Let’s face it. Every developer has at some point produced something that was just right. Something we really put our heart and soul into. An extremely useful tool, a beautiful and useful web site, the most awesome piece of documentation ever written. But after delivery, it turned out that no one used it. We’ve all been there.
That’s just one of the reasons why an in-depth understanding of user requirements and behavior is important.
Search is rapidly transforming into something that we expect to be everywhere. A functional commodity, that you expect to be around wherever you are. Compare it to printing a sheet of paper, almost wherever you are in your favorite OS, you can always send whatever you’re looking at to the nearest printer. That’s how Search should be, and will be. And that’s why you should stop thinking about it as an isolated product. It’s core functionality by definition, and wherever the user is, it should be readily available.
On the web, we’re seeing more and more of this. Search bars are everywhere, in Google Chrome there’s even one right in your address bar. But if you ever worked in a big corporation, you’ve probably learnt the hard way that behind the lock-down of the corporate firewall, it’s a whole other ball-game. Different systems don’t talk to each other. You find yourself keeping a long list of bookmarked URLs to esoteric internal systems. Each with their own awful design, each with their own terrible full-text search implementations. You know what I’m talking about.
That’s why Enterprise Search matters. And that’s why you should stop implementing it as a one-off isolated project. It’s an integral part of corporate information and knowledge management, and it should be treated as such.
Imagine if you had a common front-end to all those esoteric systems. A solution that lets you search everything at once, with proper tools to dig around in the result set. Even better, a solution that lets you act on the results, without actually having to go to those esoteric underlying systems. You find whatever you’re looking for, and you act on it immediately.
This is not a CIO’s far-fetched wet dream, it’s around the corner. There are surely many problems to solve, but we’re getting there: to the corporate mashup.