Intranet search is appalling because people don't want their content to get found, and the organization does not value the importance of finding.Why do so many of the best organizations in the world have ass-and-cart search engines? The quality of search is astonishingly bad within most organizations. And what's even more astonishing, nobody's in charge and nobody really cares. I know of organizations that have 20,000, 40,000, 60,000 people, that don't have a single fulltime resource allocated to helping staff find stuff on their intranets. In 2008, how can we still have such management oversight and negligence? Search is important. Really important. Google continues to be voted the world's most valuable brand. Why? It's just a search engine! All it does is help us find stuff quickly. But we know, don't we, that finding stuff quickly in this information saturated world, is the critical first step in getting stuff done. "Nowadays when "search rules" on the internet, it is disappointing that nearly 3 out of 5 organizations are "not really satisfied" or "not satisfied at all" with their intranet search. However, well over half have "less than one person" who works on supporting and optimizing search. Very few have taxonomies, and not nearly enough do analysis on the search logs." (Second annual Global Intranet & Portal Strategies Survey.) Time to get real about search. Time to grab the nettle. But it's not search we need to manage. What we need to manage is findability? And how to we do that? We identify the most popular searches on our intranets and measure how findable they currently are. It's very important to note here that I'm not talking about finding any old stuff. Focus on how your intranet can help staff find stuff that is critical to doing their jobs. Do sales representatives and marketers need to find images, and proposals and sales presentation templates? What is it that makes your organization run more efficiently and how findable are these things on your intranet? How much of sales time is being wasted looking for stuff, when it could be spent selling? Have your sales people ever lost a contract because they used the wrong proposal template. (And they chose this template because it was the first one they found in the search results page.) At the heart of the intranet lies a very challenging problem. The people who create the content don't really care if it is found or not. There is no competition to get found like there is on the Web. (Do you think that the first result in Google got there by accident?) Organizations say to people: Your job is to write this. Your job is to put this up on the intranet. Once the content is written and published on the intranet, then the job is over. Except that it's not. Because if the content can't be quickly found then it was a total waste of time to publish it in the first place. Stop measuring people on the amount of content they publish. Measure them on the findability of that content. Better still, once found measure them on the usefulness of the content. So, you published all these marketing images. Are sales reps actually using any of them in their sales presentations?

About the Author

Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994.