Hamid Turab Mirza
Department of Computer Engineering,College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering
National University of Science and Technology, Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Keywords: Information Extraction, Corporate Search, Knowledge Management, Document Classification.
Abstract: Efficient retrieval of the relevant information is a critical success factor for many enterprises. Despite of all
the advancement in the web search technology, enterprise searching is still faced with many challenges and
problems. Boundaries of the enterprise search are broad and expectations of the users are quite high, in
addition to many challenges faced one of the major problems is the difference between the nature of web
and enterprise searching. Many solutions have been proposed and techniques have been devised to improve
the enterprise search, but still effective enterprise searching is a challenge for the researchers and the
commercial companies, however it is realized that the solution for which will deliver enormous benefits.
Since nineteen fifties research efforts have lead to
effective ways for retrieval of relevant documents
from homogeneous collection of text, such as
newspaper archives, scientific abstracts, and CD
ROM encyclopedias, however latter on in nineteen
nineties there was a major paradigm shift and efforts
were made to deal with the issues posed by
enormous scale of data, great heterogeneity,
unfettered interlinking, democratic publishing, the
presence of adversaries and most of all the diversity
of purpose for which web search may be used
(Hawking, 2004; Baeza-Yates and Ribeiro-Neto,
Over the time web search technology has
developed enormously, today search engines can
quickly return results on single-word queries of a
15-terabyte corpus, furthermore new techniques
from natural language processing (NLP) such as
information extraction, automatic identification of
named entities, machine translation, taxonomy
generation and classification have been combined
with classic search methods and have shown
significant benefits. Broder et al. (2004) states that
this revolution has exposed hundreds of millions of
people to the experience of searching and taxonomy
browsing and has reshaped their expectations of the
knowledge retrieval process, and this is not only
while browsing the web, but more importantly,
while at work when they are performing their jobs.
An October 2000 study by the University of
California, Berkley concludes that, at the time of
publication of the study, there were 550 billion
documents on the Internet, Intranets and Extranets; a
number that increases by 7.5 million each day.
Delphi Group (2002) named this information
explosion a “digital sprawl” and points out that its
consequences can be just as disastrous to smooth
functioning of the Enterprise as the snarls of the rush
hour traffic are to the overloaded expressways.
Moreover, challenges associated with managing this
kind of information have often been identified using
the metaphor of the “needle and haystack”.
The current problem of overabundance of
information is affecting the efficiency of the
enterprises in general but specifically of those whose
operations increasingly involve effective access and
manipulation of information as their key operating
competence. Raghavan (2001) states that it is
estimated that about a third of the time of a typical
knowledge worker is spent searching for the
information. The IDC report entitled “The High Cost
of Not Finding Information” by Feldman and
Sherman (2003) quantifies the significant economic
penalties both in form of lost opportunities and
through lost productivity.
Turab Mirza H. (2008).
In Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems - AIDSS, pages 141-148
DOI: 10.5220/0001674201410148
Further it is noticed that on the contrary to
searching on the web, expectations have not been
met at the enterprise level. Knowledge management
in the enterprise setting and even simple document
search functions often produces disappointing
results. The same thing has been observed by
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research
Organization (CSIRO), Australia; that poor
enterprise search is considered a normal thing, it is
further pointed out that if the employees desire it or
the customers complain about it, even then the
organization as a whole typically fails either to
recognize the seriousness of the situation or the
possibility of doing it in a better way (Broder et al.,
2004; Hawking, 2004).
Although now there is much awareness that
effective enterprise searching will bring massive
economic benefit and many research efforts are
going on, but so far still there are a lot of unsolved
problems in this area. At present yet again
researchers are faced with the problem of the same
magnitude and dimension, as they were with the
word wide web i.e. how to bring highly effective
search to the complex information space within the
enterprise. Hawking (2004) explains that the present
work on enterprise searching is still in infancy and
so far the research just hints at its economic
magnitude, states some of the unsolved question in
the enterprise search domain and enterprise search
test collection has been proposed.
