The Enterprise 'Google' Search: Time for a new underlying theory? - School of Computing Seminar Series

Start date and time

Wednesday 22 March 2017


Core44, room C44, Merchiston Campus

Many organizations have deployed their own interpretations of a corporate 'Google' search engine, in order to help find 'needles in haystacks' (coping with information overload) whilst also exploiting these information volumes to derive new knowledge 'crafting new needles'. This could be described as akin to a corporate exobrain, extending organizational brainpower. With the increasing use of search engines, some argue that in certain cases ranking algorithms and user interfaces have become an epistemology in themselves; how people come to know.

Despite investments by enterprises in deploying search engines, user satisfaction surveys show that people do not find what they need half of the time and dissatisfaction appears commonplace. Many organizations appear to change their search technology in pursuit of improved outcomes, with tendencies for 'fixes that fail'. This presentation will share some of the results from a study in one of the world's largest companies. This is the first large scale research study of an enterprise search deployment.

The study addresses the socio-technical factors and generative mechanisms for search task outcomes. These outcomes include user satisfaction, task performance and serendipitous discovery. The talk will cover aspects ranging from the technical (e.g. user interface design and ranking algorithms), formal (strategy, roles, processes, services and big data) and informal (literacy, individual and social norms - cultures both inside and outside the organization). Models will be presented for suggesting a rethink on how organizations view 'search'.

Paul Cleverley is Company Director, Flare Solutions Ltd and Information Advisor to Shell International Exploration