Do you ever find yourself wondering why it's easier to find content on the internet than in your own organization? Maybe you need a Findability Strategy. Here's a look at how you can define yours. 


Users of commercial tools and sites such as Yahoo, Google and Amazon often ask why such findability functionality does not exist in the corporate world.

Providing an enterprise findability experience that equals those on the Internet requires a rigorous needs assessment and strategy.

The development of a Findability strategy has to be addressed deliberately and uniquely within each organization. It is not a product that can be purchased, but instead an environment that requires analysis, design and ownership.

Editor's Note: You can read more articles by Carl including: What Enterprise 2.0 Practitioners Should Know About KM Deployments.

Planning Advice

Each Findability strategy is potentially unique. For example, the steps taken to organize a collection of audio files for purchase and download by a general-interest consumer community may not work for a collection of scientific findings needed by researchers looking to increase collaboration and the rate of innovation.

What remains the same in each instance, however, is the need to coordinate search, navigation, taxonomy, personalization and interface technologies and approaches. Although the potential technical components remain the same, the individual features, make-up and execution should differ.

Begin the development of a Findability strategy by examining Findability scenarios across your organization. Assess the needs for Findability through a combination of content, community and context.


Perform an audit of the content that will be exposed trough the Findability strategy and ask:

  • How is the content created and by whom?
  • Where is the content located? How many repositories are there?
  • What categories of information exist?
  • Do different types of content require or have different tags?
  • Who are the owners of content?
  • What is the volume of content?
  • What similarities and differences exist within the body of content?
  • How dynamic is the content collection?


The types of issues that need to be addressed regarding the intended user base are:

  • Who is the intended community of users? Is it one community or several?
  • Are all users created equal? Do the needs of some supercede the needs of others?
  • What interface models remove ambiguity or fit well with the users?
  • What attributes make the content relevant?
  • How proficient are the users in understanding the content?


Pay particular attention to context. While understanding content and community is important, it is context that ultimately defines the intersection of the two. Context places the reality of content and the needs of the community within the demands of business goals and objectives. The types of questions that need to be addressed regarding context are:

  • What is the ultimate goal of the Findability strategy (e.g., to enable customer self-service, ensure compliance, facilitate e-Discovery, foster expertise identification, mine business intelligence -- or all of the above)?
  • What do users do with content after it is found?
  • How is the relevancy of content determined?
  • What access rights need to be supported?

Content + Community + Context = Information Architecture

In the end, it is not a single component that determines the best approach to Findability, but the intersection of content, community and context. In more technical terms, this is the development of an information architecture, an underlying foundation that manages all content and provides a flexible, adaptable interface to the content.

It should be appreciated that content, community and context can break out into multiple levels. Content does not have to be physically positioned as a single collection. There may be separate and distinct communities within an organization, each with very different needs. Such unique combinations of content, community and context must be examined, at least to see whether there is merit in specifically and uniquely supporting them separately.

With the Findability strategy clearly defined, you can begin to assess technology alternatives. This approach to providing “search” inside the firewall is rigorous. But the effort likely results in the production of a enterprise asset -- an ability to leverage corporate content, to eliminate reinvention, poor communication and miscommunication, increase innovation and responsiveness, support compliance and e-Discovery, and facilitate collaboration.

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