Regardless of being religious or not, being Catholic or not, Pope Francis is definitely a great influencer of these days. While he definitely doesn’t talk about the topics of Information Management or Enterprise Search in the way we do on this blog, while reading his World Day of Peace 2016 message, something caught my eyes. He said:

Sadly, it must be said that today’s information explosion does not of itself lead to an increased concern for other people’s problems.

Certainly, he was talking about indifference and “globalization of indifference”.

But his message can be translated into our profession, too: In general, today’s information explosion does not of itself lead to an increased focus either. We have more information, but we don’t have stronger focus. Moreover, several studies say that our attention span is shorter than ever, mostly thanks to television, Internet, smart phones, e-mail, social media and constant multitasking.

Increasing our focus and attention span is not easy at all although not impossible either. We can use Search for this purpose, too. What we can do is to provide better results in better way. Because finding useful and relevant information should be easier than looking for the needle in a haystack.

Some tools we can use for search optimization / findability optimization in the enterprise:

  • Content sources – Adding more content source to our enterprise search solution provides more content to be found. (And also, more waste in some cases, see Filters below.)
  • Content optimization – with better content, search becomes instantly better. This includes the content itself, but first and foremost its metadata (see below) and security.
  • Metadata management – metadata is essential for findability, being manually entered or automatically added to the content. Using it only on the content itself has its own benefits, but it gets really useful if we combine it with Search. Metadata is used in facets, filters, results, scopes, best bets and suggestions, user profiles and content targeting, etc. Everything in Search is about metadata, never underestimate its value.
  • Permissions – if a user doesn’t have permission to a content, he/she cannot find it. Same is true on the other hand: if a user has permission to something, he/she can find it. Be sure permission settings are cleaned up on the content.
  • Filters – filtering out the useless and/or irrelevant content means removing the “waste” from our search results. Obviously, the best way to do this is to de-clutter the content source itself, but sometimes it’s not possible. This is why we need filters in search configuration.
  • User Experience – Once we have the content ready, the way we present it to the users is still critical. The user experience has to be solid, easy to understand and ergonomic. We have to research and analyze the targeted users’ behavior patterns and intent and align the user interface and experience to them.

As you can see, we have many challenges. Helping with information overload and provide a solution that catches and keeps the users’ attention is likely the biggest challenge of all. – As big that even Pope Francis talks about it.