May 18, 2009, 11:08 AM — In this age of sub-one-second Google search queries, modern networking and T1 Internet connections, it seems ludicrous that any type of information-based search would take even 38 seconds to complete.
A new survey, however, finds that employees at big companies (with more than 10,000 employees) spend, on average, 38 minutes searching for one document -- whether that's on their own computers or their organization's networks, databases or intranet.
In addition, the survey of 200 respondents from companies in a wide range of industries found that employees are having trouble finding the most efficient and appropriate technology tools to locate documents or internal expertise. To find in-house experts, for instance, 71 percent of the respondents said they "ask around"; 46 percent said they use the company directory; 34 percent use the company website or intranet; and 30 percent said they send a companywide e-mail (and we all know how annoying those can be).
Just 9 percent of the companies responding to the survey have an automated system in place for locating experts. The survey was completed by Osterman Research and commissioned by Recommind, a maker of information risk-management software, so take the results with a grain of salt.
But still, the results have to be unsettling to higher-ups who have any concern regarding employee productivity in these times of "doing more with less," plus the hyper-litigious and regulatory environment in which we now live. According to the survey, 86 percent of employees expressed concern about how prepared their organizations are to deal with information risk.
"In spite of a heightened risk of litigation and regulatory investigation," notes the survey write-up, "most enterprises aren't more stringently enforcing, or even updating, data-retention policies." (For more on data management, see these articles on how companies are struggling to get to one version of the truth with BI and master data management (MDM) efforts, why less than half of data management plans are effective, and why MDM initiatives are still buzzworthy but a back-breaker for many organizations.)
Overall, the findings, states the survey report, "illustrate a dangerous, recession-induced trend of overreliance on outdated technology and an inability to provide workers with the most current tools available."
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