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Sometimes you just have to shake your head. A couple of the many problems of search.

Analysts, studies, surveys, consultants point to the problems of search – meaning no one can ever find what they need. Same old problem that has existed probably when search began. Management seems to be well aware of the challenges of search, understand what unstructured content is yet, most do nothing about it. There are not only pretty good search engines, there are tools, such as ours, that assist in eliminating most of the challenges with search.

Step back a minute. According to an AIIM presentation, Are You Prepared for Digital Disruption? 2015 Predictions :
• 71% of organizations search is essential, yet only 18% have cross-repository search capabilities
• 28% of organizations have not tuned or optimized their search tool at all, including 8% who have not turned it on

This is where I begin to shake my head and question if there is any gray matter left in management or IT. I’m not sure why, when the technology is readily available, that they don’t take a stab at solving basic problems. Only 18% have cross-repository search capabilities? Not productive, I’m sure it’s not user friendly, and costly to have business users wasting their time searching multiple repositories one-by-one. The second statement is why on earth would an organization think that a search engine was just plug-and-play. Many come close, but tuning and optimization can greatly improve search outcome. And finally, I did have to chuckle about the 8% who have not turned search on. Maybe they just don’t want to know the answers.

Anyone have any reasons for the above? I am clueless.

(If you have a few minutes and use SharePoint or Office 365, could you kindly take our metadata survey? You could win a free conference pass to Microsoft Ignite. We would greatly appreciate it)

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End User Considerations in Search – Really We Need to Think About Them?

Many individuals don’t know how to search, and using one or two word keywords they will expect the results to be what they were looking for. Too many results causes navigational difficulties and the inability to visually evaluate the results to discern which entry is closest to what the user was searching for. Providing detailed search criteria is an individual, and not necessarily logical choice. Although most search engines support Boolean expressions they are beyond the knowledge of most end users for query refinement. In addition, 33% have difficulty navigating/orienting search results and 28% have difficulty maintaining orientation on a website.

Interestingly, users tend to abandon the search if there are many results or too many pages. According to IDC, 85% of relevant documents are never retrieved during search. From a business user perspective, all of these behaviors are repeated in the organization. The only caveat is that business users will tend to search longer if they know the information is there. 55% of searchers selected irrelevant results from a list of query responses multiple times, 36% did not go beyond the first 3 search results – not pages…results on page 1, and 91% did not go beyond the first page of search results.

Our final challenge with search is how we look for information is quite different between people and between people and machines.

The search engine must accommodate the different ways that users search and be able to discern their intent – human and machine retrieval are very different. Humans are limited by their ignorance. We don’t know what we’re looking for much of the time and so do not know how to find it. We often rely on technology to provide parameters to narrow our scope and put us on the right track. Unfortunately, technology is “face value” and so it does not know how to interpret our queries. Unless trained, machines do not understand that we can have a single word mean multiple things (order a meal, put things in order) or multiple terms mean the same thing (star: celestial entity, celebrity).

(If you have a few minutes and use SharePoint or Office 365, could you kindly take our metadata survey? You could win a free conference pass to Microsoft Ignite. We would greatly appreciate it)

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Should search vendors go back to the basics? Or is it too late?

The very basics of search accommodate the different types of searches executed by business users. I think search vendors should go back to the basics. Although business users may be guru’s on using Facebook, Google search (doubt it), Pinterest, and the list goes on. They are not necessarily proficient when searching in the business environment.

There are three types of queries and we will take a look at each of them.

A searcher will use a Navigational Query when they know exactly the specific information they are seeking. In this case, there is usually ‘one’ right answer and the search will either return the correct results or not. For example, if the search was looking for “ROI for eMail Campaign on Data Privacy Webinar’, there is one right response and the selection list of similar documents would be very narrow.

Informational Queries are utilized to educate the searcher. In this type of query, the searcher is looking for answers or more details on a subject. For example a search on “Marketing Campaigns” will yield many results because it is a very broad keyword. In this case, the searcher is looking for knowledge on a particular topic and the results will lead to information that is relevant to the query.

Transactional Queries are goal orientated searches where the searcher has the intent to perform an action. For instance the searcher is looking for the right descriptors to add to a document of record, this would be a transactional query.

All types of searches must be considered in a search strategy. For the most part, users will employ all types of searches depending on the activity. Therefore the search interface must accommodate all options by using several techniques often using a hierarchy, which is especially useful for informational queries. Other techniques can be provided by the search engine to interact with the searcher to refine the results, such as faceted navigation. Auto-classification, taxonomies, and analytics tools are typically used to feed the output to the search engine index to improve relevancy and accuracy.

(If you have a few minutes and use SharePoint or Office 365, could you kindly take our metadata survey? You could win a free conference pass to Microsoft Ignite. We would greatly appreciate it)

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Waiting for the ball to drop? This isn’t Times Square.

I just reviewed ’29 Warning Signs of Digital Disruption’ recently published by AIIM and produced by John Mancini. Since I am into research I found it fascinating. The slides were in reference to their AIIM surveys conducted to identify ‘global’ challenges many organizations face.

The statistics that I found particularly interesting include:

  • 71% of organizations recognize that search is vital or essential, yet only 18% have cross-repository search capabilities
  • 38% of organizations have not tuned or optimized their search tool at all, including 8% who have not even switched it on
  • 47% of organizations feel that universal search and compliant eDiscovery is becoming near impossible
  • 53% of organizations admit that their legal discovery procedures are “ad hoc, manual, disruptive, and expensive”
  • 42% of organizations struggle with unstructured inputs and connecting them to key business systems

The issue that I see, based on the presentation, is that organizations recognize the problem with information access, but are content to live with it. What I don’t know is why. As a software vendor with search solutions, the bullets can be relatively easily resolved. We can supply the technology but it is up to the organization to perform due diligence, planning, and the execution. Not easy, but if an organization could resolve just the above search challenges, would it be worth it? I think so.
I’m not sure what these organizations are waiting for? Do you?

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