The introduction of an enterprise search requirement no longer has to be a large and comprehensive project as it used to be, but can be much leaner nowadays. In order not to have unintentionally complex implementations or technologically outdated solutions afterwards, a careful selection of the right providers is required. In order to clearly outline the requirements, we have compiled a short list to help with the selection of an enterprise search.
Which technical requirements arise in your case for the search engine and what you should pay attention to when selecting a provider should result in particular from the pain points and needs mentioned by your users. Additional requirements or restrictions in the choice of provider result from the hosting option you have chosen.
In addition, there are some other general factors that you should consider when choosing a technical provider.
Technical requirements for an enterprise search
- Ease of use:
The user interface should be easy to use and intuitive to ensure high user adoption. Go for a search engine with a modern layout that looks familiar to employees and where they feel “at home”. A user interface with various filtering options is no longer one of them in today’s times.
- Use of AI:
Artificial intelligence should never be used to “use AI”. Nevertheless, the use case makes perfect sense in an enterprise search: whether it’s understanding words in the right context, analysing images or videos, or sifting through large amounts of data, this is where artificial intelligence helps to simply provide the user with a forward-looking user experience. For example, an AI can completely dispense with tags and is therefore not dependent on 100% cleanly maintained data. Tip: The ability to search for synonyms is not proof of an integrated AI. Although an AI can also do this, a thesaurus module is usually used for the sake of simplicity. To check whether there really is an intelligence, the enterprise search should be able to answer questions, for example. Nowadays, only an AI has enough understanding of the text to answer the information accordingly.
Another elementary success factor from the user’s point of view is accessibility within your existing IT landscape. Do you invest in a standalone solution or do you invest in a responsive interface that can be seamlessly integrated into SharePoint, TeamsApp, the intranet or controlled via app?
You may be considering introducing enterprise search in one department or location first. How does the technology scale? Older search methods quickly reach their limits with large amounts of data; AI-supported solutions are able to process many documents “at scale”.
A fast search is crucial for user satisfaction. The solution should be able to return relevant results quickly, even when dealing with large amounts of data.
- Search indexing:
The solution should be able to index data from different sources or different file formats, as well as different data formats such as text, images and videos. The background is that with a “federated search” or whatever the respective provider calls it, you will never beat the origin search. A federated search means that the search only targets the searches of other systems and therefore only displays the results received from the existing searches. In doing so, the provider has no way of beating the provider itself, as it relies entirely on the existing search logic.
- Security/access rights:
The solution must ensure that only authorised users can access the data, especially when searching for sensitive information. This should not require a second user management, but the enterprise search should simply take this from the existing rights. There is no need today to limit search to only “public” content.
- Integration capability:
Out-of-the-box, the solution should be able to integrate seamlessly with other systems such as content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management systems (CRM) and other enterprise applications. Elaborate set ups involving mid 5-figure sums to connect standard software are by no means common.
A good enterprise search solution should be able to provide personalised search results based on user preferences and behaviour.
Depending on the size of the company, there are of course further requirements, e.g. in the area of administrability, support, etc., which are less technical but more organisational in nature.