Search Takes On New Work-From-Home Responsibilities

Finding prices, locations, and data on Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo and other search engines isn’t the same as searching for information on a company intranet. Remote work has put a major strain on technologies that connect employees to information, knowledge, and one another during the pandemic, and has had more of an impact on companies' top- and bottom line.

Think about it. Some 58% of employees participating in research from intelligent search company Sinequa and research firm American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) said finding information had more of an impact on key business metrics in the last year than in years past.

Remote work requires the correct tools. Some 81% of knowledge management professionals said their employees relied more on knowledge and information management tools and solutions in 2020 than in previous years. And more than a quarter of respondents said the inability to find information became a problem, affecting their company’s bottom line.



The company this year surveyed more than 200 high-level knowledge management (KM) and IT leaders in companies with 10,000 or more employees across North America and Europe to better understand their concept of search inside their organizations. The survey tries to access the current business priorities for information management, the solutions in place and under development, and how organizations define success for search and find information. 

When employees are frustrated with search and the inability to find information, it trickles down to customers through sales and service representatives who struggle to find information when responding to customer inquiries.

These challenges run deep. The biggest issue is getting information out of personal hard drives and other siloed locations so that it is broadly accessible. Some 50% of respondents also report there is confusion around where information is stored.

  • 45% say there are too many disconnected systems.
  • 41% see a lack of available systems to look for people or expertise.
  • 41% say available information is insufficient or incomplete.
  • 38% cite inconsistent information across functions.
  • 28% say available information is out of date.

Every minute that someone wastes digging for information takes time away from doing real work. Other heavily impacted KPIs include employee satisfaction and time-to-competency.

Search does not “spark joy” for most employees, according to the report -- especially for those who are new to the company. As a result, productivity falls.

When employees don’t find what they need, they often continue on without leveraging critical information. They might find the wrong version of the research or data, and work from outdated or un-validated information.

COVID-19 drew attention to problems with the flow of enterprise information, and in many cases exacerbated them. People need access to the correct information now more than before in order to address issues.

Data shows a significant gap between what IT and KM leaders recognize as important and the solutions they have put in place. Investments are growing, but the need to improve search has been recognized, although not always acted on.

For example, a vast majority of survey respondents acknowledge that search is a vital tool to connect employees to information, with 40% saying it’s critical, and another 37% say it is highly important.

Regardless of which tools that companies have in place, more than three-quarters of survey respondents expect their organizations’ investments in search to increase in the next 12 to 18 months. Some 41% expect those investments to increase significantly, support, deployment presence, security, and integration compatibility.

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