12 use cases where enterprise search delivers value

Learn how an enterprise search engine can help you too

Data volumes in companies are growing and the number of data silos in the company is constantly increasing. In order to be able to provide employees with the right information at all times, more and more companies are turning to internal search engines. Often, however, the idea of concrete use cases is missing in order to recognize the added value in one’s own company. Reason enough to look at various use cases in this article.

In the following, we have therefore listed various use cases, which occur dozens of times a day in companies, in which an enterprise search engine can deliver added value. An enterprise search not only helps in very specific situations, but can also help reduce a company’s overall risk.

1. The question of general information

An employee in a department has a sick child – he is entitled to special leave, but how much? The employee interrupts his direct supervisor at work and approaches him. Unfortunately, the supervisor cannot help him and refers him to the HR department. [Conversation & subsequent re-familiarization with task: ~10 min for both sides]. The HR department – also distracted from the actual tasks – gives the answer and refers to the guideline, which should actually be known and accessible to all. [another 10 min for both sides] Thus, an information that should actually be easy to find within a minute has turned into an effort of 40 minutes in total, which can easily be converted into a monetary one by multiplying the hourly rate.

Further comparable, daily X-fold in enterprises occurring questions, which are to be answered often in particular by the HR department:

  • What should I do if I myself tested negative but my partner tested COVID positive?
  • Where is the form to apply for X?
  • Where is the leave application for the current year?
  • What is our home office regulation?

2. Use of know-how from old projects

An employee of a construction company knows that a few years ago the company had a contract to blow up a bridge, which is not an everyday occurrence. In order to carry out the project successfully, the company familiarized itself with the subject, worked through regulations and cooperated with appropriate companies. The regulations, invoices, plans, calculations, etc. were filed in an unclean manner, despite the fact that the specifications were actually precise. Unfortunately, the project manager at that time left the company, other employees were not deep enough in the project. The researching employee now has the option of calling the former, searching through the depths of the company himself, or simply working through the issues again. Calling the colleague is unprofessional, but happens regularly these days. The own search is only crowned with moderate success (often 30 min and more) and the re-elaboration takes extremely long (days to weeks). With an internal company search, the employee would have found the right result within seconds.

3. Provision of information in the field at the customer’s location

A service technician is on the job site and is supposed to start up a machine. He has only recently started and needs information for a gearbox change for a model that is no longer completely up to date. There is a digital archive in the company that he would need to search. Since he doesn’t have access, he has to call the office staff, who try to click through the archive based on what he tells them. This not only keeps the office worker from other activities, but the technician also has to wait until the office worker has sent the information out to him afterwards. If it goes badly, then the technician waits only for the one piece of information and can do nothing for so long. If things go very badly, the office staff does not find the information quickly enough and the technician goes out to the same customer again the next day. This not only causes costs such as vehicle wear and tear or employee time, but also dissatisfied customers who wait another day for a defective machine and customers who have to wait longer for the service technician to arrive. With an in-house search engine, the technician could have looked up the information himself within minutes and would not have had to go through the hassle of explaining the problem.

4. Finding standard documents and templates

A project worker wants to prepare a final presentation. There are templates that can be used for this. Unfortunately, the employee cannot find them because the templates are not used often and she is unsure in which folder the file is. Instead, she sends an e-mail to a colleague, who is also unable to help her. Instead, he sends her the final presentation of his project and recommends that she simply adapt it to her project.

5. Search for mandatory documentation

Due to warranty claims, a managing director would like to find the protocol of a project that was completed a few months ago. He looks unsuccessfully in various folders and then instructs his assistant, who has to search for the document for over an hour.

6. Onboarding of employees

A new employee starts at the company and goes through the onboarding process, where he is taught the most important things about the company. When he gets his first tasks, he tries to find the information in the documents of his predecessor. During his many years in the company, the predecessor had built up a completely separate filing system. Unfortunately, no one can see through it anymore, so the information from previous processes all had to be laboriously requested from colleagues and sometimes by phone from the former colleague. He also finds it difficult to find information such as certain guidelines that affect the company in general. A comprehensive search engine would help him find the right information quickly and efficiently.

7. Selecting the correct version of a document

An HR employee defines new guidelines. She stores her drafts neatly in the DMS. However, she sends them to her colleague via Teams for checking. Unfortunately, the colleague comments on them in Teams and not in the actual storage location, the DMS. A new version is then uploaded to the intranet. Afterwards, further versions are added, which are ultimately located in different places. Unfortunately, at some point the colleague no longer knows whether the most recent version of the document is now in the DMS, the Teams room or the intranet. The enterprise search not only tells her where the various documents are located, but can also filter them according to the most current version. In this way, duplicates can also be removed from circulation.

8. Making demographic change easier through information

A service technician at a mechanical engineering company is a career changer and relatively new to the job. Due to demographic change, the company is glad to have found someone at all. Now the lateral entrant should be productive as quickly as possible. When he wants to start up an old machine, he wants to search for a specific piece of information. Unfortunately, he does not yet know the company’s special vocabulary and the industry’s technical terms. That’s why the technical documentation doesn’t help him much.

9. Support in the evidence of legal matters

A company gets into legal trouble due to a project that has been completed for some time. The legal department must prove that the company acted lawfully and that everything was documented accordingly. If the company is unable to prove this, then it is in danger of incurring a substantial amount of damages. Unfortunately, none of the employees can remember where exactly the document they are looking for was filed. With a company-internal search engine, the evidence can easily be found.

10. Search for responsible employee

An employee wants to know who in the company once worked on a certain project. Since some restructuring has taken place since the project, it is no longer really possible to trace who had what responsibilities a few years ago. However, with an internal company search engine, logs, quotes, and the like can still be found in order to find the right contact person quickly and easily.

11. Exchange of experience between different locations

An employee works in a company that has several locations. If new solutions are tried out, then one location first tests something out. Then a report is written by mail or on the intranet. If the employee wants to know a few months later which specific solutions have already been tested at other locations and what lessons have been learned from them, he must be lucky to know the right colleague and be able to ask him or happen to have the right document in his hand. With an enterprise search, he could find the relevant learnings and contacts independently of his contacts or by chance. In this way, he can build on the knowledge of the other sites.

12. Digital workplace with a central knowledge access point

During Corona, other digital tools such as teams and a learning management system were introduced in one company. The company’s key data silos are already in the high single digits. Now that the company is also committed to remote work in the long term, even more tools are planned to optimize the digital workplace. To do this, the company is giving employees a central platform from which they can jump off to various data silos. This gives employees the ability to find information even when colleagues are unavailable. The company thus improves the ability for employees to work asynchronously and independently.

The list of potential use cases and the resulting business cases could be expanded dozens of times with more examples and use cases. The fact is that data in the enterprise is growing exponentially. Much of the data is unstructured (documents, images, email traffic, etc.) and will always remain so. In the future, it will be necessary to provide employees with tools that enable them to find their way through large volumes of data. It is important to note that not only the amount of data, but also the amount of places where information is stored is increasing within the company, making the provision of information more complex for employees. In this context, internal corporate search engines offer a way of democratizing the knowledge available in the company and making it easily accessible.

Bastian Maiworm ist Mitgründer des Enterprise-Search-Tech-Startups ambeRoad. Er schreibt über die neuesten Entwicklungen im Bereich Start Ups und Themen, die im Enterprise-Search-Kontext relevant sind. Seine Erfahrungen als Gründer nutzt er, um die Digitalisierung und Zusammenarbeit zwischen Startups und der Old Economy weiter voranzutreiben und zu optimieren.

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