Majority of the information in an enterprise is
unstructured which means that it does not resides in
the databases. All this unstructured information
resides in the form of HTML pages, documents in
proprietary formats and forms (e.g. paper and media
objects) together with information in relational and
proprietary databases, all these documents constitute
the enterprise information ecosystem (Mukherjee
and Mao, 2004).
Hawking (2004) interprets the term Enterprise
Search to include:
Any organization with the text content in
electronic form;
Search of the organizations external
Search of the organizations internal web
site (Intranet);
Search of the non-textual and continuous
media held with in the organization
Search of other electronic text held by the
organization in the form of email, database
records, documents on fileshares and like.
The ultimate goal of the enterprise search system is
to respond to a request by searching all the
documents that may possibly contain a useful
answer and then to present a search result in the
order, which is of “maximal utility to the searcher”
Hawking (2004). Hence Broder’s (2002) “answering
the need behind the query” is also very much
applicable to the enterprise search. (Abrol et al.,
2001; Raghavan, 2001) have identified that any
enterprise search engine should have following
The need to access information in diverse
repositories including file systems, HTTP
web servers, Lotus Notes, Microsoft
Exchange, content management systems
such as Documentum, as well as relational
The need to respect fine-grained individual
access-control rights, typically at the
document level; thus two users issuing the
same search/navigation request may see
differing sets of documents due to the
differences in their privileges.
The need to index and search a large variety
of document types (formats), such as PDF,
Microsoft Word and PowerPoint files, etc.
and different languages (such as, English,
European and Asian languages).
The need to seamlessly and scalably
combine structured (e.g. relational) as well
as unstructured information in a document
for search, as well as for organizational
purposes (clustering, classification, etc.)
and for personalization.
The need to combine search results from
internal as well as external sources of
Stenmark (1999) has compiled a comprehensive
list of criteria’s to check the suitability of an
enterprise information retrieval system regarding
supported platforms, document formats, real time
ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
updating of the indexes, installation and
maintenance of the product. However, Hawking
(2004) has criticized that none of the 81 criteria’s in
Stenmark tables relate to the quality of the search
result and further points out that the required
characteristics identified by (Abrol et al., 2001;
Raghavan, 2001) do not completely represent the
complexity of the situation, as nowadays many
enterprises are building systems in which documents
are synthesizes from the paragraphs stored in the
databases; moreover any standard product should
also deal with the security and accessibility issues,
like which candidate paragraphs are to be presented
depends on the searchers interest profile and his
access rights.
With all the technological advancements in the filed
of information retrieval, it seems that search in
enterprise should be improving and indeed be easier
than the searching on the web, in the same way
employees also seek web-like experience in the
enterprise, but the internet and enterprise domain
differ fundamentally in the nature of the content,
user behavior and economic motivations. It is
observed that “good” answer to the query on the
Internet is the most relevant or the best matched
document, whereas on the contrary the notion of
“good” answer on the intranet is often defined as the
“right” answer. Since enterprise users might know or
have previously seen the specific document(s) that
they are looking for therefore unlike Internet the
correct answer is not necessarily the most “popular”
document; moreover it is emphasized that finding
the right answer is often more difficult then finding
the best answer (Fagin et al., 2003; Mukherjee and
Mao, 2004; Raghavan, 2001; Hawking, 2004).
It is expected that enterprise information delivery
must clearly meet the performances that users have
come to expect on the Internet. Although some
techniques for scaling and performance developed
on the web can be adapted to the enterprise, many
techniques for searching, organizing and mining
information on the web are less applicable to the
enterprise. Despite the fact that the enterprise
corpora are smaller; they lack the highly hyperlinked
nature of the web, hence the most successful
techniques of the web, based on link analysis do not
apply in the enterprise. This results in lower
relevancy of retrieval documents. Other factors are
of security, reliability and performance issues that
complicate the problem (Broder et al., 2004;
Mukherjee and Mao, 2004).
