Enterprise Search Just Not There Yet

By Ericka Chickowski Print this article Print

Enterprise search efforts continue to flounder, a new study reports.

Advanced figures released this week from an upcoming paper stated that enterprise search still remains ineffective, even as Internet search advances by leaps and bounds.

In a recent survey conducted by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) on what it calls “findability,” more than 69 percent of survey participants complained that 50 percent or less of their organization’s information is searchable.

“The pain of finding enterprise information has moved from the piles of paper on the desktop and in storage cabinets to the digital landfill of file servers, e-mail inboxes, digital desktops and content management systems,” said Carl Frappaolo, AIIM vice president. “Despite the advances made in search on the Internet, enterprise search leaves most users frustrated.”

Of the more than 500 businesses surveyed by AIIM, approximately 49 percent of respondents reported that it is still difficult and time consuming to find essential information in the enterprise.

These findings were reaffirmed by a report "How Do Information Workers Look for Information" released in June by IDC analyst Sue Feldman. It found that “respondents still spend far too long looking for information and that their success rate is still too low. [They] avoid their internal search tools in favor of the Web.”

In the past, Feldman has estimated that workers spend up to 10 hours each week searching for information and are unsuccessful up to half the time.

“Today’s users go to the Web to solve all their search problems,” said Feldman in her most recent research. “While enterprises are sinking time and resources into their intranets, their users are going elsewhere for their information. This study indicates that intranet search and information portals are only at the beginning of their adoption phase.”

Part of the problem may be that even organizations that do employ enterprise search technologies are not strategically approaching data classification or supporting implementations with the necessary brain power to help them succeed.

In an enterprise search report released by the Gilbane Group this week, analyst Lynda Moulton posited that enterprises are still tackling a learning curve and that negative experiences are often caused by a lack of commitment when deploying search technology.

“There is a lot of pain and seat-of-the pants learning going on,” she wrote. “It is clear from all responders that search products at every level, even those quick and easy to install, are not technologies that implementers can install and then walk away. Every interviewee, even those who would not have ongoing responsibility for administration, expects to be involved for the long term in some capacity to ensure positive outcomes for users,” said Moulton.

According to the AIIM survey, 49 percent of respondents have no formal goal for enterprise search within their organizations, and only 10 percent believe search is imperative to their organization.

In a paper released by Gartner in February 2008, analysts estimated that the enterprise search market will reach $1.2 billion by 2012, up from $860 million last year. However, Gartner analyst Tom Eid did warn that successful deployment of search software needs to be complemented with effective indexing and classification to make a meaningful impact on users.

“By itself, the search function has limited value,” Eid said. “The real value of search and information access technologies is in the ongoing efforts needed to establish effective taxonomies and to index and classify content of all kinds to provide meaningful results.”

This article was originally published on 2008-06-20
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