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COVID-19 has accelerated global digital transformation. Everything has shifted online, from gift shopping to grocery shopping to streaming media consumption. Customers expect easy, frictionless, personalized digital experiences. Enterprise search, in short.

The shift has not just happened online for consumers: employees are looking for intranet tools and information they need to stay productive while working and collaborating remotely from locations around the world. Again: Enterprise search.

We build enterprise search products for both external public users (customers), and internal users (employees and business teams). An efficient search engine enables both your customers and employees to more quickly access your most critical information. It induces more consumption, engagement, and collaboration, while dramatically increasing efficiency.

Search is an unsung hero, a powerful application that unifies your data and metadata, rendering them more discoverable, digestible, and easily actionable. The data can be in any format—products, videos, spreadsheets, documentation, articles, blogs, client information, intranet financial reporting—or that of many other market or work-related types of content. Good search technology can be integrated with existing in-house and third-party tools and data sets.

What is enterprise search? This article answers that question and then provides a roadmap of how to optimize your enterprise search software capabilities, from capturing analytics to gaining business insights and building powerful internal search experiences that integrate with your back-office systems.

A roadmap for building an enterprise search solution

Enterprise companies typically follow a needs-based strategy with search. They start by upgrading their online search to boost customer engagement and conversion rates. Only then do leading enterprises regroup and develop a robust search-based framework that integrates with their back-office systems, data, and workflows enabling business teams to function optimally.

Let’s outline the 3-step roadmap Algolia provides. You can:

  1. Build successful online search functionality with the expertise and flexibility provided by our staff and products. Our software is entirely customizable to meet any industry and unique business need.
  2. Integrate search internally with a multipurpose indexing framework and cloud-based hosting service designed to support back-office systems, different datasources, employee tasks, business workflows, and productivity tools.
  3. Collect analytics to track usage, and then feed that information into a database for reporting and AI-driven business insights, recommendations, personalized information, and A/B testing for all your search platforms.

Three needs to address, nine actions to take to create enterprise search

1. The need for a competitive, rich online enterprise search experience

All of Algolia’s clients need great online search. They need to enable better digital customer experiences that result in greater engagement and conversion. They need to get up and running quickly with low resources. They need search expertise to build an online experience that grows their ROI.

  • WW (Weight Watchers), the world’s leading commercial weight-management program, allows its members to track what they eat and when. Tracking eating habits quickly and accurately is core to their members’ success. However, the organization’s amount of user-generated data quickly grew from hundreds of thousands to hundreds of millions of data points. Despite this enormous growth of information, Algolia’s WW search platform performs 100 times faster than WW’s previous search solution, with 90% of search queries being returned in less than 14 milliseconds. What’s more,  Algolia refreshes search results as a WW member searches in real time.
  • Additionally, Algolia is powering much more than WW’s digital search experiences. WW uses our technology to power its Recipe Explorer, as well as its CRM search, and continually works on new ways to leverage Algolia products to support their innovations.

Action 1: Build a competitive search presence on the Web

Start by deciding where your search interface should be located and what it should look like. Is it the first item that appears on your home page? A supplemental tool buried on a secondary page? Also, put some thought into how you want search results to appear: titles and links may be fine, but your users will probably want more, depending on your industry, for instance, images, a short summary, or prices.

If your business team doesn’t have a lot of experience with building a web search tool, you can partner with us. We provide a fast and responsive enterprise search engine with advanced features such as recommendations, personalization, and many ways to manage your content and fine-tune your relevance, whether manually or in an automated way using AI. You’ll also get out-of-the-box, fully customizable front-end UI tools and libraries to help you build a rich Search and Discovery experience that integrates seamlessly with your business use case and branding.

Action 2: Learn from your customers with analytics and A/B testing

Our analytics engine improves the relevance and usability of your search over time. Analytics helps you track what people are looking for, what they click and convert on, and which searches are most effective.

You can also leverage analytics to drive content creation and expand product assortment. Search analytics tell you what kind of products and content your users want. Use this data to help you create new content and products that already have a prospective audience.

Action 3: Continually iterate to improve your enterprise search functionality

Be responsive to changing markets and customer needs. What does this mean? After quickly delivering a first version of your site search solution to solve the most pressing problems, iterate and optimize by improving relevance, adding AI-automated relevance tools such as Dynamic Re-Ranking and Dynamic Synonym Suggestions, and upgrading your front-end UI with more advanced features such as merchandisingPersonalizationfaceting, and  Autocomplete. These are all attributes of leading enterprise search experiences that users have come to expect.

