Time spent searching cuts into company productivity

Butler Group reports up to 10% of staff costs are lost, because employees can't find the right information to do their jobs.

Employees performing ineffective searches and wasting time looking for information can cost companies up to 10% in salary expenses, research shows.

Butler Group, a London-based IT research and analysis organization, this week released a report titled "Enterprise Search and Retrieval," which concludes that "ineffective search and discovery strategies are hampering business competitiveness, impairing service delivery and putting companies at risk." Specifically, the research firm contends that as much as 10% of a company's salary costs is "frittered away" as employees scramble to find adequate and accurate information to perform their overall jobs and complete assigned tasks.

"Over 50% of staff costs are now allocated to employees performing so-called information work," said Richard Edwards, senior research analyst and co-author the 240-page report, in a press release. "Employees are suffering from both information overload and information underload. As a result, the typical information worker now spends up to one-quarter of his or her day searching for the right information to complete a given task."

The lost productivity and wasted salary cost findings support Butler Group's stance that search and retrieval tools should be part of enterprise companies' IT arsenal, as the technologies "enable organizations to exploit the information assets they already have. They also enable companies to identify opportunities, reduce risk and garner insight," according to the press release.

The research firm argues that enterprise search and retrieval technologies, such as those from Google, Microsoft and Yahoo, can not only optimize information assets within enterprise companies, but also can increase an organization's ability to manage compliance and regulatory demands, for instance. The full report compares and contrasts search tools from eight vendors, clarifying that "there is confusion about the roles of different search technologies."

"Organizations must realize that enterprise search requires a range of indexing techniques and functions to deliver the most appropriate results, and no single technology can delivery all the analysis required," stated Sue Clarke, a report co-author and Butler Group senior research analyst, in the press release.

Like most industry watchers, Butler Group finds Google's enterprise search strategy interesting. In fact, Edwards goes so far as to say it "has redefined the technology landscape." But with every vendor from IBM to Microsoft to Oracle entering the search fray, Google will face stiff competition in the long run.

"Both IBM and Microsoft have each announced all-encompassing search strategies, and their grip on the enterprise infrastructure will make these companies very hard to beat," the research firm concludes.

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