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SharePoint 2013 Search Feature Updates from Cem Aykan (Senior Product Manager, Enterprise Search at Microsoft)

Webinar Recap: Roadmap for SharePoint 2013 Search and why Metadata matters?

Enterprise search is one of the non-quantifiable benefits that come with many inherit deficiencies. This is because of the human element attached to it and our tendencies to perceive and allocate things differently on our mental nodes. It is more than running queries into the search box and getting results based on keywords and metadata, but it is more of discovering contents that we did not know we were necessarily looking for. Probably, this is the reason some of the experts term it as both art and science. While enterprise search is a broad subject in itself, the interesting elements are the advancements product companies are making to provide connected search experiences and managing information governance. In this piece, I am going to share some interesting developments.

Last year, my article “Fast Search Drives Enterprise Productivity” focused on SharePoint 2013 Fast search features and benefits. This year I would like to share some valuable takeaways from a recent webinar conducted by Microsoft and Concept Searching. The webinar was themed around “Why Metadata Matters in SharePoint 2013 and information governance” and hosted by Cem Aykan (Senior Product Manager of enterprise search at Microsoft) and Don Miller (V.P commercial accounts at Concept searching).

Roadmap for SharePoint 2013 Search

Cem Aykan, Senior product manager of enterprise search Microsoft took us to a tour of the enhanced search features in SharePoint 2013 bringing forth some contextual developments in search landscape. Here are the highlights:

Autocomplete predictions assist contextual searching

Providing similar experience as in Google, the auto complete predictions would assist users with relevant suggests. Unlike universal search engines, the new suggestions are categorized to fit well with user’s queries based on their likings and preferences. This is a great leap towards creating a connected search experience apart from saving time and allowing repeat search in an easier way as possible.

Personalized search is all about discovery

Significant development in SharePoint 2013 powered by Fast search features would now allow users with more personalized and contextual search results. This personalization would allow better room for discovery, which is one of the crucial components of today’s enterprise search. Searchers do not often get what they search. There could be plenty of reasons such as one’s cognitive ability to perceive certain things differently. The search term and search results would thus vary because of diversity of, perceptions and unstructured query terms used by the searcher.  To tackle this, the new search results would now extract significant cues fromsearcher’s profile, inferring more about their preferences, likings and patterns, thereby showing results that are contextually personalized.

Finding experts who are on it

Finding relevant experts for a topic becomes difficult in SharePoint, as people do not update their profile in SharePoint more often as they do in other professional social media sites. Hence,  information workers find it increasingly difficult to get relevant experts on a particular topic. Thanks to the latest changes that extract crucial attributes about experts. This is done by following them throughout their conversations, activities, groups and so forth to glean as much insights as possible to have a tacit profiling of experts. This profiling helps in correlating and mapping searchers’ query terms, thus providing the right subject experts to their seekers i.e information workers.

One search center for all

Since the integration of Fast search, people often wonder whether to use SharePoint’s 2013 native search capabilities, Search server express or the Fast search features. The good news is that the now the fast search feature combines capabilities of all the three and provides a single source of search.

Forward looking..

Cem Aykan, also gave a preview of coming updates that would enable search drive connected experience. Here is the roadmap for the future:

  • Gleaning insights from social interactions
  • Visually Engaging and actionable results
  • Flexible on premise, cloud and hybrid
  • Consuming diverse content and signals
  • Advanced querying options

While these modifications prophesies to make SharePoint search more powerful in terms of providing connected experience, what’s more interesting is how product company like Concept Search is taking it to a higher conceptual plane by enhancing SharePoint search features.

Don Miller, (V.P commercial accounts at Concept searching) highlighted some of the remarkable features of their products that enhanced enterprise search features and provided greater information governance and control. The most interesting aspects of it was leveraging of taxonomy and mapping structure to encapsulate content information using advanced statistical concepts rather than using manual interpretation of metadata tags.

The Path Forward

The human element of enterprise search makes it more complex and manual creation of taxonomies, categories and structures requires balanced perspectives. The automated approach bets on agreed upon Taxonomy and Mapping structure. Thus, it exposes uncertain scenarios like managing tags and ensuring better discovery in a geographically distributed team set up, with different language settings or encapsulating latest content addition. Lastly, quantified benefits of enterprise search.