The High Cost of Ineffective Search

Just a quick post to a recent article on the costs associated with ineffective enterprise search.

Tidbits include:

  • According to IDC, a company with 1,000 information workers can expect more than $5M in annual wasted salary costs because of poor search.
  • A recent survey of 1,000 middle managers found that more than half the information they find during searching is useless.
  • According to Butler Group, as much as 10% of a company’s salary costs are wasted through ineffective search.
  • According to Sue Feldman of IDC, people spend 9-10 hours per week searching for information and aren’t successful 1/3 to 1/2 the time.

As I always say, there’s a reason why “enterprise search sucks” returns over 1M hits on Google, including posts from luminaries such as John Udell and Tony Byrne.

While Mark Logic is not out to solve the generic enterprise search problem, I have long believed that enterprise search, as a catgory, will become stuck between a rock and a hard place.

  • The rock is the commoditization of the low-end enterprise search market through offerings like the Google Appliance and IBM OmniFind Yahoo Edition. This will suck the money out of the low end, the generic crawl-and-index market.
  • The hard place is DBMSs — specifically, DBMS-based content applications built to help people in specific roles perform specific tasks. Some people build these applications today by trying to bolt together an enterprise search engine and a DBMS (e.g., Oracle + Verity or Lucene + MySQL), but increasing I believe people will use XML content servers (special-purpose DBMSs designed to handle content) for this purpose.

When you think about it, an inverted keyword index can only help you so much when trying to solve a problem — even if you gussy it up with taxonomies and sexy extraction technology. In the end, an application designed to solve a specific problem will trump a souped-up tool every time.

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