Like it or not, your enterprise is drowning in its own growth. The explosion of corporate content — both in the physical form of documents, records, and data, and in the human form of personal knowledge — has pressed companies into a crisis: Find a way to tap into and effectively leverage that knowledge, or watch your company’s most vital assets wither on the vine.
Now, more and more enterprises are turning to search technology for answers.
Alongside this rapid accumulation of data, enterprise search has matured, growing more sophisticated to keep pace with the deluge. From the bud of indexing and retrieval, search tools are blossoming to include capabilities such as taxonomy development, metadata extraction, classification, and personalization.
Because it is increasingly viewed as a way to link users to content and to bolster the ROI of existing applications and systems, search is emerging as a critical link in the IT infrastructure.
“If you look inside a large corporation, anywhere you swing a stick you can find something that can be made better by search,” says Matthew Berk, research director at Jupiter Research.
“We are dependent on information technology for everything employees do. Within an explosion of information, the ability of workers to find
the information they need to do their jobs is vital,” he says.
Enterprise search tools fall essentially into two camps: external-facing, Web site search tools for customers and field workers; and tools designed to scour repositories that reside behind the firewall, such as file systems, databases, and business applications.
Natural language technologies in combination with linguistic processing and guided navigation capabilities are being put to use in search for external-facing self-service applications. Vendors focusing on this space include iPhrase, Kanisa, and InQuira.
Meanwhile, the internally focused enterprise search efforts, lead by vendors such as Verity, Autonomy, Convera, and Fast (Fast Search and Transfer), employ a variety of techniques including concept-based searching, auto categorization, taxonomy development, summarization, and personalization, all in an effort to improve the reach and effectiveness of search. Categorization groups content into related groups, whereas taxonomies help structure content by linking similar terms and concepts together. In addition to the larger vendors, a smattering of smaller companies specializes in specific areas such as taxonomy creation and categorization.
The mixture of all these technologies and techniques is helping drive search toward more of a discovery process that enables workers to unearth content they didn’t necessarily know existed.
Specifically, automating the corporate taxonomy development and categorization processes is helping propel search toward this looser mode of discovery.
Taking search to the next level is “when you don’t know the exact terms to query on, or you don’t know exactly what is on the network. We want to expose that information,” says Andy Feit, Verity’s senior vice president of marketing. “Taxonomies can uncover content you may not have known about before looking at it. It lets you expose content to more people.”