Britain’s business culture changed by nation of information addicts and hoarders, Part I

Yes, it’s true – we are becoming a nation of information addicts – at least according to a survey Symantec recently carried out.  Symantec wanted to find out more about how the so-called information explosion is affecting the everyday lives of British office workers. What was abundantly clear is that we are all suffering from this 21st century ailment – Information Overload – sounds like a Tom Cruise film, or AC/DC album – and it is overtaking not only our working lives, but our personal ones too.

Accessing work information out of hours, compulsively checking emails, texts and social media and hoarding endless emails and multiple versions of the same file are all symptoms of information overload experienced by those we surveyed. See the stats here.

But whereas the technology enabling us to do this (fantastic mobile devices and faster connectivity) all purport to make us more productive in the workplace, is our mismanagement of information actually counter-productive?

IDC has recently estimated that in 2011 over 1.8 Zetabytes of information was created and replicated (IDC, “The 2011 Digital Universe Study: Extracting Value from Chaos”) and if we go by Moore’s Law this will continue to grow almost immeasurably over the coming years. What does this mean for our state of mind and the systems we work with – will we reach a moment when we are essentially ‘drowning’ in information?

Not if the technologies that store and manage information also continue to improve. We are working very hard to make managing information easier, faster and more efficient for businesses of all sizes. This means making sure that what is actually useful and valuable is stored, archived and backed up correctly, while the rest is relegated to permanent deletion.

But technology can only go so far, some of the onus is still on businesses and individuals to moderate their work behaviour to take into account this new work paradigm.

Part II – What can we do about it?

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