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Where the consumer cloud and the enterprise cloud merge – Internet search

September 14, 2011

As you have noticed throughout the other posts I am a huge supporter of the distinction between the consumer and the enterprise needs in cloud services. There is one area though that is a perceived consumer play in the first place but has a huge potential for enterprises as well.

Internet search and the professional use of search engines

Whether you use Google search, bing or any other platform is not the important question here. But to what degree do you get quality results and do you access the hidden treasure troves of information?

Here are some simple steps towards great search results:

  • What is it I am looking for?

Often search is an ad hoc thing. Have you ever considered to use search as a competitive advantage or to conduct a strategic search on a regular base? Search can offer you so much beyond “who played the bad guy in Goldfinger” (btw, it was Gert Fröbe a German actor). Imagine you intend to enter a new country. “How to find potential partners?”, “Which of these are serious and healthy?” and many more details are available. Ever thought of keeping track of your toughest competitors through the internet? What roles are they hiring where, what have they announced as their R&D budget or where do they struggle? Imagine you find out through the social networks that one of the main products has a quality issue and you launch a marketing campaign addressing exactly that spot.

So make search a tool of relevance by moving beyond ad hoc search.

  • Which search engine to use?

In private live the search engine is mostly defined by personal favors, if this decision is taken deliberately at all. For business you need to be aware of the fact that there are specialized search engines on top of Google, Bing and yahoo. There are search engines addressing specific verticals and topics as well as regional search engines. Also you need to be aware of search engines by specific institutions if you are looking into patents just to pick one example.

Get to know the search engines available to you and use the power behind these.

  • Know your tools – Master your tools

A simple search string is managed by most internet users. I even suggest that a majority of users in the enterprise (white collar workers) do get easy manipulators like + or – right. But beyond that the majority of us just shifts through masses of results with no or low relevance to our real question.

I had a glimpse at the possibilities while talking to Eve Windmüller from Internet Information Coaching. The potential is so great that the old motto from my days at Fujitsu jumped to my mind: The possibilities are infinite. Manipulating the search so that the results have more relevance does not only save you time and therefore increases productivity but by unlocking results that were out of reach to you before you gain a competitive advantage.

Let’s face the truth, it is not something you can learn in 2 hours by studying a book or read some blogs. You need to learn this approach and that will take some time. On the other hand you can do this step by step and will see results of the learning almost immediately. But mastery of internet search will take time.

Get a professional coach to move beyond just understanding the search engines and how they operate. To make best use of these you do need a coach that helps you to formulate and translate your business need in a search strategy rather than just a search string.

  • Analyze the results before using any of them

I have often myself found great content only to discover it is some years old and lost relevance. The internet, while never forgetting anything, is a fast moving media. So make sure your results are within the predefined set of requirements (see first bullet).

Also be aware that it does not have to be true only because it is written in the internet. It could be a fake entry or simply a mistake by someone. Or the underlying definitions vary and as a result you talk about something completely different.

Do not expect the results to be entirely trustworthy. Cross check with other sources. Even a cross search on another search engine might shine some light on your stalled investigation.

The best advice I can give you is to treat internet search as a strategic tool. Get professional help by someone who is able to apply a business view on the search actions rather than just a technology geek who can make the search engine do fantastic things but lacks the broader business understanding to help you to translate a business need into your search approach. Internet search is a extremely powerful business tool.

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