Intranet Search vs. Discovery: How to Drive Better Adoption

How are intranet adoption rates in your organization? Do all your employees use the intranet to communicate and collaborate with each other, or do many ignore it in favor of less efficient methods of sharing content, such as email?

If you are struggling with intranet adoption, improving your intranet search and discovery can help encourage more users to take advantage of this technology.

The Problem With Intranet Search

Most modern intranets have a search function. However, this search function is often not optimized. Many intranet search algorithms aren’t able to take context into account, which means they deliver the same results to every user, even though those users may have very different needs.

This problem plays into one of the most common reasons for low intranet adoption: Users simply can’t figure out how to find the content they need.

Discovery: A New Approach

Discovery is an alternative approach to helping users find the intranet content they need. A system that uses content discovery automatically suggests documents that each user might find interesting or useful. The personalized selection of recommended content depends on who the user is, their connections, and the projects they work on.

This highly individualized approach makes content discovery extremely powerful — it can help keep everyone up to date with the latest developments by creating an interesting and constantly updated feed of content, much like the ones users enjoy on popular social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn.

Combining Search and Discovery

Implementing an intranet that empowers users to find the content they need does not mean choosing between search and discovery. The best modern intranets use both methods, combining them into a single search and discovery engine. These systems can suggest content based on each user’s history and habits.

For example, a system might advise workers to check out the projects that their connections are working on, or it might show them news that relates directly to their teams. When the user types a keyword into the search box, the search function uses the information that the intranet has about the user to display the search results in the order that is most likely to be helpful.

Machine Learning in Search and Discovery

The most exciting development in search and discovery is the use of machine learning to help people find the content they need. This approach allows the search function to learn from users’ past behaviors. For example, those who have previously shown interest in particular types of content are likely to be shown more of it, while searchers who ignore certain results are less likely to see them in the future.

Microsoft uses this technology to drive the development of Office Graph and Delve, both of which are very helpful content discovery tools.

Final Thought

When people can find what they need easily on the intranet, they are much more willing to use it in their everyday working environment. This can lead to a significant increase in productivity. Remember that if you want to increase intranet adoption in your organization, you need to facilitate both search and discovery.

The two approaches are not in conflict with each other; rather, they work in harmony to help users find the resources they need to help them efficiently complete their tasks.

Topics: Intranet, User Adoption
Daniel Cohen-Dumani

Daniel Cohen-Dumani a Partner and Market Leader of Microsoft Solutions and Services at Withum. He has more than 20 years of experience in the field of computer science and software development. He is a frequent speaker at SharePoint conferences and user groups, and a recognized SharePoint and Office 365 subject matter expert.