Enterprise. The very word conjures images of super powered businesses churning out products by the second while a sophisticated computer system simultaneously transmits and processes millions of bytes of information at a time creating one awe-inspiring spectacle of industrial prowess - that's quite an impression from a single word. But what really lurks behind the scenes of these industrial heavy hitters? With so many different facets of a single company it might be expected that it would be very easy for important bits of information to slip between the cracks. Truth be told only a few years ago this practice was not uncommon. Vital data and documents from file systems, document management systems, emails, and databases were many times lost in transmission, saved in incorrect locations, renamed or just plain lost. As one might imagine, this caused countless problems when it came to recovering files and data for various reasons at later dates. Today, this is no longer as much of a problem. No, the solution does not come from hiring more intelligent or capable employees but from a type of information access software known as Enterprise Search.
So what is enterprise search and how does it work? It may be slightly more complex than one would care to wrap his or her brain around at the current moment but a definition from Webopedia conveys it as:
Enterprise search is an extensive search system that provides the means to search both structured and unstructured data sources with a single query. It addresses businesses that need to store, retrieve and track digital information of all kinds. Data sources in enterprise search systems include information stored in many different containers such as e-mail servers, desktops, messaging, enterprise application databases, content management systems, file systems, intranet sites and external Web sites. Enterprise search systems provide users with fast query times and search results that are usually ranked in such a way that the information you need is easily accessible.Complicated stuff? Actually, it's simpler in use than it is in theory. Basically, what all of this is saying is that a single member of a company, given the necessary administrative authority, can do a basic search of all these company components and have results "tout de suite." This renders the old style sift and sort virtually obsolete. The enterprise search can locate data with such precision and ease that what used to take a group of 5 executives 3 days to hunt down now might take a single cubicle employee a matter of minutes. This is extremely important in the corporate world where every minute at work can potentially make a fortune or lose millions. While the benefits of having a search platform like this at your finger tips might be self prevalent- the drawbacks are not. In fact, they are few and far between.
One major concern when the enterprise search systems were first being implemented was the ability of so many employees to access nearly all of a billion dollar company's data and documents. But not to worry, enterprise search software comes fully equipped with secure search precautions often providing multiple levels of authorization to ensure that only approved employees have access to confidential files. A very common type of security is known as the Access Control List (ACL) which operates on a document based level by acknowledging which employees have access to which documents. Another common, yet more complex type of security system, is known as subdocument security which allows some users to have a partial view of specific documents whereas other may have access to the entire file.
As sophisticated as the enterprise search may seem, its use is not limited merely to Fortune 500 companies. In recent years, legal issues have spawned a huge spike in the adoption of enterprise search as the Federal Rules for Civil Procedure now require that all companies are able to produce electronic records for subpoenas and inspections. Even many small to mid-sized businesses have incorporated the use of enterprise search systems because the smaller the company the more precious an individual's time may be.