Managing Findability: Critical Core Competency

Roles, Responsibilities, Programs, and Metrics You'll Need to Make It Easy for Audiences to Find the Right Information

March 24, 2005

People are frustrated with finding usable information inside the corporation, and with publishing usable information to the customers who need it. Companies won’t succeed in solving the findability problem unless they invest in the new stewardship roles and new findability programs we outline in this report.


Very few organizations have explicitly designated roles and responsibilities to ensure the findability of information. Yet, information pro-ducers and consumers both value findability. Findability is aided by technology, but it can’t be achieved without stewardship. You need to strategize, plan projects, coordinate teams, monitor progress, and calibrate results in order to make important information available to key audiences.

We see three new responsibilities that must be assigned. These are:

•    Audience advocates
•    Information collection stewards
•    Chief steward

The people in the audience advocate and in-formation collection steward roles get their guidance from the chief steward, which is not only a role, but also a position.

The audience advocates, including customer segment advocates, are responsible for ensur-ing that their audience can find the information they need to do their tasks. The information col-lection stewards are responsible for the findabil-ity and quality of their information collections. The chief steward for the enterprise and the chief information stewards for business units are the managers of the findability efforts.

Your findability efforts should be managed by the following three committees:

•    The Findability Steering Committee is re-sponsible for the findability and quality of in-formation across collections and audiences.
•    The Metadata Working Group coordinates metadata evolution and identifies corporate authoritative sources and standards.
•    The Taxonomy Working Group coordinates taxonomy evolution and establishes rules defining relationships across taxonomies.

We believe that the key high-level metric you’ll want to monitor and improve for findability is the percentage of searches that succeed in deliver-ing high-quality information in the desired timeframe.

The Problem That Won’t Go Away

Connecting people with accurate answers to their questions is a problem that keeps coming back. We solved it with relational databases in the 1980s, with text search in the 1990s, and again with Web search at the turn of the millennium.

Why does it keep coming back?

The most important reason is this: New sources of information are increasingly valuable, but most companies lack the practices and tools to manage these new types of information. There are new formats, such as voice, video, images, and geospatial information. There are also billions of new publishers: Everyone with email or instant messaging is effectively a publisher. While relational database content is controlled by applications and schemas, there are typically no such controls for the new flood of information.

You need to manage, participate in, pay attention to, and spend money on making it possible to find accurate information. You have to identify and assign responsibilities and measurements.

There is a dawning recognition that these new sources and formats are critical inputs for market insight, collaboration, relationship management, and regulatory compliance, but no such dawning understanding of how to deal effectively with all this information.

Why Bother?

With no predictable controls over this flood of information, people can’t find reliable in-formation, and they may not be able to produce reliable information. Here are some complaints we’ve heard from our clients...


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