The working world is experiencing an unprecedented spike in remote work. “We’re being forced into the world’s largest work-from-home experiment and, so far, it hasn’t been easy for a lot of organizations to implement,” says Saikat Chatterjee, Senior Director, Advisory at Gartner. “In a recent webinar snap poll, 91% of attending HR leaders indicated that they have implemented ‘work from home’ arrangements since the outbreak, but the biggest challenge stems from the lack of technology infrastructure and lack of comfort with new ways of working.” At the center of these challenges are employees not having a consistent and reliable way to reach the information they need to be well-informed. In some organizations, this is happening quickly and even starting to threaten business continuity, especially as more employees begin to rely on the digital workplace to be productive.
Any knowledge-intensive organization of significant size probably has a digital workplace that includes what could be referred to as enterprise search (even if they don’t call it that). Maybe they downloaded an open-source kit that provides employees with a rudimentary way to query across sources using keywords. Or maybe they’ve chosen the ecosystem of a large technology company like Microsoft, Google, or IBM, which tend to exclude content and data stored outside of the ecosystem. Now, faced with a sudden surge in the importance of quickly accessing essential information, regardless of its source or format, companies are realizing that these solutions fall short. Regardless of the initial path chosen, there are some fundamental requirements that must be seriously considered to maximize the value of an enterprise search investment. These requirements include the following:
- All enterprise content and data across time, locations, and languages must be securely available for employees to access without the need for risky data migration projects
- Data security and access control must be rigorously enforced by default
- Relevance and information accuracy are a must for users to do their work properly and swiftly. This requires different types of linguistic analysis, preferably provided out-of-the-box to save time in implementing enterprise search.
- Classification-by-example powered by machine learning algorithms must also be available out-of-the-box for scenarios where a rules-based approach does not suffice
- The user interface must be flexible and agile to support solutions for multiple use cases across the organization
These capabilities provide significant benefits for employees in the digital workplace in several different ways. Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits.
Having a robust enterprise search solution in place allows employees to quickly find the document, content, and information they are looking for, rather than spending time trying to contact other employees and disturb everyone’s workflow. This enables people to save crucial time, which can be channeled into more productive work.
According to data collected prior to the current spike in remote work, Fortune 500 companies were already losing roughly $31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge. Much of this “hidden” knowledge could be extremely useful in providing new hires with information that is not widely known by other employees within the organization. Making sure this knowledge is explicit and findable lays a foundation for a much more efficient workforce. Enterprise search enables organizations to surface the know-how and experience of senior managers so that the knowledge of the organization does not remain hidden when the employee leaves. With an enterprise search solution in place, your current or future employees can easily access this information and continue doing their work with ease.
It’s difficult to know with any certainty how much productive time employees are leaving on the table just because they cannot find the desired information or content they are looking for. According to a benchmarking survey done by the folks over at IntraTeam, users within only 25% of organizations surveyed are satisfied with the internal search functionality. And that was before everyone was suddenly displaced from their offices and forced to use online tools for the majority of their work. Having a robust digital workplace structure in place means easy access to information. Enterprise search in the digital workplace provides a central place to look for all files, documents, presentations, spreadsheets, weblinks, and other rich media. This makes it extremely easy for team members, irrespective of their location to access information from any device quickly.
Consistently well-informed employees can also provide better service to customers and offer better turnaround times. Since they are saving a lot of time, they can focus on the things that really matter and contribute to the business’s success more effectively.
The old phrase “Make hay while the sun shines” reminds us to make the most of our opportunities while we have the chance. In the current world health climate, with travel restrictions becoming more prevalent and events being canceled or postponed, now might be the ideal time for organizations to invest in tools and technology that directly drive operational efficiency. The positive impacts in terms of business continuity, cost savings, and employee empowerment can be enormous.
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