• Mark Leher

Wondering Why Enterprise Search Isn't Working? Half of Your Search Results are Missing.

Finding information is a perpetual challenge. More content is created every day and information is everywhere. “I can’t find the document I need” is a common lament for enterprise search users.

What if the problem was that half of the information in your organization wasn’t even being surfaced in search? And what if it was the most important information that was missing? For most organizations, it’s true. A huge repository of knowledge and information resides within your people.

It’s always easier to ask a colleague for an answer to a question than to find it in a document and, most of the time, the answer a colleague gives you is more relevant, useful and up to date. Simply put, to make all the information in your organization available, you must also include information about the experts in the organization.

The Secret Lies in Rich Employee Profiles.

People aren’t like documents. Knowledge and expertise can’t be indexed by a crawler. Sometimes the true value is being able to consider and make judgments on a thorny issue. The knowledge that people have is the most unstructured of all unstructured data. There needs to be a way to bridge the gap and give employees the ability to identify the people who probably know what is needed to solve a problem. To unlock the potential of this human capital resource, each employee needs a rich profile reflecting their skills, knowledge, and expertise.

DiscoverMe skills profiles include fully customizable fields and skills taxonomy driven picklists to generate high quality skills and expertise metadata on every employee.

How to Create Rich Employee Profiles.

A successful rich employee profile solution has three elements:

Defined Skills Lists

Employee knowledge and expertise is the ultimate example of unstructured content – all this information is literally only in the employee’s head. Surfacing relevant unstructured content that is in a document is tricky enough. Enabling people to find highly unstructured content, like the knowledge and expertise in an employee’s brain, relies on good metadata.

Free text fields simply don’t do the job when it comes to capturing rich, accurate, and comprehensive employee profiles. Free text fields result in dirty, unusable data. One user may enter sentences, another may enter abbreviations. Some may be diligent and thorough while others sparsely populate their profiles. By way of a specific example, “HR”, “H.R.”, and “Human Resources” could each be entered by three different users. These clearly indicate the same idea but in the context of a free-text field, these are three different things. A search for HR would miss the profiles that used “Human Resources” and “H.R.”. Meaningful reporting on skills profiles at the enterprise level won’t be possible. Unusable and unreliable data means people eventually will just stop using the system. It’s not a recipe for success.

Defined skill vocabularies (sometimes called a Skills Taxonomy) solve this problem by providing your users with picklists of skills they can choose from. All employees will be filling out profiles by choosing from among a consistent set of curated skills that are relevant to the company and to each job function. Help your employees provide you with great metadata on themselves so you can make sure this hyper-valuable unstructured content can be discovered.

Customizable Fields

Companies need to be able to easily define the specific fields they want to collect from employees across a variety of business functions. Appropriate field set up is critical to guide employees to provide the skills that are going to be meaningful. For example, a consulting firm that provides international services may want to set up a field specifically for language proficiency. HR employees should be selecting skills different from those available to employees in the engineering department.

Defining your fields and the pick-lists that populate each field is an important way to guide the users towards the types of skills they should be selecting. This ensures relevance, completeness, and consistency from profile to profile.


People expect engagement from digital experiences. In fact, people are the most important part of a digital transformation (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/people-most-important-part-digital-transformation-mark-leher/) and a skills profile can be an employee’s digital home base in your organization. Profiles need to be engaging and interactive.

Employees should be able to visit other employee profiles and launch conversations, provide endorsements or likes, and give narrative recommendations to commend a colleague for a job well done.

Employee skills profiles are key piece of content. Treat them accordingly.

Making employee skills profiles accessible and available is critical to get full value from employee profiles and to provide complete enterprise search results.

Rich employee profiles created in DiscoverMe can be displayed in search results so that searchers can connect with the experts who can provide relevant answers.

Once rich skills profiles are part of search results, employees have access to 100% of the knowledge and information in the organization.

Search results pages are important, but don’t forget other areas where users access content. Experts should be featured on topic pages, intranet sites, and anywhere you are aggregating and featuring content about a topic. Rich employee skills profiles should be considered equal to or greater in importance than any other content sources when determining how to present information to your users. When people see expert profiles right alongside the rest of the enterprise content, it will emphasize the importance of the profiles and encourage people to keep their own profile current.

Delivering information beyond the search results page. Collaboration sites aggregate documents, links, and other assets about a topic. Rich employee profiles allow experts, the most valuable resource of all, to be included with the rest of your content.

The Takeaway

Information and knowledge is concentrated within employees. Enterprise search needs to go far beyond documents and must include employees’ valuable skills, expertise, and knowledge. Invest in rich employee skills profiles so that your organization can fully leverage the knowledge already residing in your organization.

DiscoverMe, from FidraSoft and WAND, is an employee skills profile and expert search application. DiscoverMe is the best way to create an accurate, comprehensive skills profiles for every employee in your company.

Learn more about DiscoverMe at www.discovermepro.com or sign-up to see a demonstration of how DiscoverMe skills profiles and expertise search at https://www.discovermepro.com/contact-us/