Posted on January 24, 2012 by Gilles ANDRE
Twenty-one minutes a day. That’s how long employees spend each day searching for information they know exists but is hard to find. These 21 minutes cost their company the equivalent of €1,500 per year per employee. That’s an average of two whole working weeks. This particular Mindjet study is, of course, somewhat anecdotal and some research firms such as IDC put the figure as high as €10,000 per year. These findings signal a new challenge facing businesses: employees know that the information is there, but they cannot find it. This stalemate can become extremely costly and, in some cases, can even kill off a business. Are companies really aware of this problem?
In today’s world we are surrounded by information, yet employees have never been so poorly informed. The reasons for this are no mystery: our society is becoming a digital, fast-paced world. Information lies at the very heart of our society. It is its ever-expanding DNA. Although this is a major leap forward, it also has some alarming side-effects. The terabyte has become common parlance in the business world, including among SMEs, and experts now talk about petabytes without so much as flinching. In simple terms, we are heading towards the era of the zettabyte (a value on a scale one thousand million times greater than a gigabyte). The evidence is there to see. A recent IDC survey found that almost 2 ZB of data was created in 2011. That’s enough to fill 57.5 billion iPads.
So far, companies have responded to this rising tide of data by spending money. They have invested large, even enormous sums in solutions to store, secure and access their information – one of the key assets of their business. They have also invested heavily in a range of different applications to meet their operational needs. Yet these same applications have created vast information silos spanning their entire organisation. Interdepartmental communication is stifled and information travels like vehicles on the M25 during rush hour.
Despite their heavy investment, companies face the same problem: they don’t know how to manage their precious assets, and those that attempt it do it badly. The challenge facing company directors is enormous. Why invest millions in a business when the information that it creates ends up vanishing into thin air? If employees cannot find information that is already in the system, then the system itself is utterly useless!
When information becomes difficult to find, it is even more difficult to use. It seems quite straightforward. Yet the most surprising thing of all is that very few companies are aware of just how much information is lost. I see it day in, day out. Most employees view data as an unavoidable by-product of their work. They fail to see it as a key driver to generate more business.
The time has now come for directors to take action. The CIO plays a key role here by providing employees with the tools they need to search for – and, crucially, to find – the information they need at all times. Some will say they have already done it. Everything is categorised and organised… and that’s it. And they often use very expensive tools. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t enough. These days, companies are operating with increasingly limited budgets and are always looking to streamline their investments.
Fortunately, there are solutions to this challenge and they all include a bespoke search engine. In reality, this is something that every company needs. Search engines are often seen as a commodity. However, when used properly, they can breathe new life into information distribution within a company, saving employees valuable time that would otherwise be wasted. Now more than ever, with the appearance of so-called “Big Data”, these information asset management technologies provide a strategic gateway to a company’s entire knowledge base, enabling each and every employee to become more flexible, responsive, efficient and productive. What better way to prepare yourself for a potential new crisis?