Choosing an enterprise search tool

Data search

Having the right enterprise search tool is essential if you want to get the most use of your content and databases. However, many companies have no idea what they should be looking for with these tools.

In this article, we'll be covering some of the most important capabilities that the software you choose should contain. We'll also be covering what each of these capabilities does and why it is important.

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The Text Analytics Functions

With robust text analytics, a search tool has quite a bit of power and intelligence, helping to make searches much simpler and faster.

First, you will want a system that offers entity extraction. This means that the software is able to take certain terms in the search text and identify when they belong to certain categories in the database. For example, it would be able to identify the names of organizations, people, locations, and other similar items. Entering a search phrase that contains several of these "entities" can help to narrow your search and provide you with the exact information you need, so you do not have to sort through a plethora of random results.

Next, look for entity co-reference resolution, which can actually connect pronouns to the proper individuals contained in the search phrase. For example, if you were to enter a phrase such as "Sheila is an executive. She works in finance", the she would be connected to Sheila.

Relationship extraction will find links between others that you've named in the search. The people, locations, and dates can be associated with certain events in the search. Sentiment analysis is an interesting feature, as it can actually apply context based on the emotional tone of a search. It can be neutral, positive, or negative. A faceted search makes it easier to narrow the search results by guiding you down through the various categories until you get to the information you need. Clustering can connect documents and information that have a connection, even if you are unsure at the time of the search why they have a relationship.

Pipeline Architecture

One of the other things to look for when you are choosing enterprise search software is whether it has pipeline architecture. This type of architecture will help to make it much easier to integrate the tool into your system without the need to do any reprogramming. You are able to choose the algorithms you want to use (by choosing the best option) rather than one that's preprogrammed as a part of your system. The pipeline architecture also makes it easier for you to upgrade and switch algorithms as needed, so you can keep up with the demands of your business. It is also possible to add entirely new functions thanks to the extensibility offered through the architecture.

One of the other benefits of this type of architecture that many companies appreciate is the cost effectiveness of the scalability. You can start out with only the limited functions that you need right now, and then add onto them over time as your company grows and demands more options and functionality.

How Scalable Is the Solution?

How scalable and powerful is the enterprise search tool? A tool that is highly scalable will generally be capable of allowing a large number of users to utilize the search function at the same time without worrying about any type of slowdown. With larger companies, that have a large number of employees that will be using the system simultaneously, this is extremely important.

The Security

Today, security is highly important for companies of all types and sizes. When you work with an enterprise search solution, you need to make sure that it can keep the company's information as safe as possible, and that only those who need to have access to the system will be able to see or affect the data. Always check into the type of security a system has before implementing it into your business.

Open Standards

Will the system be able to work with open standards? There are a number of different types of systems and technologies that the search tool will need to work with, including CMS, relational databases, files, and the web. You need to make sure that the system you are using will work across the board with your enterprise.

What Should You Know About Your Company Before Choosing an Enterprise Search Solution?

When choosing an enterprise search solution, you need to make sure you first know what type of information your users will need to find. Are they looking for single entities? Are they looking for clusters or trying to find documents that are related to one another? By understanding what your particular users will be using the system to find, it makes it much easier to locate a system that has all of the features you need.

You also need to know from where the system will be accessing the data. Are you looking for information on the web or within a database? Do you primarily look through a content management system, or do you need a solution that can help you search through a number of different areas and locations?

You also need to know the type of data sets you have, as well as the overall amount of data that you will be using. When you have a substantial amount of data, it generally means you are going to need to have more hardware and networking resources. Naturally, this means you have to consider the aforementioned scalability of the solution.

Should you be using open source systems? While you may be able to find cheaper solutions with open source, it's not necessarily a good choice over a full enterprise search system. These tend to be more difficult to install and implement, and it can be difficult to get them to work for your particular needs. In addition, they do not usually come with a user interface, so it is something you would need to create.

By knowing what you need, and cross-referencing that with the capabilities of the available enterprise systems, it should be easier to find a solution that works well for your company.

Image Credit: alphaspirit / Shutterstock

mikeMike Miranda writes about enterprise software and covers products offered by software companies like rocket software about topics such as Terminal Emulation, Legacy Modernization, Enterprise Search, Big Data, Enterprise Mobility and more.

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