By far the most popular way to track down information that is not easily available to hand is by using an internet search engine. Facilities such as Google provide a window onto the World Wide Web which most users find quicker and easier to operate than any form of hierarchical menu system or index supplied through a portal (gateway page). This major shift in consumer behaviour has taken place extremely rapidly, but is already deep-rooted. Employees will be very disappointed if they cannot replicate this process when accessing their organisation’s data on the intranet.
It’s important that the search engine that’s used on an organisation’s intranet is as similar in scope and power to the familiar internet tools as possible. That means the ability to search documents as well as web pages and to return results in the blink of an eye. Enterprise software, such as knowledge management systems and learning management systems, can be a problem if the main intranet search engine can’t see inside; no-one wants to have to use a different search facility for each system if they can avoid it.
Employees may benefit from some guidance in the use of search techniques which will reduce the quantity of items returned and increase their relevance. Content contributors could also be usefully steered to using techniques which help the search engine to index appropriately, including the use of meaningful titles, tags and descriptions.
An intranet search engine is:
- at its best when it is as fast as the internet equivalent, it indexes documents as well as web pages, it can search within enterprise systems such as learning management systems or knowledge management systems;
- best avoided when slow, covers only a limited body of information.