One of the many challenges faced is that content
from heterogeneous repositories e.g. email system
and content management system typically do not
cross-reference each other via hyperlinks, where as
on the Internet the strongly connected component
accounts for roughly 30% of crawled pages but on
corporate intranets this is much smaller e.g. 10% on
IBM’s intranet. Also it is observed that popular
PageRank and HITS algorithms that work extremely
well on Internet are not as good on the intranets;
therefore there is a need to employ other techniques
to improve the search relevance on an intranet
(Kleinberg, 1999; Brin and Page, 1998). Moreover
deployment environment for these domains also
differs, economic and time constraints in enterprises
prevent quick up-gradation to new technologies, all
these factors lead to the dissatisfaction of the end
user due to the poor quality of search result.
Hawking (2004) has summarized the research
problems that are arising in the area of enterprise
Defining an appropriate enterprise
search test collection.
Effective ranking over heterogeneous
collections characteristic of enterprises.
Building an employee portal - A
distributed IR problem.
Effective search over collections of e-
Estimating document importance for
documents, which are not part of a web.
Exploiting search context within
enterprise searches.
Providing effective search over
foreseeable future enterprise collections
of interlinked continuous media.
So far the problem of enterprise searching is a
challenge for the researchers and the commercial
companies, but the solution for which will deliver
enormous benefits. Although many enterprise search
engines are available but only few are able to work
with the range of databases, content management
systems, emails formats, document formats,
operational and security requirements of a typical
medium scale enterprise. The reason being that due
to the complex nature of typical enterprise
information space a highly performing text retrieval
algorithm developed in the laboratory cannot be
applied directly to the organization. Therefore it is
very difficult to measure the quality of the search
results obtained and very hard to approach the
effectiveness level achieved by the state of the art
whole of web search engines (Hawking, 2004).
One of the obvious solutions could be conversion of
all the non-web data of an enterprise into the web
format. Emails can be converted to html documents
using available converters like hypermail, in the
same way documents can also be converted to
HTML or XML formats. However (Hawking, 2004)
argues that this simple transformation will not solve
the problem, unless the converted documents are
interlinked and organized in the same way as in the
normal web. Delphi Group (2002) recommends that
new and enhanced capabilities like text analytics,
classification, profiling, search and improved
delivery components should be combined with basic
keyword search to provide enterprises with ways to
organize, find and leverage their information assets
into improved decision making and increased
Different researchers have worked on the
enterprise search problem and have revealed critical
findings; Craswell et al (2001a) show dramatic
benefits from the use of anchor text on Australian
National University (ANU) web, Hawking et al.
(2004) conclude that link evidence from the external
web is unnecessary for good performance in
navigational search tasks on enterprise web sites.
Upstill et al. (2003) have investigated the value of
query independent evidence such as indegree, two
variants of Page Rank and URL-type in homepage
finding tasks on three different test collections and
the ANU intranet data, the found that PageRank
gives no discernable benefit over indegree for
collections up to 18.5 million pages; Furthermore
considering the above mentioned findings it is
suggested that the following specific techniques can
improve the enterprise search.
6.1 Spidering and Indexing
Data must be spidered and indexed before it can be
searched, in the commercial world most of the
enterprise applications do not expose information
about what has changed; hence Mukherjee and Mao
(2004) suggest that adoption of search standards by
application vendors can help solve this problem.
6.2 Data Filtering and Search
It is proposed that clean data will result into better
search relevance; it also helps automatic
classification, feature extraction and clustering.
Especially for those enterprises that are going to
index external content it is important to use
techniques such as link-density analysis and entity-
extraction to filter the data. Mukherjee and Mao
(2004) argue that since intranets are essentially spam
free therefore it’s not appropriate to imply web
strategies like hyperlink analysis; on the other hand
rank-aggregation approach proposed by Fagin et al.
(2003) is suitable.
