The benefits of search solution are obvious. It helps you to find what do you need. Over the past decade Enterprise Search emerged to the level succeeded to provide a solution for indexing documents and additional information, mostly in databases, vaults, content management systems and ERP. PLM system provides a solution to search product information, since this information is well organized and indexed inside of PLM databases and vaults. Unfortunately, this product related information and documents is not available outside of PLM world. However, this information highly demanded by many people in the organization.
Enterprise Search solutions represented by two main groups of providers – traditional providers of enterprise search (Autonomy, Exaled and others) and general search vendors (lead by Google’s GSA) trying to get into the enterprise market. Microsoft, after FAST acquisition, provide an enterprise search solution as well as SharePoint and Express Search Server solution.
Gartner positioned top companies provided enterprise search solutions in their 2008 magic quadrant (bellow).
I think Enterprise Search can be connected to PLM system. By doing that Enterprise Search will index product data, documents and will make it available outside of engineering department for all people in the organization.