Search Engines Don't Suck, They're Just Limited - Part II: Well Beyond the Search Box

by Carmine Porco — Do you find that search results on your intranet are producing long, unwieldy and inaccurate results? It is a major problem at most organizations.

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Traditional view of corporate intranet search results

In Part I ( Search Engines Don’t Suck) of our two-part piece on the challenges of retrieving information from the corporate intranet, portal and enterprise systems we looked at how conventional search engines alone cannot deliver the information users need. In light of this, we explored the use of composite applications, such as custom intranet pages and portal workplaces, to interact more closely with enterprise systems, realigning them for specific information needs.
They draw on the capabilities of a collection of other applications in order to satisfy a business need. Simply put, a composite application acts as a conductor, instructing specialized systems to deliver certain views of information that it can either display to a user or, in some cases, pass along to another system for further processing.

Dynamic Composite Applications

Dynamic composite applications bridge the worlds of search and manually configured composite applications. Dynamic composite applications can automatically interact with and retrieve information from corporate systems in response to a search request. While composite applications require manual configuration of the systems and interactions required to solve a particular information need, dynamic composite applications are created on the fly. The systems relevant to the search request are ‘discovered’ in response to a search request or other query, the interactions are services (utilizing SOAP), and the results (both content and display) are defined by global business rules.
What does this mean in business terms? Dynamic composite applications enable companies to rapidly generate many different, custom and dynamic views of information relevant to a host of diverse business processes and tasks. Example uses of dynamic composite applications include customer views for each and every customer, project team workplaces for group collaboration, reporting dashboards for specific and, perhaps, momentary reporting needs, custom e-learning workplaces for every employee and so on.

Customer Views and Project Workplaces

A large engineering company was growing fast and had so many projects in the works that it was increasingly impossible for its employees to find and share the project information they needed to do their jobs well. They discovered that employees were spending a great deal of time re-creating analysis and re-doing work that had already been done elsewhere in the company.
For example, the company discovered that engineers on one project would often re-create engineering analyses and proposals that had already been done for another project, wasting time and money. Furthermore, account managers had no central place to quickly access necessary information for clients.
The company used traditional text-based search to try to retrieve information across the enterprise, but at best it picked out only keywords from documents and tended to produce either very wide or very narrow results. Furthermore the engineers felt that looking through long lists of documents wasn't really helping them find what they needed.
When introduced to dynamic composite application technology by Blanketware Corporation, called Instant Workplace, this company immediately saw that they could streamline project delivery processes, and eliminate much of the redundancy that was costing them time and money. With a single search, they could create a project-specific workplace for each client complete with proposals, contracts, specs, tools, discussion groups, contact information, account reports, project plans and other information from across their disparate web-facing enterprise systems. Furthermore, when integrated with the profiling functionality of their portal, they could deliver different workplaces to a project manager and an account manager, even if they entered the same search query.

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Dynamic composite application in response to search request ‘client x’

Dynamic application technology provides employees much better access to the broad range of relevant information they need to do their jobs well– be they customer service, project management, human resources, corporate management, etc. As a result, employees work faster and with higher quality, spend less time looking for information, and more time helping to keep their company ahead of the competition.


In today’s business environment companies must be nimble and responsive. To accomplish this, IT departments must deliver flexible and adaptive solutions that quickly meet the changing information needs of their users. Information delivery must be personalized, dynamic and changeable in an instant. Reports must be readily accessible and dynamically generated and all data should be presented with relevant enterprise wide information. Dynamic composite applications provide companies with this agility while simultaneously reducing the development cycles previously required to configure static web pages and composite applications.
The era of static, brochure-ware home pages is drawing to a close. 

A Senior Internet Business Consultant and a regular writer and speaker, Carmine Porco is the Vice-President of Prescient Digital Media. For more information on Prescient’s CMS Blueprint service, or for a free copy of the white paper “Finding ROI”, please contact us.