6.3 Classification and Taxonomy
Searching provides an efficient way for users to find
relevant information in business portals but only if
they know what to search for; research has shown
that presenting results in categories provides better
usability, hence there is a different need for
browsing and navigating information (Dumais et al.
2001; Raghavan, 2001).
Taxonomies are the most popular way of
organizing documents into a navigable structure,
with taxonomy users can easily navigate through the
category hierarchy to find relevant information.
Further it is suggested that scoped searching within a
category typically returns more relevant results than
un-scoped search. Well-known examples of
taxonomies include the directory structure of Yahoo!
and the Open Directory Project. Currently there is
need to do manual work in this area, although it is a
fact that manual taxonomy creation is time
consuming and expensive, but automation in this
area is still in its infancy and hence is not reliable
(Dumais et al. 2001; Raghavan, 2001).
6.4 Information Extraction and Text
For structuring, accessing and maintaining large
amounts of heterogeneous information, appropriate
meta-level descriptions are needed, which specify
the structure, context and potential usage of object
level knowledge. Liao et al. (1999) suggests an
ontology based approach for meta modeling and
retrieval of heterogeneous data, formal knowledge
and documents, further they identified information
ontology, domain ontology and enterprise ontology
ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
as main contributors to a vocabulary for
comprehensive information meta modeling.
Metadata in semi-structured documents greatly
improves content search and organization, but Liao
et al. (1999) points out that research at the enterprise
data revealed that important metadata in documents
e.g. author is often incorrect and is set to some
default value. It is suggested that correct metadata
should be enforced to improve the quality of data;
domain experts can be hired to tag or annotate the
documents manually, however manual approach is
not adequate for large volumes of information;
hence automation is necessary.
Moreover information extraction and text mining
are useful tools for reducing tagging costs, however
effectiveness of information extraction and text
mining depends on the document quality and
homogeneity of the target information entities.
Mukherjee and Mao (2004) suggested that removal
of redundant/obsolete data would benefit relevance.
Other techniques such as duplicate detection and
near duplicate detection can ensure that irrelevant
data is eliminated from active corpora.
6.5 Federation
In a typical organization, all the information is not
accessible to every one and there are cases where it
cannot be indexed or is forbidden from being
indexed due to legal or security constraints. Choo et
al. (2002) suggest that in such cases federated search
is the only way to provide a single point of access to
data from enterprise repositories and applications.
6.6 Use Base Relevance
Since enterprise users have their specific identity,
Mukherjee and Mao (2004) proposed that user
profiles could enhance the input context to provide
personalization and targeted search, historical
patterns of access can also be useful, moreover it
will enable the users to participate in taxonomy
building process.
It has been observed that people employ variety
of strategies when searching through emails, files or
web bookmarks for a specific item. Ringel et al.
(2003) has explored the effects of providing
important events as context to support searching
through the contents. On the other hand also there is
need to have a proper implementation strategy for
the enterprise searching system, Delphi Group
(2002) stresses that while an effective IR strategy
improves the working environment in the long run,
in the short term it requires people to make changes
in the way they work, without the effective change-
management strategy, any IR implementation is
unlikely to meet expectations.
So far many commercial enterprise search products
have been developed and launched by different
vendors; but still they are not very widely adopted
by the market, according to survey by Delphi Group
(2002) less that 25% of organizations have actually
deployed classification software, in that Verity is the
leading application deployed followed by Inktomi.
Others include Microsoft, Alta Vista, IBM/Lotus,
Memex and Autonomy. Following is a brief
overview of the techniques used by leading
enterprise-searching products:
7.1 Verity’s K2 Enterprise
Raghavan (2001) states that for each type of
repository be accessed, Verity provides a gateway,
which allows spider to access the content in the
repository together with the associated security
information regarding which user can access what
documents. Moreover it also provides automatic
classification, personalization, combined text and
structured querying.