2. The need for a flexible and efficient internal enterprise search

An enterprise’s data is often massive and disorganized. Information gets lost or is just not known. Systems are outdated and difficult to adapt. Employee productivity, collaboration, and communication are suboptimal. Tasks and workflows are inefficient.

  • Dior, a leading fashion retailer, started using Algolia for its ecommerce websites. Then its management decided to use Algolia to manage its in-store applications. They created a single app that was integrated using connectors with Algolia’s API. Store associates can now search for items based on shoppers’ preferences (e.g., fabric, color, type). They can see what’s available in the particular store, as well as easily shipped from nearby stores, avoiding customer frustration.
  •  The Times and other news and financial services have leveraged Algolia’s API to transform their editorial curating processes to keep pace with fast-moving news cycles. Algolia enables editors to search for, select, and publish the most trending news articles. Algolia will eventually be used to discover those trends and make recommendations automatically.

Action 1: Empower your employees

You want to enable everyone from engineers to business managers to build, configure, and easily support the online services and internal processes that run your organization. You want to increase workflow efficiency and employee productivity, and manage internal content, with a modern, adaptable API and search engine framework that connects people, software, and data.

Action 2: Unify data with internal search tools, and surface the right content to the right user

Provide a systemwide search and indexing user experience that unifies your back-end stack, uncovering key data and information relationships between systems. You can do this by indexing data or content from multiple sources and sending it to our hosting service. The information can come in any structured and unstructured data format. Our search engine structures it for search purposes. Additionally, you can federate your search by combining distinct sources of data in a single multifaceted “federated search” interface.

Action 3: Integrate enterprise search functionality with your existing applications

Integrate custom-made search connectors and functionality with and across your existing third-party applications, such as Salesforce, SAP, Confluence, Google Docs, SharePoint, Jira, and other content management systems (CMS), enterprise resource planning (ERP) tools, customer applications, repositories, crawlers, microsoft, Amazon Web Services (AWS), social media, and business platforms.

3. The need for organized, insightful knowledge management from enterprise search

Enterprises often have great information, but they also have too much data to reasonably manage. There is no easy way to sort through and see the relationships between different data points or pieces of content. It’s hard to know what is important and would be worth discovering. And related content is underused.

  • Pentair, a B2B organization, is a key player in the international water resources and treatment industry. After implementing Algolia, they immediately started seeing huge growth in customer online engagement. To measure this, they integrated Algolia’s Analytics with their Adobe ecommerce platform, creating a front-to-back analytics data feed that indicated a 500% increase in product views following a search. With Analytics in place, they also began to leverage Personalization, segmenting their audience into categories such as residential and commercial. Finally, Analytics enabled them to perform A/B testing and benefit from Algolia’s AI-optimized relevance.

Action 1: Capture analytics, and feed AI and ML models

Capture usage analytics that feed powerful a AI with machine learning data sets and models in order to personalize, predict, recommend, and continually improve results with A/B testing.

Action 2: Build insightful and flexible search reporting

Create deeply relevant search and reporting interfaces that expertly visualize your analytic- and AI-driven business insights and search applications.

Action 3: Outsource your AI and ML enterprise search capabilities

Instead of building internal machine learning search teams—which is highly complex and can take years and consume enormous resources—you can get your AI and ML capabilities out of the box with Algolia’s insights engine.

For enterprise search: The journey and the destination matter

Enterprise search begins with creating a powerful Search and Discovery experience for your customers. But a hosted search API goes beyond that online experience: it can transform the internal processes and systems that run your business.

Here’s one way to look at it: Every single search user interface has the capacity to display one or more sets of results. That’s a great achievement when done right. But if you go further and start to combine all your search interfaces in one unified interface, you can create a consolidated (federated) search experience. That unifies all of your data and available items under one roof. You end up with a set of composable search engine APIs in which your data is hosted and accessible in any region of the world, thereby serving all your customers and employees.

The journey: Here’s what comes out of the box

  • Composable APIs and front-end tools for building applications that are as simple or complex as needed. Fully configurable and customizable for any use case or industry.
  • Fast go-live solutions with lower costs, fewer resources, and less of a need for technical expertise.
  • Pay as you go: enterprise search does not necessarily mean a high cost. You pay only for the resources you use.

The destination: What you can build

  • Fast and relevant online search to meet the needs of any industry and unique business. As a result, you can get increased customer engagement and more conversions.
  • Internal search built on top of a multipurpose, hosted indexing framework. You can use that to increase efficiency by enabling streamlined access to relevant information.
  • An analytics database to provide AI-driven online search functionality and a variety of business insights.
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