There seems to be much talk recently about the direction of enterprise search. Tech bloggers and industry analysts alike are penning their farewells to ‘traditional’ search and ushering in an era of personalised, proactive, data driven search experiences.
Our take? We agree; that old traditional search engine you know is in fact, no longer meeting customers expectations.
Don’t get us wrong; We still strongly believe that a good search platform is an essential method of finding information online and within an enterprise, and that organisations without effective search jeopardize productivity and drive customers away. Whether it is voice activated search platforms or search via enterprise messaging that is the future, search is still current and unavoidable.
Not just an essential platform, traditional search also proves its value through smart and intuitive capabilities. For example, almost all search engines provide suggestive results. When faced with a phrase such as ‘domestic travel requisition’ your enterprise search platform will likely assume you would also like to know where the travel expense claim forms are, and serves up suggestions accordingly.
Search can go even further, guiding users to content that the organisation deems important. For example, when faced with a search term ‘course fees’ a university could redirect the student to their grants page, allaying their fears that a particular course will be out of their reach. This tactic is used commonly for organisations to create conversion points and reach online business objectives, and not only are we as customers aware of it, we are grateful.
Traditional search is reactive, relying on the customer to get the ball rolling on the discovery journey. And with words like ‘personalisation’, ‘proactive search’ and ‘business insights’ buzzing around, it seems that the role of search has grown broader. As experienced online users, in general we've come to expect a more dynamic experience in tune with who we are and what our needs are.
You could draw this conclusion; A decent search platform might be nailing information retrieval, but what else has it done for you lately?
Not only is the way people find information changing, but search is also being used to solve entirely new classes of problems. So, perhaps we should be asking, what other business problems is my search platform addressing? What kinds of problems do I need it to solve?
In 2011, in the midst of the Australian Federal Government mandate for agency-wide web accessibility conformance and the frenzy of procurement that ensued (mostly for manual consultancy services), we began to experiment with the idea that our technology could be re-imagined for a new purpose. It wasn’t long before an automated accessibility auditing and reporting tool was born. Needless to say, the 2011 - 2012 financial year was a good one for us.
Little did we realise when we first evaluated the underpinnings of the search platform and re-purposed them to solve a completely different problem, how close we were to developing a new and innovative way of approaching all kinds of enterprise problems. It wasn’t long before we started to wonder, how many more business objectives could we solve, without the need to develop new technology from scratch or deviate too far from our bread and butter of website and enterprise search? We set our minds to the task.
As it turns out, the answer to that question is simply, lots. Some of the solutions to these business problems are already in production, many are still conceptual.
Want to read more about the evolving role of a search platform? In our other blog posts in this series, we discuss search that is proactive, facilitates automated discovery, provides insights, and answers questions. Read how to overcome functional fixedness in part 2 of this blog series, whether the future of search is proactive in part 3 or head to part 4 to see what we think about intelligent question answering.