Findwise Findability Survey 2016 – strategy wins out!

by | Nov 8, 2016 | Digital workplace, General, Reviews, Search

The outcomes of the Findwise Findability Survey 2016 were presented by its author, Mattias Ellison, at the Findwise Findability Day in Stockholm last month. In the interests of transparency I have been involved to some extent with the design of the survey and the presentation of the results. The 2016 report can be downloaded from the Findwise site. With all annual surveys the challenge is to keep a balance between questions that relate to the trends in search implementation dating back to 2012 and yet pay attention to topics that deserve special attention at the present time. I think Findwise has just the right balance in the 2016 report.

I’m not going to work through every chart and table in detail as I want to encourage you to download the report and read it for yourself. For me the main interest this year has been the set of questions on how a search strategy has an impact on search performance. There is certainly a welcome trend towards organisations having a search strategy, up from only 20% in 2012 to over 50% this year. The report presents a series of charts which show that having a search strategy has a significant benefit on search performance, mainly because the strategy provides a business case for investment in team resources, metadata and analytics. The chart on the roles participating on a search governance programme shows a higher level of business involvement when there is a strategy in place. Indeed there is no aspect of search management that does not appear to benefit from having a search strategy. Which then makes me ask why still half the organisations in the survey do not have a strategy.

Based on my consulting work I think that the answer to a lack of a strategy is that although at an operational level search managers understand the value of a strategy they cannot find a sponsor or owner for the strategy. This is especially the case where an organisation has multiple search applications acquired and supported from different budgets, and there is no overall ownership of search. Findwise does provide some guidance on strategy development and you can find a list of headings for a search strategy on the website of my Enterprise Search book, the entire focus of which is the need to take a strategic perspective on enterprise search.

This survey is a lonely beam of light on the fairly mysterious world of search management. AIIM did publish a survey on enterprise search in 2014 but now search is not listed as a technology that the organisation sees as important. No comment! Undertaking research on the scale of the Findability Survey is a significant commitment by Findwise, especially in achieving a high level of participation, and the search community should not only be grateful for this commitment but reward it through participating in the 2017 survey. If you want to make a business case for more investment by your organisation in search then the 2016 Survey makes a definitive case for doing so through the development of a search strategy.

Martin White