Enterprise Search and Findability What is Different?
Is “Findability” only a buzzword to describe the same thing as before when talking about search solutions, or does it bring something new to the discussion? I’d like to think the latter and this week I read a blog post describing the difference between search and findability in a very good way. I couldn’t have written it better myself.
For the lazy one, I’ve picked a quote that is the key element in the post:
Findability: introducing the robot waiter
Imagine you’re in a futuristic restaurant and when the robot waiter approaches, you ask for ‘ham and cheese omelette’. In response he just shrugs his robotic shoulders and says ‘not found – please try again.’ You then have to keep guessing until you find a match for something you’d like to order.
Now imagine a second futuristic restaurant where the robot waiter says ‘Mr Grimes, how lovely to see you, the last time you visited you had A and B and gave them a 5 star rating. People who ordered x, also ordered y and found that the wines a, b and c went really well with it.’At first restaurant the menu was searchable (though regrettably the ‘ham and cheese omelette’ query didn’t match anything), at the second restaurant the menu was findable.
To me, this analogy is spot-on. I dare to say that making content searchable is more of a technical issue while reaching great findability requires understanding of the business. Why is that?
Well, making a content repository searchable you “only” need to hook up a connector, index the repository and display a search box to the users. To succeed with this, it doesn’t matter if the content is movie reviews, user manuals, recipes, a product catalog or whatever. What you need to know is the format of the repository (is it a SQL database, file system, ECM, etc.).
But if you want your users to find what they want in your repositories, business knowledge is a requirement. It’s true that you help your users find information by implementing technical stuff like query completion, facets, did-you-mean, synonym dictionaries, etc. But if they are to be of any help you need to present facets that are useful, populate the synonym dictionary with terms used in your organisation,etc. For example, a good synonym file targeted towards nurses and doctors would be very different compared to one targeted at employees at an insurance company.