The Search for Expert Knowledge Continues
If you had high hopes that your enterprise search tools would find everything you needed to know, think again.

Among companies that want to be able to search staff expertise, only about one-third of them actually can. Such data points out that legacy ‘enterprise search 1.0’ solutions are "woefully inadequate at meeting the sophisticated data needs of enterprises, which is seriously impacting productivity and profitability."

Independent research carried out by Vanson Bourne, assessed the current information capabilities and needs of 170 organizations in the United Kingdom with more than 1,000 employees operating in the financial services, manufacturing, retail, healthcare and public sectors. 

Capturing the Human Mind

Once businesses were satisfied with only being able to search emails and documents. Now, however, they require more information that lives not just within computer systems, but inside the minds of the employees who have the most relevant knowledge and experience on a particular topic.  

As a result, employees’ expertise or “tacit knowledge” as it is widely termed has remained a largely untapped resource as the information is often not documented or searchable. 

Even where ‘enterprise search 1.0’ systems are able to document expertise by using individual user profiles, it falls out of date as individual users are solely responsible to manually update their profiles – all of which increases the length of time employees spend with the overall search process. 

Connecting People & Experiences

To make an effective expertise location system, automatic functionality should connect people to colleagues with the most relevant experience of the matter at hand to unlock the tacit knowledge that they possess. 

Furthermore, each user’s expertise profile should automatically update to reflect new user work product and experiences, which ‘enterprise search 1.0’ systems have shown not as capable of delivering.

Learning Opportunities

Across all sectors, research showed that 50 percent or more of those surveyed want to be able to locate expertise to help employees with their daily jobs with the highest demand being in the professional services sector (83 percent), followed closely by those in the public sector (73 percent ). 

Yet, only 55 percent of professional services employees and a mere 27 percent of public sector employees are able to locate expertise using their current enterprise search systems

In the healthcare sector, demand was still high at 68 percent, with the figure standing at 57 percent in financial services.  In comparison, just 39 percent of respondents in the healthcare sector were able to search this valuable resource and for financial services the figure was even lower at 29 percent.  

Taking Advantage of the Human Experience

So this just supports what you and your company already know: what you want and what you are able to do are not always the same thing. In addition, what your employees know and what your systems know are not the same thing.

Though companies should be taking advantage of their "human experience", they don't always. Employees’ knowledge-sets are typically only utilized if those searching happen to be able to track down an individual through colleague relationships. 

The inability to share and keep such knowledge constantly updated can have a significant business impact. Until companies wise up and take inventory of all their information, computer and human-based, they can expect to waste lots of money and time.