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Let Modern Search Solutions Be ‘The Brains’ Of Your Enterprise

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Forrester Study: What enterprise search is really capable of

How do large companies work with enterprise search tools, and what benefits do they reap from them? A study conducted by the market research firm Forrester addresses these very questions, and the compelling results are summarized in their Thought Leadership paper “Let Modern Search Solutions Be ‘The Brains’ Of Your Enterprise”. Forrester interviewed 153 IT decision-makers from different industries in five countries (USA, Canada, Germany, Great Britain and The Netherlands) to understand how organizations access and use modern search technology.

As is typical for enterprise search system usage, the surveyed companies integrated different types of solutions pertinent to their needs in ways that were flexible  ̶  depending on their specific requirements and areas of application:

  • On-premises, installed on company-own hardware (in 35 percent of the companies surveyed): The customer maintains control of the system, which, among other advantages, means that the search applications can be very precisely customized.
  • A hybrid combination of on-premises and cloud (in 27 percent of the companies surveyed): The typical application scenario is that sensitive data remains in-house while other data is operated in the cloud, in order to take advantage of a cloud’s virtually limitless scalability.
  • On-premises appliance (20 percent): The customer scores with the out-of-the-box functionality of advanced, pre-configured solutions, without having to sacrifice customization options.
  • Cloud solutions (18 percent): With this option, companies pass the operation of the enterprise search solution to a technology partner.

Another strength of enterprise search is that searches can be launched across all channels and information sources throughout the entire organization –  regardless of whether the data is in structured or unstructured form.

Practice shows that the Web, databases and file servers are among the most preferred sources and data types:

  • Web content (71 percent)
  • Databases (66 percent)
  • Documents (59 percent)
  • Imagery (43 percent)
  • Video (22 percent)
  • Audio (20 percent)

When analyzing use cases to understand how enterprise search solutions are being put into practice, specific applications and business cases (for example, the legal field and the medical sector) come in at the top with 64 percent. This is followed by queries/research of a general nature (60 percent), customer service and support (for example, online troubleshooting) at 46 percent, and customer queries in eCommerce (27 percent).

The greatest advantage: better customer management

Rather unexpectedly, in terms of the appreciable benefits of enterprise search solutions, quality in customer management takes first place, and even trumps speed in the search process for adding real, tangible value to the business:

  • 74 percent of companies surveyed confirm that they can provide better service to their customers.

  • 62 percent of employees work faster because they can find content more quickly.
  • 48 percent of the employees are confident that enterprise search solutions help in making better decisions.
  • 29 percent see advantages in knowledge management.

When maintaining a search tool, survey respondents cited expanding the search spectrum as the number one item on their IT agenda:

  • Integration of new data sources (24 percent)
  • Helpdesk (19 percent)
  • Development of search interfaces (23 percent)
  • Indexing of new data sources, configuration of search interfaces and database integration (10 percent each)

The Forrester study cites data security, scalability and management ability to virtually equal degrees as the most important criteria for choosing an enterprise search tool:

  • More security: With the rapid growth of data comes an increased risk that data will be misused. 81 percent of respondents expect enhanced security from an enterprise search tool.
  • High scalability: 79 percent of enterprises underline the need for an enterprise search solution that grows with the company in order to maintain business momentum.
  • More than one third (77 percent) are convinced that enterprise search solutions should possess management and analysis functions.

Conclusion: Companies are investing in enterprise search now more than ever

According to the Forrester study, 69 percent of the firms surveyed use enterprise search as their primary search system across the enterprise. Among other things, they benefit from the easy integration into the in-house infrastructure (particularly in the form of an appliance), the high scalability (for example in conjunction with a cloud) and the low-maintenance operation with a clear TCO.
All this means that the vast majority of the companies surveyed want to continue to invest in the area of enterprise search.

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