Inadequate search cripples productivity

An inability to perform even the most basic of search functions is crippling organisational efficiency and sapping valuable time while employees flail around trying to find the information they need to do their jobs.

A survey of 170 companies by enterprise search firm Recommind, which focuses on the legal sector, found that public sector organisations are among the worst performers when it comes to search: only 63% of employees are able to search their email, while 19% spend half or even more of their working day looking for needed data.

Disturbingly, the financial sector is not much better, at 68% and 18% respectively. Search is most prevalent in the healthcare sector, with 94% of workers having access to such a function, but they also spend the most time searching for information: one in ten spend a full working day on the task every week. Three-quarters also demanded the ability to search more sophisticated sources, such as external databases, but just 23% had the tools to do so.

Overall, 79% of organisations want their staff to search for information as part of their role, but only 52% provide such tools. And the result, says Recommind’s European director, Simon Price, “is many hours wasted searching when a more effective solution could do the job in a matter of minutes”.

“It’s a basic requirement today for organisations to be able to search and find relevant documents and email,” he says. “A total of 20% [of employees] still can’t search documents and 30% are unable to search emails.”

Recommind estimates that a company with 1,000 staff members wastes £2.6 million annually by failing to provide adequate search technology.

The company’s figures corroborate the feelings of many knowledge workers. Rather than independently, enterprise search evolved as a way of addressing an endemic failing of the content management industry: rigid taxonomies and complex storage structures which failed to take into account human nature.

However, the current boom in search – leading vendor Autonomy recently posted 47% annual growth – is based not so much on a desire to boost productivity as the compliance nightmare inherent in not being able to quickly locate information critical to a case.

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