Every year a great many surveys are published about various aspects of information management but most are quite small scale. Drawing generic conclusions from them can be a risky business. So when I started to read the latest report from David Schubmehl and his colleagues at IDC I was immediately impressed by the fact that the survey covered 2155 organisations in 6 countries. The report is entitled The Knowledge Quotient: Unlocking the Hidden Value of Information Using Search and Analytics. The aim of the project was to understand the current state of information access using a matrix of measurements of process capability, technology, the sharing and reuse of information and the extent to which the organisation sees information as an asset. From the survey IDC identified about 10% of the survey cohort to be in the 90th percentile, and defined these as KQ Leaders. The results of the survey are then segmented into KQ Leaders and Others.

Looking at the outcomes I was tempted to call the second group the KQ Losers, as their scores are substantially poorer to the point of wondering how they manage without information. To take just the metric of high satisfaction with intranet search, the Leaders were at 90% and the Others at just over 10%. I’m in the right business! Again 72% of the Leaders (against just 25% of the Others) cited unstructured information access and analysis as very important for revenue growth. One of the themes of the report is a growing requirement for unified information access across multiple repositories and applications.

At the end of the report IDC report on the time spend by knowledge working on gathering information. Currently this is 16% of the working week and almost half of this work is wasted because the relevant information cannot be found. Over the years IDC have published a number of reports on this topic (directed by Sue Feldman) and looking back at the 2003 report it seems we have not made any significant improvements in finding information. This matches similar results for the period from 2008 to 2014 from the Digital Workplace Trends report. The technology has certainly improved so in my view that only leaves organisational commitment to information management as the cause of the problem. Perhaps IDC can do some cross-tabbing to find out.

The research was sponsored by 9 technology vendors. Of these Coveo and Lexalytics clearly wanted to be very visible in the report and in my opinion the case studies disrupt the flow of the report. Less is sometimes more.  However I would also acknowledge that research on this scale is expensive and we should be grateful for the vendor support of the project. I downloaded my copy from Coveo. Overall there is a wealth of related information in the report and it will provide quantitative data for my presentations and reports for quite some time. I hope that in due course the IDC team will provide some vertical sector analyses of the survey data.

Martin White