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Why enterprise search is a must-have for any ECM strategy

Enterprise search may not seem as glamorous as Google's technology, but innovative approaches to categorizing information are bringing it back in style as a content management staple.

Enterprise search has notoriously been a problem in the content management equation. Various content and document management systems have made it possible to store files. But the ability to categorize that information intuitively and in a user-friendly way, and make that information easy to retrieve later, has been one of several missing pieces in the ECM market. When will enterprise search be as easy to use and insightful as Google's external search engine?

If enterprise search worked anywhere near as effectively as Google, it might be the versatile new item in our content management wardrobes, piecing content together with a clean sophistication that would appeal to users by making everything findable, accessible and easy to organize. Enterprise search could be the new black. However, making search a more integral part of ECM strategy will involve part taxonomy-building skills, part metadata and part machine learning approaches to teach applications to understand and connect similar concepts.

While that day may not yet have arrived, it could be approaching, say experts. Advances in search technology, such as content analytics and the incorporation of classification techniques like predictive coding, may help companies take a proactive approach to organizing their content. The jury is still out on which methods will best help enterprises out of the wilderness of information chaos, but they seem to be a step in the right direction.

Other trends, such as more contextually based search on externally facing websites may hold promise for new ways to connect concepts semantically. Search-based applications (SBAs) also hold great potential. In some cases, SBAs may be built into the content management system. In others, though, they can be built on top of a system to provide additional functionality. Behind the scenes, you need a crackerjack technology to power these SBAs and ultimately, to organize and search content.

The challenge for companies is to invest in search technologies and techniques that will be most useful for their particular needs. But it's clear that enterprise search innovations have at least caught our attention and made us reconsider our worn-out content management style.

Next Steps

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Get more out of EMC Documentum


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What's the most integral part of your enterprise's ECM strategy?
By far, the most important AND challenging aspect of our ECM strategy is mapping our architecture (both current and reference/future state) to the business as it changes. We're constantly needing to tweak our ECM approach because the business continually changes - new divisions are created or folded after re-orgs, new products introduced, and so forth. We also engage in growth via acquisition, and so we have to stay in front of every new acquisition.
What's baffling to me is, why doesn't Google come out with an ECM-specific search-based application appliance, like the internal search appliance they used to offer?
It is curious. It seems Google could add a great deal of value by creating a search app that could be built into enterprise ECM systems. Maybe it's in the works? Or is the return on investment not there for Google?
I’m very interested to see what advances are made in search technology in the coming years. We’ve spent the last several years working on a custom taxonomy, metadata, and general data cleanup to help make enterprise search as useful, intuitive and user-friendly as possible. We’ve also worked to ensure that related information is searchable across many different systems. Still, these advances can only take us so far, so we’re continuing to research and invest in new search technologies.
I'm still with Google, but that's a budgetary decision on our end. For a small company, it makes perfect sense to continue with free resources that can get the job done.