Azure Cognitive Search: Unlock Hidden Enterprise Data with Knowledge Mining

Article originally published March 2023

What if you could use Google to find internal work information and documents? Our team has created a knowledge-mining solution using Azure Cognitive Search to help companies achieve just that.

Artificial intelligence is slowly revolutionizing the way we access information, allowing for a more personal and engaging search experience than ever before. We’re seeing this with the inception of ChatGPT, Google’s Bard, and Microsoft’s Copilot. But even though traditional search engines, like Google, have been around for many years and are an integral part of the Information Age, they’re unable to play a more internal role within enterprises by improving productivity with the ability to access knowledge from enterprise data and documents. On the flip side, organizations have access to enterprise data, but lack the searchability to make it easier to find the right knowledge in a timely manner. If the enterprise information base could be accessed quickly and accurately, this could hugely reduce work effort and expenses.

cognitive search knowledge mining

By using the Microsoft Azure platform, Smartbridge was able to create a solution for this problem. We have formulated a Google-like internal cognitive search system that brings the most pertinent digital material to the searchers.

The knowledge-mining solution is a web app where users interact with it like they would with Google, entering natural language queries and receiving relevant search results from configured sources.

Key features of the solution include:

  • Web interface search bar
  • Sentiment analysis
  • Language recognition
  • Users can add comments per resource / data, and those comments become searchable
  • Cognitive Skills

    • Pre-built
      • Generate image text descriptions
      • Entity recognition (URL, email, IP address, person…)
      • Extract people names
      • Extract location names
      • Extract key phrases
      • Generate tags from images
    • Custom
      • Configure your own specialized skills, for example, specialized search bar metadata filters, such as “International Regulation Standards”

The computational power of our enterprise knowledge-mining solution comes from Azure Cognitive Search. Azure Cognitive Search is a cloud-based search service provided by Microsoft Azure that allows developers to easily add powerful search capabilities to their applications. The service offers advanced search features such as faceted navigation, geospatial search, full-text search, and auto-complete suggestions, as well as natural language processing capabilities for extracting insights from unstructured text data. It can extract information from a variety of sources, such as documents, images, videos, and more.

Additionally, Cognitive Search can be set up for businesses specific needs. It offers various customization options such as custom ranking profiles, synonym mappings, and custom analyzers for optimizing search results to meet specific business needs.

The solution was built with the following steps:

  • Store images and files into a repository (blob storage)
  • Configure Azure Cognitive Search capability to read text from images and files
  • Design a front-end application through Azure Web Services
  • Connect the Azure Web Services to the repository and Cognitive Search
  • Use the front end to query the repository based on keywords from Cognitive Search

Our knowledge-mining solution was piloted with a large construction company. In construction, employees can use the service to quickly search for specific project details, site reports, design specifications, claim images, etc. The operational search system was able to retrieve directly relevant PDFs, charts, tables, and documents instantly based on user input.

The pre-built solution greatly reduces time-to-market and can be set up in a few days to start seeing proof of value. Customized functionalities can be added in as little as a few weeks.

Key Benefits:

This knowledge-mining solution is expected to bring many benefits, including:

1. Improved decision-making: Knowledge mining enables organizations to extract insights and valuable information from unstructured data that can help them make better decisions. For example, by analyzing customer feedback, an organization can identify common issues and take corrective actions to improve customer satisfaction.

2. Increased productivity: By automating the process of data extraction, knowledge-mining can significantly reduce the time and effort required to extract insights from unstructured data. This can help organizations to be more productive and efficient.

3. Competitive advantage: Knowledge-mining can provide organizations with a competitive edge by helping them to discover insights that their competitors are missing.

4. Cost savings: By automating the process of data extraction, knowledge-mining can reduce the cost of manual data entry and data processing.

5. Regulatory compliance: Knowledge-mining can help organizations to comply with regulatory requirements such as GDPR, HIPAA, and others by automating the process of data classification and identification of sensitive information.

In summary, knowledge-mining with Azure Cognitive Search can help organizations to extract valuable insights from unstructured data, make better decisions, increase productivity, gain a competitive advantage, and reduce costs. It is a valuable tool for any organization that wants to leverage the power of unstructured data.

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