Friday, January 26, 2007

The Cost of Ineffective Search

Great article in Network World on the Cost of Ineffective Search. The author starts with a strong punch line:
A company that employs 1,000 information workers can expect more than $5 million in annual salary costs to go down the drain because of the time wasted looking for information and not finding it, IDC research found last year.

You think that's bad. think again:
A survey conducted by Accenture this month of 1,000 middle managers found that more than half of the information they find during searches is useless.
  • The Butler Group estimates that 10% of a company's salary are wasted on ineffective searches.* Susan Feldman at IDC found that 3.5 hours each week are wasted on search that don't turn up the right information.
  • People spend about 9-10 hours a week on average looking for information and don't find the information they are looking for 1/3 to 1/2 of the time.
So why is search so ineffective?

1. Enterprises are not investing much in search
Most companies are under-investing in search compared to other systems such as portals, dashboards, databases and other enterprise systems and are not using the latest search technology. The best search applications use concept searches and very few companies have adopted such technology.

2. 90% of the documents that are created have no useful metadata
Companies for the past 10 years have found it extremely difficult to get employees to add metadata to content.

3. The right data sources are not getting indexed
Companies need to figure out what search is used for (customer service, eDiscovery, etc.) and adapt their search strategy.

The Answer?
The semantic web is viewed as an answer to ineffective search. Recent research from MIT Sloan shows that using semantic search technology will turn up most desired results about 80% of the time compared to 50% of the time with search technology used by most companies today.

Improved metadata through a non-intrusive tagging process will definitely contribute to improved search as well, further indicating the value of social tagging.

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