Fine Tuning Your Enterprise Search - part 1

Martin Belam  by Martin Belam, 3 December 2004

Introduction

It is increasingly recognised in the modern enterprise that getting the processes of searching for and retrieving information right in a business can deliver a vital competitive edge. In a knowledge based economy employees who can't find vital internal information about their jobs are less productive, and with the advent of the web, potential customers who can't get straight to the information they need are only a click away from a competitor's site.

It isn't possible or desirable, though, to simply model your business around the requirements of the particular search technology you may have implemented. For example, attempting to burden employees with the production of endless metadata that they cannot see the benefit of is a thankless task, and general business processes can't be subverted purely for the sake of making one piece of technology function better.

The result of this is the necessity to fine tune your enterprise search system once it has been implemented. You may imagine that to fix this you need to be a search engine boffin in the classic mad scientist mould, with banks of computers and multi-coloured liquids bubbling over Bunsen burners. However, the truth is somewhat less romantic, and it means placing an emphasis on the people in your business rather than the technology. By understanding their requirements and their behaviour better you can provide a better and more efficient service.

I'd like to outline four areas where I believe that with straightforward techniques you can fine tune your search systems, to get the best performance out of them in a way that represents value for money, and which ultimately leads to better results for users.

Continue to find out how to fine tune the presentations of your results.

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