What is enterprise search?

Enterprise search definition

Enterprise search, or corporate search software, is a solution for finding data and information within an enterprise organization. Content can be both structured or unstructured data, such as product images, or internal business data metrics. Enterprise search software is used for search applications such as web, ecommerce, knowledge bases, and customer service apps.

Enterprise search lets users quickly find content on your site, aiding in productivity and efficiency. It can be customer-facing — like a search bar that allows users to browse your website’s content. Or it can be internal — used by your team to access business information, documents, and all the nuts and bolts of your tech stack, data, and logs.

How does enterprise search work?

Enterprise search works by allowing data to be indexed, queried, and displayed to authorized users. It works like any other search engine but is limited to content related to a given enterprise (often internal content).

Often with the help of a web crawler, an enterprise search engine can function in three phases:

  1. Exploration: Also referred to as the collection phase, this is the phase in which an enterprise search engine will deploy a web crawler to explore or “crawl” sites and directories for data. The enterprise web crawler then extracts the data for indexing.
  2. Indexing: Once data has been extracted by the enterprise web crawler, it is sorted into indexes or relational databases. This makes the data findable when queried. During the indexing phase, the search engine might also perform other processes, such as metadata extraction and auto-summarization. These processes also improve information findability. Indexing can also happen via APIs or connectors — native, which are fully managed, or self-managed using customizable frameworks — that sync data from a data source to your deployment.
  3. Querying: When data has been indexed, it can be queried by end-users. In an enterprise, employees can search for information, files, and documents, and receive answers based on their authorizations or permissions. Customers can query product and business information, or search for frequently answered questions. To answer a query, a search engine will review the indexes and look for matches.

However, not all search has to happen with a web crawler — though it is the easiest way. Layers of customization can supplement these phases. With solutions like Elasticsearch, ingest pipelines allow you to transform your data to create consistency before it’s even indexed. With certain enterprise search solutions, natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) are used to identify and provide relevant results to queries.

Benefits of implementing an enterprise search tool

Efficiency and productivity are key drivers for implementing enterprise search. Internally, enterprise search lets workers quickly find relevant information needed to complete tasks, increasing productivity.

Externally, enterprise search can also translate to profitability. Customer-facing enterprise search is more likely to convert a browsing shopper into a buyer. By improving customers’ on-site experience, by making frequently asked questions easily accessible, or by providing relevant product information or suggestions, enterprise search plays a critical part in customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

Enterprise search with Elasticsearch

Elastic offers enterprise search with Elasticsearch — a simple to set up, flexible search platform that lets developers build search experiences to meet business requirements and deploy them anywhere.

With Elastic, development teams can build customer-facing search experiences that are user-friendly and leverage the power of AI. Elastic also offers workplace search for internal enterprise search, which helps teams increase productivity and efficiency with knowledge sharing and content retrieval.

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What you should do next

Whenever you're ready... here are four ways we can help you harness insights from your business’ data:

  1. Start a free trial and see how Elastic can help your business.
  2. Tour our solutions to see how the Elasticsearch Platform works, and how our solutions will fit your needs.
  3. Learn how to set up your Elasticsearch Cluster and get started on data collection and ingestion with our 45-minute webinar.
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Enterprise search FAQ

What is the difference between enterprise search and Elasticsearch?

Enterprise search is the broad term for finding data and information within an enterprise organization. Elasticsearch is Elastic's search platform technology.