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Enterprise Search Benefits

There are multiple ways to justify and find support for your enterprise search initiative

Numerous staff here at Search Technologies have been working with search systems for more than 20 years. The first true enterprise search systems came to market approximately 20 years ago. Since then, this $multi-billion industry has worked hard at building business cases for the concept of an “enterprise search platform.” 

Yet, even today, it remains a tough subject to get right. 

Here are some thoughts around enterprise search justification, and benefits. 

As we are privileged to observe through the success of our customers, organizations that “get” enterprise search, realize substantial benefits. When enterprise search is working well within an organization, the benefits are obvious, and boil down to basic issues of efficiency, productivity, cost avoidance, and the support of better-informed decision-making. 

For many companies hoping to start a new enterprise search project, these benefits are difficult to pin down. Lack of measurability is a key issue. When a lot of people individually benefit through incremental improvements, it is very hard to measure the gains. For example, this occurs when many employees:

  • See their personal efficiency improve, through finding information more rapidly, all day, every day
  • Find information directly, rather than having to use their colleagues' time to broker questions, the answers to which are already well documented, somewhere
  • Day-to-day decisions are better informed, because of easier and more transparent access to supporting information 

These are undeniably good things, but their overall impact is tough to measure and illustrate through a cold, hard, spreadsheet.

Enterprise search technology is used to support a wide range of business processes. Most organizations find it easier to justify investment in better search, one application at a time. Measurability has a lot to do with this. Here are a few examples:

  • Customer Support Operations: Methodologies to measure employee efficiency and customer satisfaction are already in place, in many organizations, for the key tasks around servicing customer inquiries. Better search means faster response, more efficient use of staff time, efficiency gains (the same number of staff can service more customer requests). Measurable cost savings are the result. Even better, if your Web search is great, customers will be happy to find answers, self-service.
  • eCommerce Search: Countless eCommerce implementation projects have shown us that better search directly improves the bottom line. The benefits are transparent, and can be seen through before / after comparison. Spreadsheets can easily be created to prove to the most skeptical of CFOs, that search improvement delivers excellent ROI.
  • Encouraging re-use: This is a cost-avoidance justification. Don’t design a new part for your product if an existing part will do the job; don’t repeat research that has already been conducted; don’t write a new section for your proposal, if a colleague already created a great answer to that question. Search is the key application for encouraging re-use. Evidence for this justification tends to be anecdotal, but in most organizations, examples that demonstrate substantial ROI can be found.

For a longer list of specific use-cases, see our white paper The Top Ten GSA Applications. That document is Google Search Appliance-specific, but the search applications discussed are universal. 

An incremental improvement in the productivity of an organization’s staff, across departments, will be seen by some executives as strategic. But the difficulty in measuring a general productivity improvement, remains a problem for many decision makers. 

This is perhaps why investments in targeted search-based applications, such as the examples above, deployed in environments where the benefits are easier to measure, are more likely to be signed-off. 

Yet, we are in an age dominated by information. Surely, the ability to easily access, search, analyze, slice-and-dice, and universally exploit the growing mountain of information is strategic? 

We think so. 

As the discipline of enterprise search continues to merge with the Big Data world, we strongly believe that decision makers will recognize the strategic benefits of deploying search platforms. Now is the time for enterprise search evangelists to step up.

Which approach is right for you? The keys to getting an enterprise search initiative off-the-ground within your organization may lie in a combination of the above. 

Our experience in helping customers to get going, and then sustain initiatives with enterprise search, is second to none. We are technology agnostic too.

Within most organizations, a combination of issues, circumstances, and business imperatives exist, which point clearly to the need for an enterprise search initiative.

Our affordable consulting services can help you to find the right formula.

Further, working with a growing number of existing customers, we are implementing systems that use search to front Big Data initiatives. We'd love to discuss these possibilities with you.

Contact us for a no-commitments discussion of your plans and ambitions for enterprise search.