Not So Simple Search – Metrics – CIO: “According to a survey of 300 companies by Boston-based Delphi Group, nearly 30 percent of business users spend more than eight hours per week searching for electronic information.”

Where is the qualitative research (not surveys!) about search? Who is watching businesspeople closely for days, logging exactly what they do (as opposed to what they say they do in a survey) and finding out why?

For what is one of the hottest IT topics around these days, there is surprisingly little valuable research being done on search. (I don’t think I consider the above valuable research. Sorry guys, a survey just doesn’t cut it.)

What’s worse, the typical research findings (“business users spend x hours a day searching”) are almost always followed by dodgy, Jakob-ish ROI conclusions (“At x US$/hour, this costs companies worldwide y billion US$ a year!”). Useful for convincing some of the more stupid CIO’s, maybe. Not for much else. I guess I’m just in a pissed off mood today.

0 thoughts on “

  1. I don’t think you could be more right, Peter.

    We already knew that lots of people are spending lots of valuable time searching. Duh.

    But without knowing (1) the characteristics of those searches and (2) what the searchers’ next activities were, it’s hard to extract additional meaningful information from the Delphi Group’s statistics.

    The same degree of skepticism should be applied to those charts in business presentations. The implication of those intersecting and/or concentric figures with words inside them — and arrows connecting them — is that if you can make a graphic of your ideas, the ideas and relationships are somehow true. Utter nonsense.

    Now where did I put that org-chart software ….?


  2. The thing that annoys me more is that ‘searching for electronic information’ really doesn’t mean anything. The implication is always that this is wasted effort. 30% of business users spending 8 hours a week – big deal. Did they find the information, is this a significant difference from last year, is it different to pre-Internet days, what did the other 70% do. Did it mean only using a search engine, or navigation as well. What is the point at which you stop measuring activity as ‘searching’ and measure it as ‘finding’.

    Yeah, yeah…

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