How to Choose the Best Enterprise Search Platform for Your Company

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

How to Choose the Best Enterprise Search Platform for Your Company

Today's organizations and companies use so much data that they practically administer private Internets. Enterprise search platforms are an important software aide for businesses looking to deal with an ever-expanding amount of intellectual capital and data.

The vast majority of us wouldn’t know what to do without search engines. They’re how we navigate the Internet and find what we need. Yet, our companies have so much data these days that they’re practically housing Internets of their own. This is why you need an enterprise search platform and the following is how you find one.

Thinking About Enterprise Search Programs

Before we go into too much detail regarding the type of enterprise search platform your company needs, let’s cover the basics of this important type of software first. Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can just use a web search engine for the job. Later, we’re going to make it quite clear why, but the point is that this type of search engine is just the wrong tool for the job. They’re great for scouring the World Wide Web because that’s what they were made to do.

Another option you’d be wise to avoid is the open source versions. A lot of people like to tout the supposed benefits of gong with open source software. They are only too glad to point out that it’s free, for example. Well that is definitely true, remember that you’ll get what you pay for and when it comes to something this important, you don’t want to get something so cheap.

Also, open source enterprise search engines don’t come with any support teams. If something goes wrong or you’re having trouble with the learning curve, you’ll basically be stuck going online and reading about your options on forums. This is not how you run a company.

What your search engine has to be able to do is get through your vast collection of data as soon as possible. It must be able to find relevance between documents, databases and other items that may not be obvious to human eyes. Obviously, you want to have your results brought right away, but you also want them organized properly too.

Lastly, you should look for a search engine that allows you a great deal of customization. You should be allowed to pull out certain search features as you see fit, rearrange them and then launch a query. In this way, your employees can always find exactly what they’re looking for, especially when they can save their custom settings and use them again whenever they like.

What Kinds of Data Do Your People Search For?

A lot of people make the mistake of thinking one enterprise search platform must be as good as the next. It doesn’t take long to see why this is a mistake though. You don’t look at Google and Yahoo the same way, do you? Then why take this same approach with something as important as search platforms for your company?

You want to make sure the enterprise search software you choose is adept at going after the kind your people find most important.

Instead, you need to consider what kind of data your people look for the most. Web search engines have to be prepared to find just about anything, but even those platforms have priorities.

In any case, your people most likely spend the majority of their searches on specific types of company data. Therefore, you want to make sure the enterprise search software you choose is adept at going after the kind your people find most important. Don’t guess at this either. If you’re high enough up, it might not be fun to think about, but it’s possible you don’t fully understand the kinds of searches your people do. Better to ask and confirm than guess and make a costly mistake.

The other thing you’re trying to avoid is paying for a platform that comes with all the bells and whistles when you only need it to search through two types of data or so. There’s no point in paying for more than you’ll ever use.

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How Is the Data Reported?

Once you know the kind of data your employees will be using your enterprise search software for, the next step is to look into how it should be displayed. The good news is that you have so many options these days, this kind of minute detail is something you can demand and still find a platform that will make you happy.

At the same time, this may seem trivial. A good way to help highlight why the interface is so important is to once again bring up web search engines. A lot of people in your position have simply leveraged a preexisting one, like Google, for all of their internal searches. The logic seems to be there, after all. These search engines already work just fine and are free. Why spend money on paying to reinvent the wheel?

Perhaps you can relate to this kind of thinking. Perhaps you even made the mistake of following through with it. If so, then you know what happened, which is probably why you’re excited about finding a true solution.

Web search engines can bring back a wide breadth of information on demand. Sadly, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be helpful for your staff. What they need is a search engine that can drill down to important details in every data point it comes across.

This is vital for bringing back relevant results. However, it’s also the only way this kind of application can make sense of the results it finds in a way your employees can use. Think about all the data your company houses at the moment. Then imagine if your people had to go through SERP (search engine result page) after SERP trying to find minute details about an old product’s specifications. Do you agree that would be far from ideal?

What Kinds of Categories Do You Need?

Along the same lines, you want to think about the categories that will be used for not just showing results, but going out and finding them. The way the majority of these programs work is based on what is known as pipeline architecture.

The pipeline refers to how one category of search type stacks one after the next. This way, the search engine can use all kinds of criteria to find what you’re asking of it without these functions getting in the way of one another.

Once again, though, some of these categories may not be necessary for your company. In that case, you don’t want to pay for extras that will never see the light of day. However, in some cases, you’ll find that the pipeline is pretty customizable. You can actually remove some categories or rearrange them as you please. If it’s within your budget, this kind of architecture may be worth investing in. This was a topic we covered at the beginning, but it’s important to think how it could end up saving you money as well.

Prioritizing Scalability

Scalability is always important to think about when it comes to your software. No matter what kind we’re talking about, you want to know that your company can grow as it pleases without being held back by having to reinvest in updates or new platforms. Likewise, the day may come when it makes the most sense to take a step back and shrink your company a bit. If that should happen, you’ll be far better off if you have software that can keep pace without costing you extra.

That being said, “scalability” has become a bit of a buzzword in that people tend to simply say it without thinking its implications all the way through. How much scalability you’ll realistically need is worth thinking about. If your company is never going to have a million employees, you shouldn’t invest in a platform that’s made to accommodate this.

Consider Others in Your Field

If all of this seems like a lot to do, just remember how important this kind of software is. Fortunately, you can also cheat a bit by simply looking at others in your industry. Most software manufacturers in this field are only too glad to brag about their successes. A developer that has helped others in your industry would probably be a good fit and will have testimonials to prove it.

Obviously, you may also learn that various competitors use different search engines. That just means you have a wider field to pick from. Of course, you still want to take your time investigating a candidate, but this should help your search without trying your patience too much. If a company has only recently begun using a certain search engine then you’ll definitely want to wait a while before deciding if that one will be a good fit for you too. In other words, you may as well learn from their mistakes.

In order to find the enterprise search program you need, the important thing is to take your time. Consider all we covered above in detail before moving forward. It can also help to look at what others in your industry use, as we mentioned. The good news is that these search engines are being made with such high standards that just about any you pick is going to get the job done.

By Mike MirandaEmbed

Author Bio - Mike Miranda writes about enterprise software and covers products offered by software companies like about topics such as Terminal Emulation, Legacy Modernization, Enterprise Search, Big Data and Enterprise Mobility.