It’s time for many organizations to dust the cobwebs off the enterprise search experiences developed on decade-old technologies that frustrate employees and are expensive to maintain. And chances are, the customer-facing search experiences in your ecommerce platform, content management system, or customer support platforms could also use revamping.

The recently published State of Enterprise Search shows many reasons why many business and technology leaders invest in AI and low-code intelligent search capabilities. They aim to improve experiences, drive employee happiness, increase customer engagement, and reduce technology complexities.

Here are five surprising data points I pulled from the research — with my advice on what leaders should consider accelerating to turn enterprise search into a differentiating capability.

What’s surprising: Enterprises are making big investment bets on enterprise search. Over 50% of respondents working in these industries state they increased their investment in enterprise search between 5 and 20% over the last year. Over 40% of respondents from healthcare, telco, and services are making similarly-sized investments, and 15% of respondents from companies with over 5,000 employees made dramatic investments over 20%.

Why the significant increase? Hybrid and remote working are likely drivers as independently working employees require searching for information and can’t rely on watercooler conversation to get help. Improving the employee experience and driving productivity are top priorities for most organizations, and leapfrogging beyond clunky search user interfaces that deliver irrelevant results is the start of driving these investments.

What to do about it: Take a statistically relevant survey across different businesses and departments, from the entry-level employee through executives, and capture their customer satisfaction, pain points, and needs around search capabilities. You’re likely to find gaps that can lead to developing a business case to address issues and invest in intelligent search.

Personalization Is the Goal, But Basic Search Optimization Is Still a Challenge

What’s surprising: Enterprise search, internal portals, and intranets have been around for two decades, yet many organizations struggle with basic search optimization. According to the research, over 50% report struggling with result rankings and managing imprecision or incomplete metadata. Over 40% still struggle with indexing data across different systems and understanding the intent of a search query.

What to do about it: If you’re working with search index engines, then chances are there’s a homegrown relevancy algorithm scoring and ranking results. Consider auditing the approach to determine effectiveness while considering the costs to maintain proprietary algorithms. Then look at how intelligent search uses machine learning to personalize experiences.

What’s surprising: While some groups rely on their ecommerce, CMS, or intranet platform’s built-in search capabilities, many enterprises still have multiple search indices. In fact, 62 percent manage multiple indices to support different applications, and 67 percent agree or strongly agree that they “have so many legacy search implementations that they’ve ended up with no consistency in experience.”

What to do about it: Perform a financial analysis on today’s costs and missed opportunities. Review costs of today’s implementation, factoring in infrastructure, cloud costs, licensing, SaaS costs, and people’s time supporting the portfolio of search technologies. Then, use an ROI calculator to estimate the value in improving customer-facing experiences, including site search, ecommerce, and customer support experiences. Combining these two analyses can help develop the business case for investing in an intelligent search capability.

Business and IT Align on Improving Search with Low-Code and Pro-Code

What’s surprising: Only 25% of respondents believe that solutions require pro-code search solutions, and the other 75% believe that low-code or a hybrid of low-code and pro-code can improve search experiences. Over 50% are optimistic about using low-code and no-code solutions, and another 17% are strong believers.

What to do about it: Business and IT leaders used to have only two options for enterprise and customer-facing search: either leverage basic capabilities in intranet, ecommerce, CMS, and other platforms or use search indices and develop proprietary search algorithms. A hybrid of low-code, no-code, headless, and pro-code options provides a platform for applying different strategies by business need. 

Seek “AI Inside” Solutions to Improve Enterprise and Customer-Facing Search Experiences

What’s surprising: Ninety-three percent agree or strongly agree that AI will drive the future of enterprise search, but only 15% have implemented AI-powered capabilities to improve search relevance. This puts using AI in search experiences in the early-adoption phase even though relevancy and personalization algorithms are mature machine learning capabilities.

What to do about it: Invest in a proof of concept to validate low-code implementations with AI-enabled search experiences. There is still the opportunity to be a leader in delivering world-class customer-facing search experiences while improving employee experiences with enterprise search in many industries.

These are just the starting tips, and I provide more insides in previous posts on Delivering Enterprise Search Without the Tech Complexities and 5 Guaranteed Ways Digital Leaders Win with Low-code Search

The question is, what are you going to do about improving your enterprise search?

Isaac Sacolick, President of StarCIO, guides companies through smarter, faster, innovative, and safer digital transformation programs that deliver business results. He is the author of the Amazon bestseller, Driving Digital: The Leader’s Guide to Business Transformation through Technology, an industry speaker, and blogger at Social, Agile, and Transformation. StarCIO offers three agile planning courses for stakeholders, teammates, and certified StarCIO Agile Planners.