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Experience Management

Ascending the Enterprise Search Value Map

When I wake up in the morning I have a couple of choices for what to do first.  I could brush my teeth.  I could take a shower.  Or I could fix that broken shelf in the garage.
Ascending the Enterprise Search Value Map
Come again?  Two of those sound very typical and easy.  But the last one is less obvious, much harder, and not what most people would do first in the morning.  That is, until I tell you the story about how a hammer fell off the shelf last night and nearly crashed through the windshield of my car.  It sounds more important now, doesn’t it?
All work has value, but not all work has the same value.  I could spend an hour with my kids drawing pictures on the sidewalk with chalk, or I could spend an hour with them sorting a box of beads and explaining how they can be groups by size or color or shape.  Both tasks would be fun (theoretically), but working on basic math skills is arguably more valuable than drawing with chalk.  I’m not saying they don’t both have value; one just happens to be more valuable than the other.  Since I have limited free time, I should try to maximize the value of the work I do with the kids.  The challenge is that drawing with sidewalk chalk is so much fun!
The same dilemma exists in enterprise search.  Companies have limited resources (time/money/people) to devote to search-related projects, and they tend to pick the simpler projects first.  For roughly the same effort, companies tend to focus on the low value projects instead of less obvious, but higher value, needs.  I’m not a psychologist, but I suspect this is because we are wired for simple rewards.  Quick wins cause a short-circuit in our brains – we overlook the much nicer gas station because it’s on the other side of the highway.  We implement a generic search box across the top of our intranet home page, while neglecting the technician on the floor that has to go back to the computer at their desk 10 times a day to figure out which blue bin in the warehouse contains the part they need.  We overlook a simple mobile search application that does one (very important) thing for this technician.
That brings us to the concept of an enterprise search value map.  A value map illustrates all of the potential search needs within a company and ranks them from top to bottom by value.  The needs are grouped into categories, like back-office operational efficiency or customer-facing marketing and sales.  We see companies start with a few items from each category, and they tend to pick the lowest value items – the low-hanging fruit, so to speak.
Presenting the entire value map to a customer is eye-opening.  It’s as if you have been stuck in one room of a house and someone comes in and lets you know that there are 3 more rooms on that floor, and two more floors above you.  Your world suddenly expands and you quickly see new potential.
Perficient’s Google Search team has access to enterprise search value maps for a wide variety of industries.  They are by no means exhaustive, but they address the majority of search needs within a typical company.  They identify a variety of discrete, high-value business problems that search can address.  Please contact us at if you would like to review your enterprise search value map and discover your next, high-value search solution.

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Chad Johnson

Chad is a Principal of Search and Knowledge Discovery at Perficient. He was previously the Director of Perficient's national Google for Work practice.

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