Originally published on February 24, 2016

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In my company’s Enterprise Social Network (ESN), someone typed just the words “value map” into the posting box of the community group for Enterprise Search, hoping that this would perform an actual search. This made me think of the Seinfeld episode where Kramer, posing as Movie Phone, asks, “Why don’t you just tell me the name of the movie you selected?”

Search engines such as Bing and Google now return actual content along with the traditional search results. For example, on the right side of the Bing search for knowledge management, the following images, information, people, and other content are provided:

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Google often provides Wikipedia content before the standard search results:

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Google also offers the Knowledge Panel: “When people search for a business on Google, they may see information about that business in a box that appears to the right of their search results. The information in the box, called the Knowledge Panel, can help customers discover and contact your business.”

Knowledge managers are frequently asked, “Why can’t our enterprise search be more like Google?” While it’s impossible to match the scale of the Internet inside a single enterprise, and thus Google’s PageRank algorithm won’t work the same way, it is possible to emulate other functionality of Google and Bing.

Beyond organic search results, useful content can be more intentionally provided. To do so, determine the topics of greatest importance to the organization, curate a list of relevant content which can be searched and filtered, and feed the entries as enterprise search results. These can be in the form of curated answers — best bets (thumbnails and links only), authoritatively-badged content, or quick answers (more complete content plus links) for the content deemed to be the best for each of these key topics. They can also be dynamically generated using attributes, tags, sorts, filters, human interaction, etc.

How to choose what to provide

  1. Request submissions from content providers, but be selective in what you accept — some providers will submit endless lists of best bets, and not all of these will be worthwhile

What to provide in enterprise search

  1. Type-ahead search, autocomplete, incremental search, incremental find, find/filter as you type, or real-time suggestions — to save typing and match new searches to previous ones
  • Most visited or downloaded

Categories for the curated list of quick answers

  1. Internal organizational structure — e.g., Finance, Human Resources


  1. Search Engines and Enterprise Search

What have you seen or used to improve enterprise search results?

Written by

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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