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How can enriched data improve your organization’s enterprise search functionality?

In today’s business world, one of the most valuable commodities an organization has is its data. By 2025, companies will be managing 180 zettabytes of data, and 90 percent of that will be unstructured data. The ability to analyze and access vast amounts of data is crucial for businesses to stay ahead of the curve. This is where enterprise search comes in. It allows users to quickly and efficiently find the information they need within their organization. 

Why is quick and easy access to unstructured data so important?

What exactly is unstructured data anyway? It’s content like documents, PDFs, audio files, and video files that isn’t organized in a pre-set format, so it isn’t as easily searchable as structured data that usually sits in databases. 

Translation: It’s a pain to organize, but it’s rich with information that organizations can use to improve collaboration, enhance security, and increase innovation by uncovering new insights and opportunities. 

Despite these opportunities, most organizations only use structured data for their decision making, which means they’re making decisions based on roughly 10 percent of the data at their disposal. 

What gives? Well, it’s not as easy as people think to find the unstructured data they need. Searching across an enterprise is more complex than running a web search. In many organizations, if an employee wants to find their “2023 employee benefits” or “sales proposal for ABC company RFP”, they’re faced with a few scenarios: 

  1. Use a central search bar that connects to every storage repository (a location where a file is saved like a shared drive or Microsoft Sharepoint) and find exactly what they need
  2. Use a central search bar that connects to every storage repository (a location where a file is saved like a shared drive or Microsoft Sharepoint) and not find what they need
  3. Use the individual search bar of every single storage repository (the search bar in Windows Explorer or Windows Search for their shared drive) until they find what they need or give up
  4. Email a colleague and ask them to send the correct file

More often than not, if an employee cannot immediately find the file they need, they’ll go straight to a colleague. But what if that colleague is not aware of the latest changes and sends them an out of date version? All of this creates additional leg work, and this complexity makes it difficult to imagine more sophisticated, real-time uses of unstructured data where information from files can be found, understood, and fed into business applications. 

So what’s the issue? Why do today’s enterprise search tools struggle to meet users’ needs?

Unstructured data just isn’t easily findable, so employees spend all of their time searching

Here’s the problem: Today’s enterprise data just isn’t findable enough, so employees spend all their time searching and searching and searching. 

But how exactly do you make your files findable? 

First, you create an inventory. This will help you understand what you have, where it is, how much of it there is, and who can access it. 

Then, you fatten up that inventory by nourishing it with the right stuff – metadata. 

Metadata is the data about your data, so that computers know what they are, where to put them, and when to retrieve them if an employee runs a search. 

Plus, that inventory – and the metadata tags attached to its files – needs to be regularly updated. 

This enriched data offers the following benefits for organizations: 

  • Improved search accuracy: By adding metadata to files, search engines can more accurately understand the context of the data and provide more relevant results. This is particularly useful in instances where there are multiple meanings for a term, or when the data contains industry-specific jargon that may not be understood by all users. 
  • Improved search speed: By adding well organized metadata to unstructured data search engines can quickly and efficiently parse the information and deliver results faster. This can be especially important in large organizations where there may be thousands of documents to search through. 
  • Improved data security: By adding security-related metadata to files, search engines can ensure that sensitive information is only accessible to authorized users. This can help prevent data breaches and protect the organization from potential legal and financial consequences. 
  • Enhanced collaboration: By adding collaboration-related metadata to files, search engines can help users identify relevant content that may be useful for collaboration. This can help improve teamwork and streamline business processes. 
  • Enhanced user experiences: By providing more accurate and relevant results, users can find the information they need more quickly and efficiently. This can help boost productivity, and reduce frustration. 

Enriching your data to achieve these outcomes probably sounds like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. A huge portion of this work can be automated with the right software and the right strategy. 

You can learn exactly how easy it is in our upcoming webinar, “Findability Fuel: What your organization needs to power rich enterprise search” with our Principal Evangelist Jed Cawthorne to learn more. Save your spot here.

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