The Importance of Searchability in an Age of Information Overload

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By: Steve Vonder Haar

Libraries are of little use when all the books are scattered on the floor.

After all, even having a collection equivalent to the Library of Congress doesn’t mean a whole lot if you can’t find the right piece of information when you need it. Without a structure for sorting and cataloging all titles, books become little more than intellectual clutter.

So imagine the plight of companies today that are dealing with new age libraries of their own. Increasingly, organizations are developing large archives of on-demand video content.

After all, almost every company that uses streaming video is in the process of building an on-demand library of content. Of the organizations that reported use of streaming in a fourth quarter, 2014 survey of 1,201 executives conducted by Wainhouse Research, 97% say that they have archived some online video for business use. And nearly one-fifth (19%) of organizations that use streaming video today report that they have more than 100 hours of content stored in their archives.

The challenge for business executives is that no equivalent of the Dewey Decimal System used in libraries has emerged for the digital video realm. While some search technologies attempt to mimic Google-like “searchability” for video, it is difficult to replicate the pinpoint accuracy in exploring video content that Google delivers in online text searches.

Little wonder, then, that the hunt for effective search technology remains a top priority for executives at companies that are building large libraries of on-demand content. Among organizations with cumulative archives containing 100 or more hours of content, 74% describe the ability to “search content to find relevant videos” as either “very important” or essential in influencing their streaming technology purchase decision. Among executives at companies not deploying video archives, only 22% place such a priority on the search issue. Essentially, search becomes a hot-button topic once executives have to start sorting through videos scattered on the digital floor.

The good news is that the streaming industry overall is making strides in addressing the issue of video search. A variety of platforms today, for instance, employ speech-to-text conversion approaches that create searchable content logs. Others add-in optical character recognition technologies to pull relevant keywords from slides used in webcast presentations. Overall, the automated conversion process sometimes falls short in accuracy, but performance continues to improve as solutions advance further.

So while search solutions are getting better, they still fall short of perfection. As a result, the evaluation of the content search options that are available plays a large role in the streaming technology purchase decision. Executives want to find relevant on-demand video content and want to use the most effective solutions that make it possible.

Even if your organization uses streaming primarily for live events, don’t think that you’re immune from executive concerns regarding search. More than four of five organizations that have archives today report that more than half of their on-demand content was captured from live events stored for later replay.

No matter how you use streaming, the threat of content clutter looms. Sooner or later, you’re going to start organizing all of this video. You may as well beat the rush, identify viable video search strategies for your organization and begin sweeping up that messy floor now.

Steve Vonder Haar is a senior analyst with Wainhouse Research and can be reached at


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