve usage and user experience. Elaine Toms suggested two approaches – either making things different in small steps, "one pixel at a time", or alternatively embedding search in the application – in effect, replacing Google with many little task specific applications.

As Jeff Fried noted, the most important problems aren’t necessarily the ones that 80% of people in the enterprise have.  Focusing on these high priority problems wasn’t easy, but was vital to the overall impact of an enterprise search implemtation.  "Think about things like a people finder, or a clinical management dashboard – rather than enterprise search as one place on my intranet to go for everything," he advised.

Enterprise Search Europe was held in London in April 2014.