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TDWI Upside - Where Data Means Business

Search and Discovery to Increase Productivity and Minimize Risk

Getting answers means asking the right questions -- and a search engine that can securely find the results you need.

Finding and sifting through information is something that we all do today. Whenever we get onto a search engine and start looking up information, we're scouring through data to find exactly what we need, which tends to be quite simple in most cases. However, when it comes to searching for information within a company or an organization as an employee, things can be a bit more difficult. One of the reasons for that is that a large number of companies today have massive stores of cluttered data that may seem to have no relation to one another. It's not the same as searching through a website that has all of the info indexed and easy to find.

Think about the various types of data your company may have collected. It comes from all manner of sources. You may have data from the Web, from e-mail messages, image and sound files, videos, documents, information from a number of content systems, and social media. Trying to sort through a system that simply has these files placed haphazardly will take a long time and reduce the efficiency of your company. It is necessary to index and connect the data to make it easier to find during a search.

Whether you are looking for information for a project within the company or trying to gather necessary files for a compliance audit, it is essential that you are able to find what you need quickly. Unfortunately, many businesses are simply not up to the task right now.

Making Improvements

Being successful with internal content searches requires a good system for content management. It's much better to have all of your data in a single location rather than several different places, so you will only have to search through one central area to find the information you need. This can help dramatically improve search results, but that's not the only method. In addition, you will need to make sure you have standardized metadata in place, along with a taxonomy and a classification system that remains constant throughout the organization.

The types of search tools a company uses are important as well. A large number of companies are only using the most basic search tools and this is hurting them. They've also run into problems with using multiple repositories for the data, causing problems with logins, not to mention that the taxonomy could be different from one database to another. This can make finding all of the relevant information next to impossible. Again, combining the information into a single location can help to clear up these problems.

Another problem that companies face is with the employees themselves. Users do not always have the proper training and knowledge to use the system appropriately. This is sure to cause problems, whether they are using an outdated system or a new higher quality one. All employees who need to have access to the data must go through training to learn how to use the system appropriately. Part of that training must cover the taxonomy, as this will help elevate their search ability. Enterprises large and small have these problems.

To help alleviate this problem, you need to assign a person or a department to be in charge of the content and data. In some companies, this responsibility falls on the IT department. In other companies, it might be a records management department. Others may appoint a chief knowledge officer or a chief digital officer to handle the system. They help with training for the rest of the staff, make sure there are no problems with the system, and can help answer questions that anyone might have about it. Having this central point of knowledge can make a big difference when it comes to running the system and in getting the rest of the staff to embrace and adopt it.

Proper Security Helps Minimize the Risks

Many companies today have a great fear about the security of their data. Given all of the hacks and attacks on companies that have occurred in recent years, this fear is well-founded. Managers worry that someone in the company might gain access to information they should not see, such as financial information, promotion or bonus information, or sensitive business plans. Regardless, companies often worry about the safety and security of the search tools they are using.

However, with many of the new systems available today, it is possible to minimize the security risks by assigning specific rights to those in the company that will be using the system. Only those who are allowed to access certain files and folders will be allowed into them. When implementing one of these systems, it is generally wise to have the IT department or the chief digital officer look for any potential problems or loopholes in the system before implementing it.

Most systems available today have a robust set of features that allow the owner to assign users to different levels of access. For example, those who are working on a certain project for the company will only be able to access files specifically geared toward that project. They will not be able to access financial information or personal information, which is always a concern.

Implementing an easier system for search and discovery while simultaneously taking steps to improve the security of the system can help improve productivity and minimize risks. However, businesses need to realize that not just any search system will make their lives easier. They need to find the enterprise search system that meets all of their search and security needs, whatever they might be. Take the time to explore the options and choose the system that works best for your business.

About the Author

Mike Miranda writes about enterprise software and covers products offered by software companies such as Rocket Software about topics such as terminal emulation, legacy modernization, enterprise search, big data, and enterprise mobility.

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