Enterprise search and findability: 15% of organisations reach maturity

Survey reveals how enterprise search and findability are being managed and utilised globally.

Information ‘findability’ remains vitally important to most organisations, but businesses vary widely in the maturity of their response to the findability challenge, according to the latest 'Enterprise search and findability survey' which investigates how enterprise search and findability are being managed and utilised globally.

Over 80% of respondents agreed that improving the ability to find the right information in an ‘important or very important task’, and this view was uniform across all organisations regardless of sector or size. However, user satisfaction with existing search applications seems to be declining – 51% of respondents said that users were ‘dissatisfied or very dissatisfied’ with existing search applications within their organisation – up from 42% in 2012 when the survey was first conducted.

At the same time, business seems to be recognising the importance of establishing a search and findability strategy to steer investments in technology and staff. Almost 50% of respondents said that they have such a strategy in place, up from less than 40% last year.

The report categorises organisations into 3 levels of maturity and identify key steps that could be taken at each level .

‘Level  1’ organisations – 25% of respondents – are defined as ‘searching in silos’. 39% of respondent organisations said that they did not have the basic ability to search across multiple content repositories in one or more search applications, and 54% of organisations do not have the equivalent of one full-time employee working to improve search and findability. According to the report, investing in technology to aggregate content sources in a single search interface is a natural first step for this group: “Often such an initiative is made in conjunction with an intranet project, where the ambition is for users to find intranet content as well as people, news and collaborative content (all stored in other sources, systems or sites)”.

‘Level 2’ organisations – the majority of respondents to the survey – focus on technology to deliver ‘one search for all’: “creating an ‘internal Google’ is a common vision for early initiatives with the main focus on indexing as much content as possible and making it searchable through one single search interface”. The main drivers are the desire to improve operational efficiency and save time, often in an intranet context. Over 40% of survey respondents said that they expect to increase their technology investments over the next three years.

The report points out that technology investments must be followed up by a focus on how users search, with search analytics and user feedback processes being key success factors.

Similarly, significant improvements in search performance can be linked to an organisation’ s ability to carry out supervised information management activities such as the classification and annotation of content, and the use of metadata. Despite this, according to the survey, up to 50% of organisations do not perform these activities.

More mature ‘Level 3’ organisations – 15% of respondents – take a holistic approach, focusing on targeted search applications designed to meet the information needs of a specific user target group. The presence of a person or team with cross-functional responsibility for search and findability is seen as key, as are processes for taxonomy, metadata and content lifecycle management.

Over two hundred enterprise search practitioners contributed to the survey with almost 80% coming from European organisations. Respondents came from a variety of sectors, with organisations varying in size from 250 employees to more than 50,000. This is the fourth annual survey from Swedish consultancy Findwise and was discussed at last month’s Enterprise Search Europe conference in London.