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Enterprise Search 1.0 failing to meet business needs: report

UK firms waste £2.6m a year hunting for data

By Steve Evans

A new study from search vendor Recommind has revealed that UK firms waste £2.6m every year as workers cannot find the data they need to do their jobs. The firm says that one-size-fits-all ‘enterprise search 1.0’ systems are no longer capable of meeting the needs of modern enterprises.

The survey quizzed CIOs and IT directors at 170 UK organisations with more than 1,000 employees and found that with current search technology in place, most businesses are capable of searching just 50% of the information that their employees need for their daily tasks.

Recommind says this has resulted in wasted hours as employees unsuccessfully search for the required information. Around a quarter of respondents claimed workers spend more than half a day a week on this task. The company estimates that for a company with 1,000 employees, this equates to upwards of £50,000 worth of lost time a week, or £2.6m a year.

Simon Price, European director at Recommind, said: “Enterprise Search 1.0 is dead – it’s not up to finding even basic information in context, let alone empowering individuals to share knowledge and expertise in an easy and convenient way.”

Nearly all organisations (94%) said that they wanted the ability to search through documents such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint while 86% said they also wanted to search through their own email. However the research revealed that just 81% of businesses said their enterprise search platform covered documents, with 72% able to search their own email.

The vast majority (70%) of respondents said they wanted to be able to access external information sources during searches but just 34% said they had the tools in place to enable this. The same number of workers were able to search for expertise within their company, despite 64% wanting to be able to do so.

Speaking at a roundtable to mark the launch of the survey, Craig Carpenter, VP of marketing at Recommind, said: “The fact that people cannot find expertise within an organisation or search external and internal sources with one search is surprising. It’s a basic part of enterprise search.”

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With companies now storing huge amounts of data, enterprise search platforms need to be more in-tune with what users are looking for and the different ways in which they use search, said Carpenter. “A search for Java can turn up information about programming, coffee or the Indonesian island and people may also use different spellings for common words, such as licence with a c or s,” he said.

The legal sector, Recommind’s traditional stronghold, is one industry where the ability to quickly and correctly search through data is vital. Price said: “Information is increasingly recognised as the most valuable business currency – but with the sheer volume plaguing organisations today, it can actually create major challenges for companies if employees are struggling to locate the information they need for their jobs.”

Duncan Ogilvy, knowledge management partner at law firm Mills & Reeve, a recent Recommind customer, said: “People ask why we can’t just use Google, but if I did a web search for hotels in Paris, for example, the top eight results would be fine. The ninth might be perfect as well, but that doesn’t matter because I’ve already quickly got what I needed. But that doesn’t apply in the legal sector. It’s negligent not to do a full search.”

Ogilvy added that he expects his firm to recover its investment cost within two years. “After evaluating a number of solutions on the market today, it quickly became clear that many solutions are just too basic and fail to meet these needs. Investing in the right technology is a key part of this and if staff are able to quickly, easily and accurately access all the information they need, the productivity gains and cost savings can be tremendous,” he said.

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