Outdated beliefs about enterprise search are holding back your enterprise search strategy.

Too often, IT leaders go into the purchase or upgrade of a vendor process viewing search as a small component of the intranet or digital transformation initiative to be managed. It’s a functionality of existing software that doesn’t have any affect on the larger picture, the thinking goes.

Too often, these assumptions are sinking the digital transformation initiatives that many IT departments are trying to implement by not providing a solution to a pervasive problem: relevance.

How do you know if you have a relevance problem? Your employees can’t find the knowledge they need. It takes too long for new employees to reach the proficiency of veteran employees. Your customers’ only option for support help is to call the contact center. The website fails to meet conversion rate goals.

As companies seek to add more and more digital applications whose data is not integrated, the information and knowledge employees generate is trapped in these silos. Customers, trying to find answers online, are overwhelmed by the amount of content and having trouble finding the answers relevant to them. When the customer calls the support line, the agent is in the same boat: too much content, but not relevant to the situation at hand.

What You Don’t Know about Enterprise Search 

Without a robust enterprise search solution that can connect the information across your entire ecosystem of record and understand user intent, your business has a blind spot when it comes to knowledge, and therefore relevance. Knowledge is not content; it’s the ability to make decisions using the information available. When you don’t provide a foundation for providing relevant knowledge with enterprise search, it’s left up to employees to find the knowledge on their own – which often results in them making uninformed decisions.

Your relevance problem is only going to get worse as more digital applications add more information silos. The more investments in digital applications and transformation initiatives that your company makes, the more of an impact it will have on employees’ ability to share knowledge.

How to Develop an Enterprise Search Strategy Based on Relevance

The answer is to focus your enterprise search strategy on solving the relevance problem. Here’s how:

  • Create user requirements centered on knowledge, not information. Often, user requirements for enterprise search strategy focus on statements like “I can’t find documents” or “I struggle to answer customer questions.” Search strategies that focus on solving user requirements like these treat knowledge as content or information, rather than a human ability. User requirements with a holistic focus on knowledge focus on connecting employees with the knowledge they need, whether it’s a person or insight.  
  • Focus business objectives around enabling employee proficiency, not efficiency.  Employee proficiency is a main outcome of an enterprise search strategy based on relevance. When employees can easily find the knowledge they need, they can do more on their own with less effort. New employees require less time to become proficient, and can handle more complex tasks. HR departments are even able to adjust their hiring practices to allow for lower-skilled employees because they are being actively upskilled on the job. All of these effects have quite a bit more impact than “efficiency,” which equates to time saved and productivity increases.
  • Capturing user-driven insights needs to be a major objective. User-driven insights are the foundation of an enterprise search strategy based on relevance. Being able to capture these insights enables you to understand the relevance content and knowledge to users. For example, user-driven analytics in Coveo show the queries with no results or results with low click-through rates, indicating that the content does not adequately meet users’ needs.
  • Understand how the solution to your relevance problem needs to scale with the business. Does your enterprise search strategy account for growth? Will the costs of supporting the search strategy rise in parallel as the number of users and amount of content grows? Machine learning that automatically learns and surfaces the content most relevant to users will cut down on administrative support of manually tuning for relevance.

Relevance will decide the future of businesses. The business goals of innovation and business agility depend on the ability of employees to collaborate, build upon coworkers’ expertise, and make decisions quickly based on the data they have – all objectives severely threatened by the information silos dominating businesses today. Losing insight into those changing needs inhibits the ability of the organization to connect with their customers, and fail to become truly customer-centric.

To learn more about how to develop an enterprise search based on relevance, download our latest whitepaper: Guide to Building an Intelligent Workplace.