Search in the Enterprise and HR Systems

SEO and HCM the start of a profile
Image: Eric Ziegler
Three weeks ago I started a series of blog posts about search engines in the enterprise.  My premise was that the search engines in the enterprise are not as good as the search engines in the internet.  I do have to say though, that this is most likely not completely the fault of the vendors that provide such tools, but more about the difference on how people create content for consumption on the internet vs. the enterprise.  This was the premise of my first post.  In the next set of posts, I started to propose that there are ways around the behaviors of employees for people on the internet and the search engines used in the enterprise could adapt to improve the search experience.  In my second post, I discussed how using the context of the employee can provide enterprise search engines a boost in providing improved search results. In my last blog post, I started to provide more details on what I mean by employee context by discussing connections of employees (e.g. following each other). I provided several ways connections can improve search results.  

In this blog post, I plan on discussing another part of how employee context can improve search results.  The Human Capital Management (HCM) profile is my focus for this blog post.  Companies have a wealth of profile information on each employee.  This profile information comes from the Human Resource or Human Capital Management (HCM) systems.  HCM systems contain data that captures who each employee works for and who each employee works with.  These systems also know what each employee's job title, where they are located (building, country, etc.) along with having the employees entire job history.   

HCM Connections : As discussed in my previous blog post, connections provide information that can improve search results. HCM systems provide many different types of connections.  The first connection is between employee and boss.  The second connection is the connection between peers on a team or within a department.   While the employee might not be following their boss or the people they work with, they still have connections with these people.  Bosses, employees and their peers all work together on projects, documents or presentations.   Using similar reasoning as the Directly Following example in my previous blog post, search results can be improved by these HR releated connections. The content created by a manager or by a peer should get bump in relevance because of the relationship between that employee and the person doing the search.

Location : Another piece of information that often comes from the HCM systems is the location of the person.  When I talk about location I mean, the country and city the person works.  I also mean where the office the person sits in, assuming they don't work from home.  If they work from home, this information is typically captured also.  Each of these locations can be used to improve the search results.  For example, if the employee is located in Belgium, and searches benefits information, search results should be returned in context, and not return a link to the Japanese benefits content.    Or if the person searches for what is being served for lunch today, the lunch menu for the company cafeteria that is closest to his building (if it is not actually in his building) should be the top result returned.  Again, search results in context.

While I highlight only two types of data from the HCM system, there is the potential for a log of other information that could be used to improve the search results for the employee.  Of course there are concerns that need to be addressed.  If there is personal information about the employee, there are privacy or security concerns.  But if careful planning occurs and the correct legal and security teams are consulted, the data from the HCM system can dramatically improve search results for each employee.

What other types of HCM data could be used to improve search engines in the enterprise?  What other types of connections can make search engines better?