The secrets of search success part 1: convincing senior management of the value of search

We asked experts in search, information architecture, intranets, content management and usability for their views on the key challenges facing organisations seeking to deploy search solutions.

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Q: How can we convince senior management that Search is vital and they must invest in it?

Peter Morville: The value of enterprise search derives from the value of information. Access to internal content, forms, and e-services improves efficiency. Access to high-quality content from diverse sources improves decisions. And information sharing across silos promotes learning and innovation. Of course, you can't use what you can't find, so search is central to success.

Sam Marshall: Show them what it is like: play videos of people trying to find an answer to a question using screen capture and voice overs, or pick 10 common tasks that your employees use search for and ask senior managers to try finding the answer.

Paul Nelson: A recent search for 'fat' returned 'Fat Bottomed Girls.MP3' (the rock song by Queen). What’s funny is not what we found, but where we found it:  on the shared drives of a large electric utility. The point is, every company lives in two realms:  the physical world and the cyber world. You see the physical world all-around you: bookshelves, offices, desks, the manufacturing floor, the cafeteria. But the vast cyber world of data, applications, files, drives, is completely hidden from view and spread over the globe. How many songs about fat bottomed girls are on your hard drives? Search is both your map and your flashlight to the cyber world that lives within your organisation. Without them, you’re just stumbling around in the dark.

Charlie Hull: Tell them how much it costs in time to find something. Come up with some actual examples. Ask them if they know the location and contents of some important company documents and what they would do if they had to respond to a legal enquiry that required them to prove what happened in their business three years ago. Remind them that Google works only for the Web, where documents are hyperlinked and connected - and in the enterprise this simply isn't true.

Tony Russell-Rose: Spend some time watching your employees trying to use your existing solution, and evaluate its performance using realistic tasks and metrics.

Part 2 of our expert Q&A looks at developing a search strategy, and selecting the right technology.

Thanks to our experts, who are blog supporters of Enterprise Search Europe, London, 29-30 April 2014. Links to their blogs can be found here

Explore more questions like this at Enterprise Search Europe, London, 29-30 April 2014

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