What’s in store for intelligent search in 2022?

The past year has brought significant changes to the digital workplace, with the sheer volume of data overwhelming workers, and increasing by the minute. To keep afloat under the hybrid working model, enterprises need new tools and technologies to handle disorganized masses of information without getting lost.

Moreover, the transformation of the digital workplace continues to be a top strategic priority of enterprise and IT leaders. Recent research from Gartner has shown that 58 percent of board members ranked digital technology initiatives as their top business priority this year.

To achieve this and many other business goals, IT leaders must continue to utilize intelligent search. What key trends will be most prevalent for the year ahead? I see four dynamics this year that will advance intelligent search and how it will shape the digital workplace.

Natural Language Understanding

The adoption of Natural Language Understanding (NLU) has been rising with steady momentum since its inception, with Google’s BERT in 2019 being the first of many language models to introduce NLU to web search. The result was an enhanced understanding of user queries on the web, leading to web search becoming better at analyzing what words mean in context with more relevant results arriving in the hands of the searcher.

To date, enterprise search has relied on continued innovation of NLU. But neural search, with its ability to understand the nuances of language, is now reaching the enterprise and will bring major improvements to search results, particularly in situations where past methods tend to struggle. Accordingly, over the coming months we’ll see more and more decision-makers recognizing how essential neural search’s capabilities are to their digital workplaces.

Knowledge management’s rebirth

Knowledge management is far from a new discipline, but it has become increasingly critical for businesses. The resurgence of knowledge management can be traced back to the recent pivot towards working from home. Remote work has magnified the importance of disseminating and finding information, regardless of where it’s located in the enterprise. Searching for information has been a constant battle for knowledge workers, with Sinequa’s research demonstrating that 71 percent of UK employees feel it is harder to find information on work systems than on the web. As such, this year, CEOs and IT leaders will be driven to ensure their employees have the necessary tools and information on hand to do their jobs.

Placing knowledge management higher on the agenda will have a positive domino effect for knowledge workers on all fronts. Better knowledge management makes work easier through readily accessible information, regardless of the location of the employee — or the information itself. Not only does this enhance the organizational agility of employees, but it also improves their satisfaction in their role — an important factor during ‘The Great Resignation.’

Information Unification solves Application splintering

The workplace has become more digital, employees are expected to master more and more specialized applications. These apps are great for task productivity — but the rapid proliferation of narrowly-focused apps, which I call app splintering — hurts overall productivity. Workers are overwhelmed by the number of digital tools they must navigate on an average day. They face more screens than colleagues! They must constantly switch between multiple applications just to get their jobs done. An average tech company typically houses around 155 applications, and office workers toggle between as many as 35 in each shift. These apps often don’t talk to one another, so it falls on the employee to keep track of which system houses the information they need. These disconnected tools also make it difficult for workers to adopt an efficient workflow.

Information unification helps workers navigate through such digital chaos. Leveraging the power of search, it’s possible to consolidate the disconnected information across all of these apps virtually — by quickly retrieving and unifying it at the point of need — rather than trying to build a single system that consolidates all of this content. Unifying information access across all of these specialized applications makes workers more efficient, increasing productivity and reducing the amount of time spent manually hunting and gathering information.

Information finds its way to workers

Knowledge workers are heavily reliant on finding information and being able to do so quickly and easily. The amount of time spent searching for information has formed a considerable roadblock to optimized time, and 2022 will introduce a shift in how information is found. Workers will spend less time finding information — instead information will find workers as the quest for information will change in both style and sophistication.

Custom Insight Applications will use the context of the employee’s daily work activities to search “behind the scenes” and surface information beneficial to their role and the particular task at hand. These applications will then prioritize relevant material to help employees whilst they work, surfacing insights proactively right in their regular flow of work. Placing information in front of employees when they need it means they spend less time searching for information, enabling them to focus on more important and value-added tasks.

Looking ahead

The momentum of digital change in enterprises shows no signs of slowing down, and intelligent search has become the way organizations find and apply information to advance the enterprise. The adoption of intelligent search is accelerating, fueled by the need to tame disorganized content and speed up information retrieval. Enterprises focusing on these key trends and implementing intelligent search as part of their overarching digital transformation and data strategies will reap the rewards with a more productive and engaged workforce that drives innovation, improves results, and increases efficiency.

Image credit: olly/Shutterstock

Jeff Evernham is Vice President of Product Strategy at enterprise search provider, Sinequa. He sets the strategy for Sinequa’s software offerings and leads Product Marketing. Jeff is a thought leader in applying technology to solve business problems and guides Sinequa’s product roadmap so that companies can become information-driven: leveraging knowledge to drive innovation, accelerate speed-to-market, and improve efficiency.

Author: Martha Meyer