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Microservices Journal: Article

Enterprise Search 2.0: How to Unleash Your Data’s Potential

Let’s face it – data will never be contained

IDC analysts predict that by 2020 there will be 15 quintillion files in existence. That kind of volume has brought us to a point where we are using a term like "exabyte" (and quintillion!) to describe how much data exists. How much of that data will your organization own and how will you access it?

Dispersed across multiple systems, silos, geographies, and regions, data on its own provides no real inherent value. Native search boxes within applications only show a narrow picture of your data contained within that one application - certainly not enough information to make fast, informed business decisions. What about data contained in customer and employee communities? How can you access the valuable information contained in these rapidly growing, knowledge-intensive communities?

Let's face it - data will never be contained; it will continue to proliferate, particularly with the growth in popularity of social networks and communities. Trying to move it into a single knowledgebase or other system of record is a losing battle. Instead, the key to unleashing your data's potential lies in the ability to access it anywhere, anytime, and across any and all systems.

We call this "Enterprise Search 2.0," which enables today's organizations to transform vast stores of raw data into actionable knowledge. Not only can enterprises now index and search enormous quantities of information, but they also can put that data to use and monetize it. In a world of quintillions of files and exabytes of data, Enterprise Search 2.0 makes great business sense.

A Unified Index Provides a New Alternative
With generations X and Y comprising the majority of today's workforce, these "digital natives" expect to find whatever they need - immediately - inside of the enterprise, just as they can outside of it. Blame it on Google if you'd like. Because these digital natives want more freedom than is generally had in SAP or SharePoint, the consumerization of search is bound to explode within the enterprise. Combine these needs with the fact that information relevancy is both personal and contextual, and requires a "learning engine," which understands both, and you find an overwhelming need among most knowledge-intensive organizations for Enterprise Search 2.0.

The characteristics of Enterprise Search 2.0 can be categorized as follows:

  • The ability to federate content, meaning both the consolidation and correlation of structured and unstructured information regardless of the source or format. Enterprise Search 2.0 pushes beyond repository-centric information retrieval to leverage information through composite, information mash-ups and dashboards. Compiled from multiple data sources, these dashboards display search results in tables, charts, and other easy-to-digest information views, along with the ability to dive deeper into the details.
  • It enables quality information access, which is comprehensive, relevant, and just-in-time. Control over relevance is placed in the hands of the user through self-service and dynamic interfaces (dashboards, search interfaces, analytics, graphics).
  • A unified data index that brings all content the enterprise will search into a single layer, and includes both unstructured and structured information.

The central, unified index is perhaps the defining characteristic of Enterprise Search 2.0; it increases the value of both the content and the systems in which the content is housed, because it decouples access from the content source and makes the content source-agnostic. This is a significant breakthrough in enterprise search technology.

Data is pulled into the unified index from virtually any enterprise system, from systems that are behind the firewall to those in the cloud, and includes access to social networking and community content, and web content as well. Following the initial index, data is re-indexed as changes and updates are made, enabling searches that always provide the most recent, relevant content.

Enterprise Search 2.0, unlike basic 1.0 search, integrates with the full knowledge ecosystem. Whether the information is structured or unstructured, in text or voice, Enterprise Search 2.0 will bring it into a single, unified index from which companies can provide self-service information access to various constituencies, from specific groups of employees and customers, to prospects and partners. This approach allows IT departments to leverage their existing technologies and avoid significant costs associated with system integrations and data migration projects. It also helps companies avoid pushing their processes into a one-size-fits-all, cookie-cutter framework.

By combining structured and unstructured data from virtually any enterprise system into a central, unified index, companies not only gain superior insight into composite information, they can also deliver greater value by leveraging existing technologies, and avoid significant costs associated with system integrations and data migration projects.

Rather than searching within individual systems, and then amalgamating the search results from multiple search tools, Enterprise Search 2.0 federates the content. For example, Enterprise Search 2.0 can correlate information from disparate sources and formats and assemble a new, consolidated, dashboard view of information for the user, which would not be available from each independent content source, or which would require significant amounts of time to research and correlate manually. Compiled from multiple data sources, search results appear in tables, charts, and other easy-to-digest dashboard views; the user can also dive deeper into the details by clicking on the charts and other elements, effectively conversing with the information.

Dashboards help companies become more agile and facilitate better and faster decision-making at the top of the organization, as well as providing cross-functional awareness and collaboration. In this way, Enterprise Search 2.0 makes real-time, customized business analytics available to all employees.

Stop Moving Data
My advice to organizations is to stop moving data. In an effort to better manage and access data, companies have spent countless resources moving information to centralized "systems of record," only to have the data continue to proliferate outside of those systems.  The software industry has promised for decades a single, integrated solution to handle all enterprise information needs, but not only has that solution not materialized, the number of systems and content sources has continued to proliferate.

Moving data is a losing game. With a unified index though, organizations can eliminate this costly process and harvest existing IT infrastructures while providing actionable insight into information and knowledge.

Enterprise Search 2.0 is an important, transformational technology that is changing the way employees work. Enterprise Search 2.0 helps connect people to people through information, and provides the relevant content and context that helps organizations unleash their data's potential into on-demand, actionable knowledge that better - and more quickly -  informs critical business decisions.

More Stories By Laurent Simoneau

Laurent Simoneau is president and CEO of Coveo, and one of the industry’s top enterprise search experts. Laurent has been a driving force behind Coveo’s industry recognition as the leading enterprise search company and the pioneer of Enterprise Search 2.0. Prior to Coveo, Laurent was CTO of Copernic, an early leader in desktop search.

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