Always interesting to see what happens when you release some new findings out into the wild. What will people key on? Who will pick it up? Do they get it, or regurgitate misunderstandings and misconceptions?
In support of our upcoming Market IQ on Findability, and the free public webinar coming up next Thursday June 26th at 2pm EDT, we've released some early findings (see press release).
One shocking finding (to me at least - you?) is that 69% of respondents (to our survey of over 500 companies, executed in May 2008) report that less than half of enterprise information is searchable online. Ouch!
For those who believe that search is going to solve their "can't find it" problem, that's very bad news.
And in that vein, a fellow analyst (for Enterprise Strategy Group), Steve Duplessie (Founder and Senior Analyst), provided the following commentary on our press release yesterday (this is going to be surreal - me quoting Steve quoting us):
[Dan's Note: Steve's blog post]
Enterprise Search Still Sucks…..
This is absolutely brilliant. This is what makes my (pseudo) job worth it.
I just opened an email from Beth Mayhew, Director of Marketing for AIMM.org that says this:
[Dan's Note: Quote below of the entirety of our press release, minus the links. I thought blogging was about providing links to what you're commenting on, so users can form their own judgement. Or is this mere ivory tower mudslinging?]
"Enterprise Search Frustrates and Disappoints Users
69% of respondents report that less than half of enterprise information is searchable online
Silver Spring, MD – June 17, 2008 – In a new study on Findability to be released by AIIM, 49% of survey respondents "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that it is a difficult and time consuming process to find the information they need to do their job. The new survey of over 500 businesses conducted in May 2008, suspects that a prime culprit for the failings of Findability in the enterprise is the admission that 69% of respondents believe that only 50% or less of their organization's information is searchable online. Given the ready access that users are supposed to have in this "Age of Google" – how is this possible?
"Findability has been a common source of frustration in the enterprise for decades," states AIIM Vice President Carl Frappaolo. "As information has become more and more digital, from it's creation through to management, 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. Despite the advances made in search on the internet, enterprise search leaves most users frustrated."
Finding content digitally is only possible if pointers to content or the content itself is in native digital format, made available for indexing by search, and/or accessible by information organization and access techniques (such as navigational structures, taxonomies, bookmarks, etc.). The lack of such functionality in the enterprise is at the heart of user frustration.
But fault does not lie with technology solution providers. Most organizations have failed to take a strategic approach to enterprise search. 49% of respondents have "No Formal Goal" for enterprise Findability within their organizations, and a large subset of the overall research population state that when it comes to the "Criticality of Findability to their Organization's Business Goals and Success", 38% have no idea ("Don't Know") what the importance of Findability is in comparison to a mere 10% who claim Findability is "Imperative" to their organization.
The lack of strategic understanding, implemented plans and technological pros and cons to address Findability in the enterprise continues to cause pain in most organizations, although slow progress is being made."
[Dan's Note: Steve's comments follow]
- Duh. You can't find diddly in an enterprise or out. When does 2 zillion responses to search end up being helpful? It's ridiculous how much internal corporate knowledge is totally wasted because your own people can't find what they need.
- Not one to nitpick but "from it's creation" should be "its creation".
- Perhaps best of all – try to find out in this press release what AIIM stands for! The irony is superb. Better yet, go to AIIM.org – it still isn't obvious. When you search AIIM in their search bar, it takes you off site to Google, who promptly displays 326,000 results, none of which actually define AIIM as far as I can find.
So the organization assembled to deal with the issues associated with finding information does a survey that tells us that users are not happy when they can't find information, but uses Google to not find information that its members (or me) might like to find. I almost don't want to ask, but where do they keep these survey results? Have you seen 'em? Nope, have you?
You can't just make this stuff up. It would have been much better if they slipped in something like "48% of all data is entirely fabricated, but 98% of the time we can't prove it because no one knows where any of the information is".
So if this little brilliantly perfect example doesn't get you to realize that without an entirely different data-centric approach to categorizing and classifying data – ideally at creation – you are completely and utterly hosed, nothing will. E-discovery my butt.
And my commentary to Steve (he moderates comments [so much for transparency], so I'm posting here as well as tracking back to his post):
Steve - Interesting take on our research, thanks for the humorous commentary. Or was it serious? Hard to tell.
So apparently the very first link in the upper left navigation of AIIM.org, "About AIIM" wasn't good enough for you? Seems like a fairly obvious location to find such information, and if there are any best practices for website navigation, that would be at the top of the list.
Findability is NOT just about search. I couldn't have made the point clearer than that - so thank you for the beautiful illustration. Expecting search to solve all ills is a major failing for enterprise information management. Sometimes it's exactly the tool you need, and other times, not so much.
And yes, of course you're going to find thousands to hundreds of thousands of pages if you search for AIIM directly on our site. It does appear on every page after all. Perhaps you should stick to commentary on data, hardware and storage (which I will happily stay away from, except for those times when it intersects with my commentary on information, content and knowledge - that stuff that "data-centric" people would like to pretend doesn't exist or matter), since you clearly don't understand the way that unstructured (or semi-structured) information is indexed for search engine consumption and result display.
Incidentally, AIIM is no longer an acronym (or is it "AIMM" as you misspelled it in the 2nd line of "Director of Marketing for AIMM.org"?). Just as IBM is no longer "International Business Machines" (or worse I.B.M. - where does AP get it's guidelines for these things?), CA is no longer "Computer Associates" and the Web 2.0 API "standard" called REST is no longer "REpresentational State Transfer."
But again, if only you had looked at the "About AIIM" (at the top of every page on the site), you could've easily discovered that AIIM has (in the past) been an acronym for the Association for Information and Image Management. We've been around (with various name changes) for 65 years, and have around 50,000 associates and members in our non-profit association flock.
Lastly, you are nearly correct when you say "it takes you off site to Google," but not quite - but that's a failing on our part. That is the Google Search Appliance (note the subtle bolded "appliance" tag in the upper navigation), and the search results haven't been re-skinned for the site redesign that launched last week.
It could all be handled more gracefully and seamlessly integrated to be sure (although I'm an analyst - and not responsible for our own search implementation), but again, you're using the wrong tool for the job. Particularly if you searched only on AIIM (or AIMM), rather than a more targeted search.
Incidentally, if you had searched on "About AIIM," the page already referenced is hit number 5. Perhaps you are one of the search users who only looks at the first 3 results?
Thanks for making MY day - even though I've been helping to teach findability-related topics for 8 years now, I frequently wonder "Doesn't everybody already know this stuff?" Then along comes commentary like this, and it's clear that we're a long way from universally solving these problems.
Ah well, back to work! Much to be done.
So, dear blog readers - am I simply suffering from crankiness on this hump day (Wednesday), or does this just exactly illustrate why search is not the (only) answer?
There are many paths to the stuff you want to FIND - search, taxonomy or other navigation techniques, dynamic clustering, social recommendations, bookmarks, "pinned" results, visualization techniques to allow discovery of an information space, etc..Would love your feedback on this, and if these types of problems are causing YOUR organization issues, please sign up (for free) to the Market IQ on Findability, and the free public webinar coming up next Thursday June 26th at 2pm EDT.
'Till next time... Dan