Technology has no inherent business value. Technology doesn’t provide improved findabiliy, decision-making or knowledge management by itself. Technology just provides features that help users perform tasks, thereby reaching their goals. Only when user goals and business goals align, can you hope to create business value. Without people, there is no purpose – and without purpose, there is no value.
Enterprise search technology is no different from the rest in this respect. In fact, I know only 3 good reasons for investing in search technology.
Spending time and money on an enterprise search platform like FAST Search For SharePoint (FS4SP) may be a good idea if you believe the success of your business depends on:
- Consolidation of information from different data sources and formats.
- Content refinement and entity extraction.
- Linguistic processing and advanced querying capabilities.
There is of course more to search than this, but these features are in my opinion the hallmarks of FS4SP and the old FAST ESP – what enterprise search does better, faster and with higher tractability than any other available technology. Search is by no means the only way to access information, and similar technologies (like data warehouse, ETL and topic maps) will let you do similar things, each having their own particular strengths and weaknesses.
The true value of enterprise search technology is not bound to fair promises of improved efficiency and profitability, but to the marvels it can do in the hands of brilliant engineers – without requiring any prior knowledge of the context of use. Business value is only attainable when technological capabilities form a higher unity with user needs and business goals through cross-diciplinary user-centered design.
The success of your business may depend on improved findability, decision-making and knowledge management, and that is the true value of designing the user experience of search.
Note: this post is cross-posted at Things On Top.