Examining the Oxford English Dictionary, there are more definitions than one might expect.
It's no surprise, therefore, with so many definitions of "search" in the English language, that defining it in the context of a technology solution and its value to business can be challenging.
Most of us when we think of search technology think about Google. We think of an engine which has indexed and cataloged our target content in a smart enough way that when we ask it the right questions it will tell us where to find the right answer.
But should we think more about the context of search? Maybe we should think of search in terms of the goal rather than the quest. If I know the content I want exists, or I have specificity in my question, search is a set of cross-hairs. I set my aim and the engine fires me to the target.
There's often a broader ambition to search, however. I might be searching for a product, service or business. I might be searching for information, written or multi-media. I might be searching for all of those things, but I might not know what I'm searching for until I find it.
I might be searching for inspiration.
Inspiration is the igniting spark behind innovation. It's the sudden burst of original thought where the human mind conceives of that which is not.
Search can be simply described as "the process of gaining insight". By no means comprehensive, but focuses more on the goal of search than the process. For this reason I think it's important for us to think about the role of Business Intelligence in the "search ecosystem". As well as searching for people and content, I also want to find results, reports and dashboards. If we think about this concept as "Maximizing Impact" we then need to think about what happens next. What do I do when I have found what I wanted? What do I need to do now that I have found inspiration?
I need to act. I need to affect change. I need to take what I now know, and with it do something of value.
To do those things I probably need to collaborate with my colleagues. I need to exchange the information and insight I now have, as well as my opinion.
From this example we can see how two of the key pillars of BPI (Search and BI) combine together to "maximize insight" - the breadth and accuracy of information I now have that I did not have before - with two other key pillars, Collaboration and Unified Communications. By forging these together I now have all the things I need to realize value from all of them. I am collaborating on the right things because I have been furnished with the latest intelligence, and I am making the most of the intelligence and insight I have because I can connect with the right people and processes to act on it.
If we through Content Management in the mix to make sure that the content I build is made available to the rest of my organization, we can make sure what I found out and what I did are things that other people in my organization can learn from.
Optimizing Search may not be having the best algorithm and the most effective set of cross-hairs. It may be providing the capabilities necessary for action and innovation to take forth from where search began.