The High Cost of Not Finding Information - rebooted

In this post I'd like to draw your attention to an interesting IDC white paper "The High Cost of Not Finding Information" written by Susan Feldman and Gris Sherman. The article was written way back in 2001, when Windows XP and Wikipedia were first launched and Google was just releasing its earthquake onto an unsuspecting Internet. But in my opinion, it's more topical now than ever before.

The white paper addresses the fact that while it's one thing to capture, analyze and produce information, the capability to actually find this information is another thing entirely. In other words, as companies produce more and more information, it becomes increasingly more difficult for them to actually access that information. I recommend reading the full version and will just quote a few phrases which caught my eye :


  • "Timely access to critical information separates the winners from the losers in today’s information economy."  - I think no one will argue against this statement.

  • "There’s still a huge gap between what most information systems can do and what users expect." -  Just compare your ordinary personal-life experiences with Google and social networks and compare them with your business-life experience.

  • "Functional divisions within an enterprise often lead to silos of information that aren’t universally available." - Still true, despite our EDW initiatives, which represent just a fraction of the entire information world.

  • "Most people are not aware of all the useful information sources, nor do they have access to them all." - obviously, similarly to Google, your website would definitely exist without Google but no one would know about it; the same is true for corporate information  - except there's no corporate Google.

  • "...the ability to find and retrieve information is paramount..." - within this context - I fully agree. 

  • "While the costs of not finding information are enormous, they are hidden within the enterprise, and therefore they are rarely perceived as having an impact on the bottom line." - no comment  

The study contains many other interesting points, including outlines of business cases etc. What's interesting is that despite the technological progress we've seen since it was written, this particular problem has continued to grow and grow. Corporations still aren't giving their employees the capability to quickly "google" and locate information and data. The large volumes of information a company acquires during its life are still inaccessible or extremely difficult to navigate.


Bottom line

It makes sense to firstly learn how to make your existing world of information searcheable and accessible before opening the door to even Bigger Data adventures :)

It would be cool to know your opinion on these 3 questions:

  • How's it possible that we still can`t find a service similar to Google and Wikipedia working across a whole company?

  • Who`s responsibility is to make sure that information is searchable, understandable and accessible?

  • How would you measure the time spent searching for information?  


Reference: Feldman, Susan, and Sherman, Chris. “The High Cost of Not Finding Information.”, Copyright (c) 2001, IDC