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3 Ways to Improve Findability: Knowledge Flow Roundtable

by Devin Maguire 10/07/2020


For decades, enterprises have spent time, effort, and money iterating the same approach to search: moving and re-indexing data. Yet employees still spend over 30% of their time searching. That’s a productivity loss of months per year per employee. And as knowledge and people become more and more distributed, the problem is only getting worse.

Keeeb recently hosted the first in a planned series of virtual roundtables bringing experts across industries together to discuss challenges and successes improving findability, collaboration, and sharing in the enterprise. Keeeb’s Sid Probstein (CTO) and Tom Barfield (Chief Solution Architect) led an engaging discussion about how the technology landscape is evolving to support new ways of working that improve employee experiences and make it easier to access relevant information and collaborate. Three themes emerged during the session:

  • How to improve findability and knowledge flow without re-indexing via a search broker
  • How to raise the quality of search and user trust
  • Accelerating and automating knowledge flow by delivering personalized content when and where people need it


Evolving beyond the index with a search broker

Traditional index-based search has not significantly evolved since IBM created the first search engine in the 1960’s. And with the proliferation of data and transition to the cloud, the traditional approach of moving and re-indexing data has become untenable. An alternative is a search broker which rapidly connects to sources and deliver a comprehensive search experience without moving data.

In addition to deploying quickly, the ability for a search broker to connect to both internal and external sources means it can unify access to broader sources, including high-value paid sources which are key to building knowledge advantage. And when combined with tools that facilitate capturing and organizing information, a search broker empowers people to easily share information and contribute to efforts with which they normally wouldn’t connect.

Finally, the search broker is silo-agnostic and not tied to a single interface or environment. It can be initiated within established tools and browser interfaces like Google and Bing. These three elements – rapid connection to sources, the ability to capture fresh and trusted content, and distribution of that content into established workflows – creates a virtuous cycle where users have more successful searches benefitting subsequent users with related queries and projects.


Improving search quality

One of the major challenges that emerged throughout the discussion is improving the quality of content in search results. One cited example was Google. A Google search return millions of results, but few of them are the right results. Mostly ads, high-level articles, and content composed around search algorithms rise to the top. For information-driven organizations that rely on knowledge advantage, publicly available sources on the first page of Google do not provide differentiating information. Three strategies emerged to improve the quality of content and build trust between users and their search results.


  1. Draw content from high-value sources: Few companies have all the resources and expertise they need within the company. They need to supplement their internal knowledge resources with trusted content provided by experts. But accessing these critical insights requires users to seek out the content. At best, this means additional work. But too often these insights are neglected entirely. A powerful search engine should tap into these knowledge sources and make searchers aware of them.


  1. Show context and give users the ability to refine queries: Displaying the context behind why a result appears for a query and offering robust search filters and search tools help users trust results and identify relevant content faster. For a search broker, this means tapping into the native search capabilities of sources, supplementing ingested results with further filtering, and making it easy for users to access advanced search capabilities.


  1. Leverage user-expressions of value to drive ranking: One way to improve the quality of search results is to capture the content that successfully satisfied a query and elevate that content in subsequent searches. User interactions create implicit and explicit signals around what content is relevant for which users given a certain query. Not only can this drive search rankings, but it can also build automation to monitor sources and flow quality content to users based on interest.


Accelerating knowledge flow

The goal of search is to help people get smarter faster so they can be more productive, make better decisions, and contribute more effectively. Knowledge advantage is key to business success, but searching, gathering, and organizing knowledge to produce insights which then must be harvested and applied across complex technical and social ecosystems is a persistent challenge. With so much of knowledge workers’ productivity lost looking for information, evolving how employees find and share knowledge can both increase productivity and open new ways of working that ignite human ingenuity and accelerate innovation.

Core to this challenge is not just addressing what knowledge workers find but where and how they find it. User-centric and silo-agnostic platforms have the potential to interpret what happens before and after people search and learn to preempt the search (or the email asking for information) by flowing relevant content to users and letting them consume and then act upon that information where they work. This knowledge flow enriches the environments where people work and connects people and information more efficiently.


Continuing the knowledge flow conversation

While the roundtable conversation revolved around these three topics, we touched upon many more that influence knowledge flow in the enterprise: managing data security and confidentiality; supporting distributed workforces and the evolving digital workplace; maintaining the provenance of information and rewarding contributions; and how knowledge flow manifests in specific roles and industries. We will dive deeper into these topics and more in our next roundtable sessions. But we’d love to learn what aspects of knowledge flow interest you. Better yet, join the conversation. Please reach out if you would like an invitation to participate in our next event!