Wasted search-time affects productivity, says study

Better use of search technology will save time, analyst firm claims

Employees performing ineffective searches and wasting time looking for information can cost companies up to 10% in salary expenses, research suggests.

Butler Group, a London-based IT research and analysis firm, has released a report titled Enterprise Search and Retrieval which concludes that “ineffective search and discovery strategies are hampering business competitiveness, impairing service delivery and putting companies at risk”.

Specifically, the firm contends that as much as 10% of a company’s salary costs are “frittered away” as employees scramble to find adequate and accurate information to perform their overall jobs and complete assigned tasks.

“Over 50% of staff costs are now allocated to employees performing so-called information work,” says Richard Edwards, senior research analyst and co-author of the report. “Employees are suffering from both information overload and information underload. As a result, the typical information worker now spends up to one quarter of his or her day searching for the right information to complete a given task.”

The lost productivity and wasted salary cost findings support Butler Group’s stance that search and retrieval tools should be part of enterprise companies’ IT arsenal, as the technologies “enable organisations to exploit the information assets they already have. They also enable companies to identify opportunities, reduce risk and garner insight”.

The firm argues that enterprise search and retrieval technologies, such as those from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, can not only optimise information assets within companies, but can also increase an organisation’s ability to manage compliance and regulatory demands. The report compares and contrasts search tools from eight vendors, noting that “there is confusion about the roles of different search technologies”.

Sue Clarke, report co-author and senior research analyst, says “Organisations must realise that enterprise search requires a range of indexing techniques and functions to deliver the most appropriate results, and no single technology can deliver all the analysis required”.

Like most industry watchers, Butler Group finds Google interesting. Edwards says it “has redefined the technology landscape”. But with every vendor from IBM to Microsoft to Oracle entering the search fray, Google will face stiff competition in the long run, he says.

“Both IBM and Microsoft have each announced all-encompassing search strategies, and their grip on the enterprise infrastructure will make these companies very hard to beat”.

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