When you look for an e-mail you sent last week, a vendor account rep’s phone number, a PowerPoint presentation you received from a colleague in the Paris office, a URL to an article recommended for reading before the next Board meeting, or background on a company project you have been asked to manage, you are engaged in search in, about, or for your enterprise. Whether you are working inside applications that you have used for years, or simply perusing the links on a decade’s old corporate intranet, trying to find something when you are in the enterprise doing its work, you are engaging with a search interface.
Dissatisfaction comes from the numbers of these interfaces and the lack of cohesive roadmap to all there is to be found. You already know what you know and what you need to know. Sometimes you know how to find what you need to know but more often you don’t know and stumble through a variety of possibilities up to and including asking someone else how to find it. That missing roadmap is more than an annoyance; it is a major encumbrance to doing your job and top management does not get it. They simply won’t accept that one or two content roadmap experts (overhead) could be saving many people-years of company time and lost productivity.
In most cases, the simple notion of creating clear guidelines and signposts to enterprise content is a funding showstopper. It takes human intelligence to design and build that roadmap and put the technology aids in place to reveal it. Management will fund technology but not the content architects, knowledge “mappers” and ongoing gatekeepers to stay on top of organizational change, expansions, contractions, mergers, rule changes and program activities that evolve and shift perpetually. They don’t want infrastructure overhead whose primary focus, day-in and day-out, will be observing, monitoring, communicating, and thinking about how to serve up the information that other workers need to do their jobs. These people need to be in place as the “black-boxes” that keep search tools in tip-top operating form.
Last week I commented on the products that will be featured in the Search Track at Gilbane Boston, Dec. 3rd and 4th. What you will learn about these tools is going to be couched in case studies that reveal the ways in which search technology is leveraged by people who think a lot about what needs to be found and how search needs to work in their enterprises. They will talk about what tools they use, why and what they are doing to get search to do its job. I’ve asked the speakers to tell their stories and based on my conversations with them in the past week, that is what we will hear, the reality!