This post is the first of a brief series of posts I plan to write about the integration of “people search” (employee directory) with your enterprise search solution. In a sense, this treats “people” as just another piece of content within your search, though they represent a very valuable type of content.
This post will be an introduction and describe both a first and second generation solution to this problem. In subsequent posts, I plan to describe a solution that takes this solution forward one step (simplifying things for your users among other things) and then into some research that I believe shows a lot of promise and which you might be able to take advantage of within your own enterprise search solution.
Finding contact information for your co-workers is such a common need that people have, forever, maintained phone lists – commonly just as word processing documents or spreadsheets – and also org charts, probably in a presentation file format of some type. I think of this approach as a first generation solution to the people search problem.
Its challenges are numerous, including:
As computer technology has evolved and companies implemented corporate directories for authentication purposes (Active Directory, LDAP, eDirectory, etc.), it has become common to maintain your phone book as a purely online system based on your corporate directory. What does such a solution look like and what are its challenges?
I think it’s quite common now that companies will have an online (available via their intranet) employee directory that you can search using some (local, specific to the directory) search tools. Obvious things like doing fielded searches on name, title, phone number, etc. My current employer has sold a product named eGuide for quite some time that provides exactly this type of capability.
eGuide is basically a web interface for exposing parts of your corporate Directory for search and also for viewing the org chart of a company (as reflected in the Directory).
We have had this implemented on our intranet for many years now. It has been (and continues to be) one of the more commonly used applications on our intranet.
The problems with this second generation solution, though, triggered me to try to provide a better solution a few years ago using our enterprise search. What are the problems with this approach? Here are the issues that triggered a different (better?) solution:
So there’s a brief description of what I would characterize as a first generation solution and a second generation solution along with highlights of some issues with each.
Up next, I’ll describe the next step forward in the solution to this issue – integrating people into your enterprise search solution.