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04.06.2021 | Blog The digital workplace needs a central knowledge infrastructure

Whether in the office, at home or on the road - digital workstations give employees secure access to all the data and applications they need in the company. IntraFind CEO Franz Kögl explains why an intelligent search is an essential prerequisite for this.

In everyday work, an employee uses a wide variety of applications for communication, collaboration, knowledge management and processes. These applications are often not interconnected, which means that information resides in individual data stores and cannot be linked together. Against this backdrop, finding the information you need, whether it's on the intranet or on file servers, in email systems, Microsoft 365, document management systems or on the cloud, is becoming a Herculean task. However, what is already a real challenge in the normal working day does not get any easier when working from home. In addition, many companies have teams working at distributed locations around the country or even across countries. To be able to act efficiently, they must have intelligent access to all important information at all times - quickly, comprehensively and rights-checked.

An intelligent search facilitates the work

The central hub of a digital workplace must therefore be an "enterprise search" or "universal search". In the past they were often limited to pure keyword-based search, but these solutions have now evolved massively and can act as the central knowledge infrastructure of the digital workplace. One of the most important tasks is to enable employees to centrally search for and find the information they need from all relevant sources from the starting page of their digital workplace - and, of course, to do so in a rights-checked and personalized manner. By merging data silos, enterprise search software frees employees from the tedious task of having to tediously search each potential source separately. Also, many database-driven specialist applications such as a product data management or a quality system are forgotten in conventional approaches - but these are data sources that are essential for the development department, for example, and contain valuable corporate information. For easy connection to a wide variety of data sources - whether structured or unstructured datasets located on in-house servers or in the cloud - modern enterprise search applications offer a broad set of standard connectors. This connectivity is also possible for huge petabyte-sized data sets across multiple sites or globally distributed data.

Another essential factor is not only finding relevant information, but analyzing it and relating it to each other. This requires a deep linguistic understanding of text by the software running in the background and can only be realized with sophisticated AI technologies such as Natural Language Processing or Machine Learning. Artificial intelligence helps to automate routine tasks and processes, for example by forwarding incoming e-mails from a group mailbox to the responsible colleague, sending support tickets to the relevant help desk staff, or automatically recognizing confidential information, personal data, and deletion deadlines as part of GDPR compliance. Finally, an enterprise search solution also ensures that all users only see the information in their hit lists that they are authorized to see. If the solution is also multi-client capable, IT can supply various company divisions or even subsidiaries with their own customized search and knowledge management solutions via a central installation - in other words, enterprise search as a service.

Interconnected information as the basis for the digital workplace

The more data stores or disparate systems are created, the less companies know where critical information is located and the more time employees spend searching for it. As a consequence, wrong or missing information leads to wrong decisions. It may seem trivial at first glance - enabling employees to access interconnected information quickly and efficiently from anywhere is the basis for a true digital workplace. On the other hand, aggregating individual specialist applications on a single user interface is the wrong approach. Instead, employees need a central information cockpit that puts information from a wide variety of sources into context for them, brings it together and presents it clearly.

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The author

Franz Kögl
CEO
Franz Kögl is co-founder and co-owner of IntraFind Software AG and has almost 20 years experience in Enterprise Search and Content Analytics.
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Franz Kögl