Search Versus Find, There is a Difference

While at the VRM+CRM conference a few weeks ago someone (my apologies I cannot remember who) did a nice job talking for a just a few minutes about the difference between ‘Searching’ and ‘Finding’. I have never really given it much thought, but there is a rather large distinction here. Wait, it must be Wednesday, sorry, I did it again! It really feels like a Tuesday, with the holiday and all. I have promised not to make Outsiders a ‘weekly lesson in Etymology‘. But this one is important from many perspectives, and it is not really about the distinction in the words.

I Really Do Not Want to Search

I use FireFox (and Chrome, Safari,….) and the little box at the top right, yes, the one with the Google logo has an icon of a magnifying glass, and when you place your mouse over it, the word “search” pops up. Great, we are all set, I can now search. I am not sure about you, but when I type something into that little box, I really want to find something. The only time I really want to search is when I open up the refrigerator at 10pm and I really have no idea what I am looking for, but standing there with the door open is a requirement of all males, whatever it is I am ‘searching’ for will certainly find me!

Bing seems to get it, just a little anyway. “Bing is a search engine that finds and organizes the answers you need so you can make faster, more informed decisions.”. Google on the other hand is just search: “Google – Enables users to search the Web, Usenet, and images. Features include PageRank, caching and translation of results, and an option to find similar pages.” What about Wikipedia? “Wikipedia is a free, web-based, collaborative, multilingual encyclopedia project supported by the non-profit Wikimedia Foundation.” oh, and they have a search box. So, who gets it? Ah, found one, it is movie about a fish. If the title were done by Internet techie folks, it would have been ‘Searching for Nemo’, lucky for us, it was not, thus the title stands “Finding Nemo”. (By the way, I am not even going to touch Twitter here, just sayin’)

What is the Relevance?

When you, or your users get ready for work in the morning, or planning your day, you want information to find you. The last thing you want to do is search for things. There is an abundance of information, too much information actually, you need it to find you – when you need it. I am not sure about you, but I open up my calendar and there it is, my schedule for the day (most of it anyway), I did not search for it. When I have an appointment, deadline, phone call, I get an alert, one of my choosing. When you open up your CRM application, whether that is email, SugarCRM, or some other application, how does it help you organize your day? Do you need to search for people to call? Do you need to search for trouble tickets, service requests or support cases? Here is my preference, in order, vendors listen up please:

  1. Help the information get to me, the way I want to see it
  2. Help me find the information efficiently, quickly and easily
  3. If 1 and 2 fail, ok, give me a way to search for what I need, but please focus on finding it!

I am done searching, I want to find what I need, when I need – even better if it finds me!

3 thoughts on “Search Versus Find, There is a Difference

  1. For the information i need (latest news from the SCM/SCRM world), Twitter is the best tool and i don’t even use search. I just follow the right people, lists and hash tags and the information comes to me.

    But you’re right: sometimes i need something that does not come to me or maybe i overlooked it because of the high number of feeds. That’s when i use search.

  2. As an analyst – back when unstructured data was something to be feared, we distinguished between enterprise “search” when you are looking for a file, document or some information that you know exists, you just can’t ind it – and “Discovery” – which is where tools are applied to data for root cause and trend analysis – essentially the type of stuff monitoring does for social media. A subtle but important difference.

  3. I respect your and Mr.X’s opinion (Cause you cant remember his name), but i think 7 times out of last 10 times I used the search box was to actually search for relevant data, knowing I wont find an exact file or piece of information telling me what i need to know, or what is enough for me or up to my caliber regarding technical know how, some documents are very basic others not properly formatted I am sure you know what i mean, i have to search through all that clutter and go through that information in search of an answer or knowledge regarding my query,what i am looking for mostly is not out there in a single piece of document or for that matter in the form i would like to see it.
    I want to be fair so i will mention the rest of the cases where i am finding things….., Like i need to find the URL to this website i know exists but i can recall the name or domain, “was it .com or .org or maybe .gov!!” to be exact last time i searched was for a mobile phone by Samsung named champ, i knew the name of vendors company so i was “finding” URL to its website.
    I personally think most of the time i am “searching” for things using that search box, so for now lets call it a search box….!

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