How efficient is the enterprise at using information? An independent report being released today from MindMetre Research, sponsored by semantic content intelligence vendor Smartlogic, offers up an Industry Information Index that benchmarked organizations in 20 industry sectors – and finds that information efficiency is fundamentally unsatisfactory.

The benchmarks considered as markers of information efficiency enterprise search effectiveness; information categorization effectiveness; and categorization and search progress and investment.  They also explored the fragmentation of information systems at responding companies. Fewer than half the 2,000 firms surveyed worldwide rated their sector as capable across the four categories, indicating issues around tasks such as systematizing documents to make them findable across the enterprise, or enabling internal users and clients to receive precisely filtered information feeds.

Why does that matter? According to the report, “for any organization using its information assets to achieve commercial success or to meet its mandate, a sub-par score in the index represents a serious concern and its problems with unstructured information need to be addressed.” It’s those industries, it notes, that have the most dependency on unstructured information rather than structured content such as transactional, forms, or account data, that dominate the bottom half of the index: Information and Research, Chemical and Pharmaceutical, High-tech and IT, Aerospace, Banking and Media and Publishing.

Even those sectors that hover at the top of the Index, such as Food and Drink, shouldn’t consider themselves in the clear. While their attention is focused on the retention and analysis of structured information as being more crucial to their success, the report says, they “may in fact find that a more efficient use of unstructured information could be of great value to them,” too.

Here are snippets of the report’s insights into what’s at stake for some of the verticals where unstructured information matters more:

● Information and Research companies, whose lifeblood is just that, are 14th on the list, which MindMetre calls “lamentable.” Finding ways to improve their information governance and enable information recovery is vital to a sector where all the work that goes into producing complex studies and large-scale documents, done by individuals across the globe, doesn’t always live up to its future potential in terms of repurposing the data or coming up with new ways of monetizing it (perhaps by other groups in the company) because new content and existing archives aren’t as well-organized for findability as they could be. That includes not just via straight searches but the ability to “recognize related documents in context – when the terminology is slightly different but the subject the same, for instance.”

● While the life sciences sector has been among the early adopters of semantic web technologies to help with its serious data management and discovery issues, such as around drug discovery, that’s comparatively speaking. Knowledge management projects that leverage semantics, such as Open PHACTS (Open Pharmacological Concepts Triple Store), have been created to help deal with data sharing and sustainability. As the MindMetre report shows, however, there’s plenty more to do. Getting greater efficiency from sharing data across numerous studies taking place at different organization or leveraging information from the huge amount of market research and testing in the area is a must given the “increased pressure from shortened development cycles, escalating research costs, and the constraints of being in the world’s most highly regulated industry.” Locating as soon as possible all strands of research, testing and reporting relevant to the development of a product, and tapping into information on the manufacture of previous products to avoid reinventing the wheel, matters if pharma firms are to remain successful, the report says.

● The media and publishing sector gets the dubious honor of the bottom-of-the-barrel 30 percent total capability score. Razorfish’s Rachel Lovinger and Hearst Interactive Media’s Michael Dunn have been among the voices arguing for the publishing industry to do a better job of structuring their wealth of content, both for external and internal discoverability, and efforts like rNews have geared up to help the news part of the industry move ahead for re-purposing and re-contextualization. But generally speaking it’s been slow going to bring more publishers to the semantic content intelligence party.  Veteran publishers in a field that’s been competitive since the days of yellow journalism, and now facing a growing number of Internet rivals, should be “harnessing their vast reservoirs of information – some going back decades – and the potential of current information-gathering infrastructure…. Companies in this sector have huge information archives they are looking to make accessible and monetize, huge turnover of new content to stream to clients and monetize, and potential to create deeper niche information products for specialist markets. All of this means they need to find ways to organize and tap into their valuable information assets to more precisely manage outgoing content.”

The report goes more deeply into other sectors. Its conclusion recommends that “an organization can endow its information management platform with Content Intelligence capability by utilizing semantic software and structures such as an ontology to capture the relationships between documents and drive the consistent application of rich metadata. This enables systems to auto-categorize documents, systematizing information governance and ensuring the correct tagging of enterprise content for quick and precise search – a central problem facing a startling proportion of firms, according to the Industry Information Index.”