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Over the years, Accenture—a $27.9 billion global enterprise with more than 261,000 employees—has made substantial investments in its extensive internal repository of reusable content. These investments pay huge dividends—but only if the right content can be found by the right people at the right time.
So what happens when an enterprise search engine doesn’t perform as it should, with slow response times, disorganized results, and high levels of user dissatisfaction? A new strategic program to improve Accenture’s enterprise search environment is helping employees carry out their responsibilities more quickly and effectively.
The importance of a high-performing internal search engine for a global knowledge-based business of more than 261,000 employees cannot be overstated.
Enhancements to Accenture’s search capability began in 2008, when a central search application replaced multiple, specialized search capabilities. Over time, however, the search index grew as new and expanded content sources were added, and the number of searches executed increased to millions of queries per month. This taxed the search infrastructure, resulting in slower response, cluttered and disorganized results, and lower user satisfaction.
In September 2011, a new Search Center of Excellence team was formed by the internal IT organization to address these issues. The team’s goal was not to complete a one-time ‘fix-search’ initiative, but rather to establish ongoing processes and tools to measure and improve search quality. The team began analyzing the search technologies in use, networking across Accenture’s alliances to assess comparative performance, and defined a roadmap to deliver a superior search capability.
The team developed a four-pronged strategy, focusing on:
Attention was also focused on a new and exploding source of content: social media. Blogs and other social content constitute great pockets of expertise, but also pose technical challenges for search engines. The team knew it had to devise practical rules for making social media visible without cluttering search with irrelevant results.
Upon completing this formal assessment of the existing search capability, the team began implementation of its recommended solution in January 2012. Its strategy was holistic, attacking the challenge from all angles.
After a year of intensive development and incremental improvements, a new and improved Accenture search engine was unveiled in August 2012. Faster, intuitive and with more relevant results than ever before, the new engine is winning plaudits from users across Accenture’s global network. In the five months after the launch, users who rated themselves ‘satisfied’ with the quality of their search results increased by 70 percent.
“Once we started adjusting the engine’s ranking settings, excluded unwanted results from the index, and improved content to be more findable, users started giving us rave reviews,” reports Paul Zak, program manager with the Search Center of Excellence team. “They could not believe search results were so much better.”
While Accenture’s journey to search excellence is an ongoing one, the Search Center of Excellence has led the way in a major upgrade of its capabilities. Furthermore, it has established a continuous improvement program to ensure month-to-month incremental enhancement of the search function, to keep pace with the rate of change and increased reliance on Accenture’s immense internal knowledge base.
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