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Internal Search Isn’t Just For The Big Guys Anymore
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By Francois Bourdoncle

Whether it’s in the form of e-mail, text documents or multimedia files, having the right information at our fingertips is essential for making business decisions. Regardless of the size of your company or the industry, information is our lifeline to help keep a pulse on our customers and competitors, and serves as the basis for making important business decisions.

That’s why the overall performance of any organization depends heavily on how well its employees use information to do their jobs. But first they have to find the information they need, which isn’t always as easy as it sounds.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses (SMBs) represent a startling 99.7 percent of all employers. So why is it that until now, search has been inaccessible for many SMBs?

Over the years, business search has gained a reputation for being complex and expensive, which in turn poses a challenge for resource-strapped businesses. The reality is that many companies end up spending anywhere from two to ten times the cost of the software in professional services to make the solution useful.

Previously businesses heavily weighed “structured” data that was found in spreadsheets and databases in the business decision process. However, employees must now balance this type of data with the unstructured information rooted in the form of e-mails, memos, reports, surveys, presentations and seemingly countless other documents in many different formats. This form of information is growing exponentially and currently represents more than 85 percent of all business information, according to Merrill Lynch.

SMBs and enterprises alike clearly need a solution that creates an opportunity for improving user productivity, and can help cut through the complexity and difficulty of finding information. Evaluating search products may seem like a challenge considering the growth of this market, but following are some helpful tips and strategies to help determine the right solution for your business.

Begin With Your Desktop

Whether you’re searching for an e-mail, a file on the server or for a document on the Web, all searches begin from your desktop. In recent years, the growth of unstructured data has transformed the corporate desktop into the key portal to access data within the organization. With this heightened awareness around desktop search, dozens of vendors, both large and small have released products for both business and consumer use. To help evaluate and determine which desktop search solution is right for you and your organization, consider the following:

• Does the solution respect user privacy? Does it respect the existing security policies within your organization?
• Is it easy-to-use for both novice and power users? Is there a range of advanced search features available?
• Will you be able to easily install and manage the software? Will it scale to grow with your business?
• Can the solution index the content within your organization? Does it offer support for a variety of e-mail programs?

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Francois Bourdoncle is the CEO, President and Co-Founder of Exalead.
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