2014-14-October-Surveyor.jpgWe've reached an understanding over the last few years around issues related to the low level of enterprise search implementations and the lack of user confidence in search results. A number of surveys published in 2014 have investigated how search is being implemented and some wider issues of managing enterprise information. Let's take a look at the lay of the land.

Large-Scale Surveys

Both AIIM and Findwise have published large-scale (in terms of the number of questions asked) surveys of search adoption and implementation in the last few months. The AIIM survey is geographically biased towards North America and has a particular focus on the role of Enterprise Content Management applications delivering enterprise search. It also includes a valuable section on e-Discovery implementation. The Findwise survey has a European bias and sets out the results in the context of the information life cycle.

Both surveys seek to bring together a set of responses which can be interpreted as a "search maturity" index. The level of analysis in both is excellent. Within the limits of statistical confidence, there is very good alignment in the main outcomes of the two surveys. Stephen Arnold has written a very good analysis of some aspects of the AIIM survey.

Search Security Management

Both surveys cover the issue of security management. The AIIM survey indicates that security concerns are a "show-stopper" for 31 percent of respondents and a major concern for 41 percent. These concerns are echoed in a very useful survey published by Varonis. Although somewhat ad hoc, in that the respondents were present at a security management conference, the survey reinforces the importance of security in a search implementation.

The AIIM survey notes,

Although specific personal or HR information may be protected by folder rights or file passwords, security for operational matters are often defined by a restricted email circulation list, something that a search algorithm would struggle to interpret. It would be unfortunate if the search security issue drove some users towards disconnected repositories and devices.”

Text Analytics

The boundary between text analytics and enterprise search is getting increasingly fuzzy. It's important that the search and analytics communities work closely together to provide high-quality business critical information to managers.

Seth Grimes and his colleagues in Alta Plana have been following trends in text analytics for more than a decade. Its 2014 study is full of data and sets a very high standard in presentation and analysis. One of the stand out elements of the 2014 report is the comparison with surveys carried in 2009 and 2011. The AIIM survey is new for 2014 and although the Findwise survey started in 2012, the results for 2012 and 2013 are not directly comparable with the 2014 study.

Managing Enterprise Information

Search is just one element of effective enterprise information management. A number of studies this year have taken a broader perspective of the way in which organizations manage their information assets. Huddle has published two studies: one on enterprise information management and one on mobile information management.

According to Huddle, organizations are on the brink of a significant crisis as employees increasingly rely on personal cloud. The survey indicates that a staggering 91 percent of US and UK employees store, access, share and work on enterprise documents via personal devices. According to the report, 64 percent of office workers in US organizations (and 60 percent of UK ones) use external hard drives to store work documents, and 46 percent of both US and UK firms use USB drives. Some 34 percent of US and 33 percent of UK organizations also admit to using USBs to share documentation with others.

One of the most interesting reports comes from the Information Governance Institute (IGI), a US-based organization which is seeking to increase awareness around the need for effective information governance. The IGI defines information governance as the activities and technologies that organizations employ to maximize the value of their information while minimizing associated risks and costs. There is a wealth of information and very high quality analysis in the IGI 2014 Annual Report.

Other Reports

Finally I should mention a survey by Concept Searching of the use of metadata in SharePoint 2013 and Office 365 applications which contains information of more general interest, a survey carried out by IDC under a commission from Coveo on the impact of search and analytics on knowledge management and the invaluable reports from NetStrategy/JMC on Digital Workplace Trends, which highlight the importance of search in developing digital workplaces.

Sadly, the takeaway from all of these reports is that although search is gradually being recognized as a core business application, organizations still lag behind in search adoption levels and providing resources towards search investments, leaving the overflow of organizational information underutilized.

Title image by Shelly (Flickr) via a CC BY 2.0 license