A discussion of the FAST search engine which is now part of SharePoint Portal Server. We explore the business opportunities in both employee-facing and customer-facing scenarios and discuss the differences in the technology from the perspective of readers that are already familiar with SharePoint.
Your employees can't remember all of the information sources inside your company, much less keep track of the search interfaces that exist. Each of the following system likely has its own search interface: SAP for customer data, Ariba for expense data, Siebel for contracts, the E: drive for sales related information, http://www.yourintranet.com to look up product info, unless it is related to the US division, in which case you should visit http://www.us-yourintranet.com. Information about Project X is in one SharePoint site, but if you need to find out that project status, it is tracked in the EPM tool. Reports are...where are reports again?
Today's approach: make finding the right interface it the employees' problem, and pay the price through higher costs (training, back office, re-work, turnover), lower customer satisfaction. Why? Because there really hasn't been a better option until the maturity of search engines like FAST, Autonomy, and Endeca.
This is exactly how Google, Bing, and Yahoo handle it. You don't see a dropdown box of tens of thousands of options before you can type in a set search terms, do you?
Referring back to a typical Enterprise Search implementation in my previous post, let's change up the user experience to something like this:
A couple of important points:
The search implementation should use this information to narrow down the result set from potentially hundreds of millions to a much smaller, manageable set, and then it should provide an intuitive experience for the employee to help guide the engine to the information they seek. Think ‘Best Buy', but for your corporate knowledge.
What might that search results experience look like? Let's look at that in the next post.