When it comes to enterprise search solutions, many vendors boast a larger quantity of data source connectors than ever before. They claim to have hundreds of connectors to popular systems. But these claims should have you wondering about something else entirely: their performance.

Connecting knowledge across the enterprise relies on more than the number of connectors available to you. Connector quality is crucial to ensuring that they can effectively surface the most relevant content to users across countless systems.

And quality goes beyond mere functionality. Connectors should be designed with user experience and enterprise needs in mind, through ease of setup, flexible content refresh options, and comprehensive security.

Let’s explore five key characteristics in connector technology that can vastly improve your indexing (as well as your search and generative answering) experiences.

5 Key Characteristics to Look For in Search Connectors

1. Ease of Connector Setup

Whether you’re thinking to index content from Microsoft Sharepoint, Google Drive, Atlassian Confluence, or a homegrown system, search connector setup should be simple and efficient. This is crucial for any enterprise that wants to seamlessly unify content between diverse systems. 

A complex setup process can increase implementation times, costs, and errors. And this may hinder the overall user experience and delay realizing a new technology’s benefits. The ideal search connector minimizes these issues by being as close to plug-and-play as possible. This reduces dependency on specialized IT teams and allows for quicker adoption within the business (and in turn, faster time-to-value). 

We designed our connectors with this in mind. Embodying ease of use from the outset, our connectors come with preconfiguration options, streamlining setup and reducing technical overhead. 

For example, we designed our GraphQL connector with user-friendliness in mind, allowing users to input queries directly into the system. The system then uses these queries to automatically tailor the search connector’s configuration. 

Our intuitive setup process simplifies initial implementation and enables faster adjustments and optimizations. This ensures that our connectors can evolve alongside your business needs without extensive additional input or disruption.

2. Real Time Content Refreshing Operations

Every enterprise needs content to be as up-to-date as possible to serve evolving user needs. This ensures that key business decisions are based on the latest information, and that operational systems remain efficient and reliable. 

The ability to effectively refresh content in real time is a key search connector feature. This allows your business to dynamically update indexed data, adapting to changes as they happen. 

Coveo offers content refreshing capabilities through operations such as refresh, rescan, and rebuild. These operations provide flexibility in how updates are managed, catering to various business needs and scenarios. Admins can choose the update type and frequency that best suits their operational requirements. Whether thats frequent, timely updates or scheduled batch processes.

3. Advanced Security Features

We can’t overstate the security of data accessed and transferred via search connectors. Connectors serve as vital links between disparate systems and databases, making them potential targets for security breaches. 

Advanced security features are essential to protect sensitive information from unauthorized access and ensure compliance with stringent data protection regulations. Such features include thorough authentication protocols, encryption of data in transit and at rest, and detailed permission settings that control who can access what data and when. 

We designed our connectors to respect permission granularities, ensuring that data security is both stringent and tailored to organizational needs. We employ an early-binding method to extract permissions at the very moment data is retrieved. This means that users who perform queries will only see documents they have access to in the system the content lives in. This method exemplifies our commitment to maintaining high levels of security while optimizing the performance and reliability of our systems.

4. Indexing Flexibility

Large enterprises create and store vast amounts of data across various systems. However, not all of this data is equally relevant to every search term or user. Indexing flexibility is a critical search connector feature, enabling organizations to be more intentional about the data they choose to index. 

The ability to selectively scope and index data allows organizations to optimize their search results by focusing on the most relevant, valuable, or frequently accessed information. Selective indexing not only reduces clutter in search results, it also improves search relevance when a query is submitted. Together, this enhances user satisfaction by delivering exactly what the user needs without extra noise. This is a key part of retrieval augmented generation and crafting tailored generative experiences. Moreover, it helps manage storage and processing resources more efficiently, leading to cost savings and improved system responsiveness. 

We designed Coveo’s connectors with indexing flexibility at their core, to help enterprises avoid boiling the ocean. Their advanced filtering options allow organizations to define and refine what data is indexed. Filtering out “garbage” at crawling time helps with indexing speed, content freshness, and relevancy.

5. Versatile Native and Universal Connector Offerings

Modern enterprises employ a wide variety of digital tools and platforms, requiring an adaptable approach to connectivity.  Therefore, it’s essential to offer both native and universal search connectors. This allows your search portal to draw from a broad range of systems — from documents contained in popular, widely-used applications to files in niche or legacy systems with unique requirements. 

Native connectors are often optimized for specific platforms, providing deep integration and leveraging the full range of features those platforms offer. 

Conversely, universal connectors offer flexibility. They can be configured to connect with a variety of systems, even those without a dedicated native search connector. This versatility ensures that an enterprise search solution can be universally applicable, adaptable to any IT ecosystem, and capable of evolving alongside new technologies and business needs. 

Coveo’s commitment to versatile connectivity is evident in its extensive suite of both native and universal connectors, each continuously improved for depth and configurability. 

Our native connectors are highly mature, having been specifically tailored for platforms like Salesforce and SharePoint Online and refined through years of real-world use. This continuous improvement loop takes into account user feedback and emerging platform features to enhance the overall strength and performance of each connector. As a result, they become more sophisticated and feature-rich, aligning closely with the platforms they serve.

Moreover, our universal search connectors are designed to be adaptable and flexible, catering to systems with or without native support. They come equipped with “recipes” — pre-configured guidelines and settings to facilitate the quick and effective indexing of data from a variety of systems. These recipes help users quickly set up efficient data indexing, tailored to the unique characteristics and requirements of each system they wish to connect to. 

Towards an Agnostic and Composable Cloud Search Market

The shift towards platform-agnostic and highly composable search solutions is reshaping the market, highlighting the need for connectors that are not only versatile – but also robust, secure, and capable of delivering precise outcomes. The right connectors will ensure that your search and generative experiences are reliable, flexible, and can evolve with both transforming technological and organizational needs.

Who’s helping you stay relevant and connected?

At Coveo, we prioritize the overall performance of our connectors, focusing on quality over quantity. This strategic approach allows us to provide solutions that are perfectly suited to our clients’ tech ecosystems and ensures that they have access to a cloud search solution that is powerful, secure and suited to their changing content needs.

With more than 18 years of search innovation, we recognize the importance of empowering our users with the knowledge they need to succeed. We provide extensive guidance and best practices to help users refine their indexing strategies and make informed decisions about what content they choose to index. Our recommendations are designed to help users navigate the complexities of data integration and management, enabling them to harness the full potential of search – while minimizing system strain in the process!

Dig Deeper

Today’s customers expect a personalized, frictionless and relevant search experience across all digital touchpoints. Connectors are one important aspect of many when evaluating search platforms.

In this ebook, you’ll find key considerations you have to evaluate when looking for the best enterprise search software.

Relevant Reading
Free Ebook | Buyer’s Guide for Best Enterprise Search Engine