Everyone is aware of the key role search plays in a product or retail scenario. Websites like Amazon and Best Buy would be practically unusable without a way to easily search for products you are looking to research or purchase. Did you know that search can also play the same critical role in a corporate environment? Corporate networks today hold petabytes of information scattered across file shares, databases, SharePoint lists, individual employee computers and mobile devices. This information is almost always isolated to small groups of employees or even a single employee. However, there is a wealth of information in those isolated databases, Excel, Word, PDF, and text files that is beneficial to the entire company. The problem is that this information is quite often difficult to find unless you know of its existence and then know where to find it.
To illustrate this point, a few years ago, I was visiting a client at a very large pharmaceutical company where we discussed how difficult it was for them to find research information generated by their scientists. Pharmaceutical companies often spend millions or even billions of dollars developing new drugs and it’s not uncommon for the research done for a particular drug to be vital to the research being done for a new drug. The company I was visiting recognized the benefit of sharing information across the enterprise, but they had a problem. The information their scientists wanted to find was more than likely isolated somewhere on the servers or computers of scientists in another division of the company or sometimes on an entirely different network in a division in another country. They recognized that they could save a lot of money in the research and development of new drugs if they could easily find this information, even previously unknown information, no matter where it’s located.
A good example of this type of information sharing turning into big money is the story of Viagra. Pfizer had originally developed the drug for the treatment of hypertension. The drug didn’t work so well for treating hypertension, but researchers discovered that it had a side effect that could be used to treat erectile dysfunction. Viagra is a 2 billion dollar a year product for Pfizer. Imagine if the research related to Viagra and erectile dysfunction was buried on a Pfizer server somewhere in the UK. That would have been a 2 billion dollar a year gold mine sitting undiscovered on the company’s network.
So how do you make all this information scattered all over your company’s network easily available to employees without them having to know whether it exists or where it’s located? This is where an enterprise search engine comes to the rescue. An enterprise search engine can ingest information from across the entire network, even disconnected ones, and make it easy to search and retrieve this information. Google’s success in making it easy to find just about anything on the internet has changed expectations of how easy it should be to find information anywhere. Technologies like FAST Search from Microsoft can provide the same easy search experience for the information stored in your corporate network. Enterprise search engines quite often provide a much better search experience than what you’d get from something like Google because it can be tailored to your company’s specific search rules. FAST for example, can be configured to return results that specifically match what your company determines are relevant for a particular search. Therefore, a search performed by a person in the Finance department can be fine-tuned to return results that are relevant in the finance context that’s specific to your company. This is very powerful concept and very different from the internet search experience in which the results very generic in terms of relevancy and is not specific to any particular search context.
How much untapped revenue or potential savings is hiding in your corporate network waiting to be discovered? An enterprise search engine can help your company discover it and in the process either save your company a lot of money or provide the information to generate more money.
If you have any questions regarding this blog post, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I welcome feedback on this content and also greatly appreciate suggestions for grammatical and/or spelling errors.