Too much information? How endless knowledge searches hold your organization back

Data volumes have skyrocketed in recent years, and Statista estimates that 59 sextillion bytes were generated in 2020 — more than twice the amount generated in 2017. 

What are we doing with the vast quantities of knowledge available to us? In most cases, as businesses, absolutely nothing. Only .5 percent of knowledge collected by organizations is used or analyzed, and less than half (.25 percent) plays any part in business decision-making.

The problem with too much information and too many tools

The data overload we now face appears to make life harder for our employees. In 2016, 87 percent of Cognizant’s Work Ahead survey respondents said digital technology made them more productive. However, in 2020 that figure dropped to just 46 percent. This drop didn’t surprise us.  

As the number of digital technologies deployed increases without proper organizational integration, it gets more difficult for employees to know which tool, software, and service to use for their knowledge search. Without a clear idea of where the information lies, organizations become slow to decision-making, less agile, and productivity decreases as workers waste hours sifting through documented knowledge and emails. Any of which are outdated or irrelevant. 

In theory, it would be easier for employees to seek answers from their colleagues. But how are they supposed to do that? Collaboration tools are designed to connect team members to those they already know and work with, leaving all their problem-solver colleagues they’re not aware of untapped. So workers are once again forced into laborious knowledge searches. And the more internal mobility and remote working there is in your organization, the harder it gets to find people with specialist knowledge, that is, if they can be found at all. 

The result of this challenge knowledge workers have is that they’re now spending on average 36 percent of their time consolidating and searching for information. That’s more than a third of every workday wasted on information searches. Imagine how much better off your organization and employees would be if you could find a way to decrease a fraction of those hours wasted. You don’t have to imagine, Richard Joyce, a Senior Analyst at Forrester, has already determined that just a 10 percent increase in knowledge accessibility results in more than $65 million additional net income for an average Fortune 1000 company.

Here’s another way to look at it. Endless knowledge searching is a problem for your organization. It’s a problem costing you time, money and a competitive advantage. It’s a problem that only gets bigger as time passes. The good news, it’s solvable. 

What your tool needs

Traditional knowledge management tools are slow and inefficient. Collaboration tools, as mentioned earlier, struggle to connect people across different teams and silos. What is needed is a “knowledge collaboration” solution that empowers employees to find colleagues with the right knowledge and experience to solve their problems fast — no matter where they are in the organization. For your knowledge collaboration tool to be truly effective, it should adhere to some basic principles:

Accessibility — to succeed now and in the future, organizations must have a knowledge collaboration platform that provides workers with reliable access to answers and expertise. The platform needs to be simple, centralized and virtual, offering a friendly user experience.

Democratization — everyone in your organization should have access to the knowledge collaboration platform. Only then will you be able to unlock the full human potential of your business by connecting employees based on their knowledge no matter what their status, location or role. 

Flexibility — your customers, employees and business partners operate in hybrid or remote environments then so should your knowledge collaboration platform. A fully flexible model allows company knowledge to be accessed, delivered and enabled anywhere.

A solution to information overload

AI tools can be designed to help organizations overcome the endless search for information connecting employees with up-to-date answers and colleagues with experience — no matter their team, title, or location. Give your employees access the full knowledge potential of your organization, gaining time, productivity, employee satisfaction and wellbeing.

Photo Credit: nmedia / Shutterstock

Marc Vontobel is the co-founder and CEO at Starmind. He is a computer scientist turned serial entrepreneur with a real passion for building high tech companies – which he’s done on multiple occasions from bootstrapping through to double digit million venture capital funding rounds. He is an active member of both the Forbes Technology Council and Global Panel of the MIT Technology Review. Marc is dedicated to driving forward Starmind’s vision of making collective human intelligence accessible to everyone with the power of AI. Continually fascinated by how technology can bring people together, Marc truly believes that the scale and power of human intelligence is something that’s vastly underestimated within organizations today.

Author: Martha Meyer