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Enterprise Search, 2nd Edition by Martin White

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Chapter 11. Searching for People and Expertise

One of the most important uses of a search application is to be able to find people working for the organization or to identify people with specific skills and expertise. The importance of employees being able to find other employees by name or by expertise is of crucial importance in taking full advantage of the investment that the organization has made in its workforce over a period of many years. Much is made of the benefits of collaborative working, but this style of working has to start with creating the best possible team.

The US IT company Autodesk created a visualization of how the organizational structure of the company changed between May 2007 and June 2011. In each of those 1,498 days, the entire hierarchy of the company was constructed as a tree with each employee represented by a circle, and a line connecting each employee with his or her manager. Larger circles represented managers with more employees working under them. The tree was then laid out using a force-directed layout algorithm.

From day to day, there are three types of changes that are possible:

  • Employees join the company

  • Employees leave the company

  • Employees change managers

The point that this visualization makes is that networks are constantly forming and (no matter how hard people try) breaking as an organization develops. Relying on personal contacts is not good enough to be sure that the best available people are working together on a project or task. ...

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