Tech deluge killing efficiency and productivity

by 12 Dec 2011

The mountain of inefficiently handled data received by corporate information systems is silently killing productivity and comes at a cost of $3bn every year, a new report has found.

The report, from Hitachi Data Systems and Deloitte Access Economics, found that 40% of surveyed organisations indicated they were suffering an ‘information overload’ - an increase from 34% two years ago.

Hitachi Data Systems general manager Neville Vincent said despite a strong work ethic, Australians are among the least productive workforces in the world.

“We are verging on an information disorder, beyond an information glut,” Vincent said.

The views of more than 400 Australian and New Zealand based organisations were canvassed, and most managers estimated they could reduce the amount of time employees spent searching and accessing data by between 30-50% if they had more efficient data management systems.

Vincent added that the problem is being exacerbated because, as in the gluttony/obesity analogy, people have recognised that they are putting on weight from an additional information mismanagement perspective, but are failing to do anything about it.

Dr Ben Searle, senior lecturer of psychology at Macquarie University, said information overload was a key driver of psychological illness in the workplace.

He added that the common solutions offered by managers, such as only checking emails at certain times during the day, were difficult to implement and often didn’t work.

“These solutions won’t work if your company doesn’t embrace it,” Dr Searle said. “If a culture exists where a reply to an email is expected straight away, it will not work.”

Searle said changes needed to be part of company policies and driven from the top down.

Additionally, Marc Peter, director of technology at LexisNexis which conducted an International Workplace Productivity study last year, said most workers admit data overload is causing their quality of work to suffer.

According to Peter there are two key drivers of information overload.

Firstly, a lot of the information is irrelevant for the person who is receiving it, and secondly, there is an inability of systems and processes in organisations to manage information efficiently.

Peter said that organisations can help by driving investment into better information management systems, decide how information is filtered, and train employees on information management.


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