Enterprise Search: Half Still Annoyed
September 8, 2011
A couple of years ago, Martin White and I wrote Successful Enterprise Search Management. We spoke with various colleagues, reviewed the outputs of consulting firms, and we even listened to some of the experts on the conference circuit. Martin and I reported that somewhere between half and two thirds of users of enterprise search systems were dissatisfied with those systems. Our work was echoed by a number of MBAs, a few failed webmasters, and at least one New York City consulting firm who uses this blog to train newly hired “search experts.”
If you don’t believe Martin and me, you can read “Continues to Disappoint and Frustrate Users.” Here’s the key passage:
In a new study from MindMetre Research and sponsored by SmartLogic finds that over 52 percent of users report that they typically are unable to find what they are searching for using enterprise search within an acceptable amount of time. The report found that most users could accept a search taking two minutes, but searches which exceed four minutes are considered unacceptable by most users. Only 48 percent of respondents that use enterprise search said that they typically could perform searches under two minutes.
Set aside the “real” consultants and the trade associations which are floundering for traction. The data point to a “findability” challenge.
Enterprise search can produce some fascinating situations. “Real” consultants, poobahs, and unemployed art history majors can ruin a perfectly fine work experience with their inability to antiicpate consequences. A birthday without informed guidance can be quite interesting. Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/design-dog/4357801313/
I quite enjoy sitting in rural Kentucky, watching the “real” experts explain how to improve, enhance, and magnetize the “user experience.” The present situation is that hand waving cannot disguise three issues which are often an adult version of a children’s birthday party food fight:
- Recognizing a problem exists is a useful first step, but then what? Right now, I think there is more talk than progress in enterprise search.
- “Enterprise search” is a devalued term, and few of the procurement teams, vendors, and “real” experts explain what is meant. Little wonder, search disappoints. How can one solve a problem if that problem is not nailed with a tight specification? Vendors may be a victim of flawed consultant “think” and off-base management methods.
- Search implementations in organizations continue to become more complex; for example, the rush to social content in regulated environments is one interesting development. When the “content time bomb” goes off, talk about governance, user experience, and other trendy buzzwords will not impress. Enterprise search often means indiscriminate indexing, flawed content acquisition systems, and inconsistent application of access controls. Will a Google Search Appliance “fix” this situation? Good question.
What’s the quick fix? How does one extricate oneself from a content processing misstep? How does a chief financial officer manage the often NASA like cost escalation?
ArnoldIT offers some systems and methods developed here at the goose pond filled with mine drainage. Will we reveal our secrets in a free blog post? Nope. Snag a copy of Successful Enterprise Search Management. That’s a good place to start. Martin and I have collected some useful suggestions for coping with user dissatisfaction.
Visualize a birthday party of 24 children aged 10 to 11. Now imagine half or more involved in a food fight.
More than a smile is needed to regain control in my experience. But in today’s entitlement culture, expertise is as easily donned as a baseball cap.
Stephen E Arnold, September 8, 2011
Sponsored by Pandia.com, publishers of Stephen E Arnold’s most recent study of enterprise search, The New Landscape of Search. You can read his columns in Enterprise Technology Management, Online Magazine, KMWorld, and Information Today. He is also a contributor to Searcher and Newsbreaks.