Why is internal search so hard?

Have experience or an opinion? I would love to talk to you!

In collaboration with MIT CISR, I am currently researching enterprise search – i.e., the use of search engines inside corporations, whether it be for letting people outside the corporation search your website, or for letting employees search the internal collection of databases, documents, and audiovisual material. Consumer search – our everyday use of Google and other search engines – in general is very good and very fast, to the point where most people search for stuff rather than categorize it. Enterprise search, on the other hand, is often imprecise, confusing, incomplete and just not as good a source of information as searching the open Internet.

There are many reasons for this, both having to do with the content (most enterprise content lack hyperlinks, essential for prioritization, for instance), with the organization (lack of resources for and knowledge of search optimization, security policy issues, lack of an identified application owner), and with the users (who are to few to get meaningful statistics and do not, to the extent you do on the Internet, make their information findable).

Nevertheless, there are examples of companies – often consulting companies, research-oriented firms and others who deal in large amounts of information, such as pharmaceuticals and publishers, who do good work with internal, enterprise search. I have interviewed a few of those and a few search experts.

Now I would very much like to talk to anyone interesting in this topic – do you have experience, viewpoints, war stories, examples, ideas about what to do and especially what not to do? Then I am very interested in talking to you! Please leave a comment below or end me an email at self@espen.com.

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