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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Do you have 38 minutes? Then you can help me find a document

9:39:00 AM Posted by Oscar Berg , No comments
Does it take 38 minutes on average for users to find a specific song on ITunes or book on Amazon? Or to find a video on YouTube, a presentation on Slideshare?

In this age of sub-one-second Google search queries, modern networking and T1 Internet connections, it seems ludicrous that any type of information-based search would take even 38 seconds to complete.

A new survey, however, finds that employees at big companies (with more than 10,000 employees) spend, on average, 38 minutes searching for one document -- whether that's on their own computers or their organization's networks, databases or intranet.

In addition, the survey of 200 respondents from companies in a wide range of industries found that employees are having trouble finding the most efficient and appropriate technology tools to locate documents or internal expertise. To find in-house experts, for instance, 71 percent of the respondents said they "ask around"; 46 percent said they use the company directory; 34 percent use the company website or intranet; and 30 percent said they send a companywide e-mail (and we all know how annoying those can be).

Just 9 percent of the companies responding to the survey have an automated system in place for locating experts. The survey was completed by Osterman Research and commissioned by Recommind, a maker of information risk-management software, so take the results with a grain of salt.
We should always take findings from surveys with a grain of salt. But it is reasonable to believe that the truth is closer to 38 minutes than 38 seconds, especially when it comes to finding experts (or answers by experts).

If you have a business on the web, you know - or will soon find out - that bad findability will kill your business. Consumers will just turn to someone else who provides a service with better findability. Only monopoly or unique products or services can survive bad findability. In the short run, that is. Sooner or later, there will be someone else who your customers can turn to.

Inside corporate firewalls, the consequences of bad findability are less immediate, harder to measure and less visible. The connections to the bottom line results are harder to trace. But bad findability internally will nonetheless lead to death, although a slow and painful one.


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