7.2 Google Enterprise Solution
It is suggested by Google (2005) that while making a
selection of enterprise search solution a major
consideration should be to select such a system that
can index documents without adding overhead,
either for document creators or for the
administrators. Further it is emphasized that Google
enterprise search solution intelligently integrates
usability and power; hence will boost the
productivity and will put the intellectual capital to
7.3 Panoptic Expert
In large and growing organizations it can be difficult
to keep track of the employee expertise, Craswell et
al. (2001b) explains that Panoptic Expert is a web
based system which automatically identifies experts
in an area, based on the documents already
published in an organizations intranet. Moreover to
simplify the things a web like interface has been
provided to the system but instead of returning
documents it returns a list of experts.
7.4 Microsoft’s Stuff I’ve Seen (SIS)
Microsoft has developed a system called Stuff I’ve
Seen (SIS) that makes it easy for people to find
information they have seen before. Dumais et al.
(2003) explains that the two key aspects of the SIS
are provision of unified index of information,
regardless of the format and as the user might have
seen the information before, therefore rich
contextual are used to present information.
On the contrary to other researchers, Broder et al.
(2004) makes a point and emphasized that the major
factor is the integration of the technologies rather
than the difference between the nature of the web
and the enterprise. Moreover they point out that the
current advanced technologies do not work together
and typically each of them has completely different
view of the world, represent the underlying
documents in different ways and are concerned with
performance in different areas. Hence it is stressed
that the “missing part” is the architecture that
enables the integration of the technologies with
search and retrieval. Broder et al. (2004) states that
such architecture has been developed within the
IBM research namely, the Unstructured Information
Management Architecture (UIMA).
7.6 Search-Derivative Applications
Since nowadays searching is inherent in most major
business applications, ranging from all type of
enterprise content management (ECM) solutions, via
supply-chain systems, to enterprise resource
planning (ERP) and customer relationship
management (CRM). Hence Lervik (2004) points
out that companies that use an enterprise search
platform at the core of any business solution have
the flexibility to not only solve one problem, but any
task that can make their life easier and increase the
efficiency and productivity. Moreover Lervik (2004)
states that SDAs are the future of the enterprise
application development.
With the abundance of the electronic information on
the Internet, Intranets and Extranets, searching the
relevant information through the piles of documents
is a growing problem. Although on the World Wide
Web the problem of searching has been solved to a
great extent and queries do get relevant response in
an efficient way but the enterprises are still faced
with the problem of effectively searching their
intranets and webs; however efficient retrieval of the
relevant information is a critical success factor for
many enterprises and due to lack of it businesses do
suffer from significant economic penalties both in
form of lost opportunities and through lost
Since the web searching is quite effective,
therefore organizational employees have the same
expectations from the enterprise searching,
apparently it seems that since search technology has
advanced a lot so enterprise searching should not be
a problem, but on the contrary a lot of problems and
challenges are faced while the searching the
relatively much smaller corpora of the enterprise.
Enterprises are very complex space, and searching
must be done on different format of documents,
emails, relational databases, internal web and the
company’s web site. In addition to many other
challenges faced, the major problem is the difference
in the searching on web and an enterprise; and the
well-proven web information retrieval techniques
cannot be used on the enterprise data. Moreover
there are security, reliability and performance issues
that complicate the problem.
So far many solutions have been proposed and
different techniques have been devised to improve
the searching in the enterprise, it is suggested that
already in place information systems should expose
the changes in the data to the search application so
that it can be spidered and indexed effectively.
Moreover filtering, removal of duplicate data and
adding meaningful meta data to the documents will
improve the searching. Other important factor could
be creation of taxonomies and using the profile
information to identify the accessibility of the user
and to provide personalized and targeted search.
Although many commercial enterprise search
products have been launched in the market but it has
been observed that very few organizations have
adopted them. Now there is much awareness that
effective enterprise searching will bring massive
economic benefit and research efforts are going on,
but still there are a lot of unsolved problems in the
area of enterprise information retrieval.
ICEIS 2008 - International Conference on Enterprise Information Systems
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