“Organize your information!” You have probably heard this piece of common sense advice so often that it doesn’t really register anymore. Unfortunately, like brushing your teeth, exercising and eating right, there are a surprising number of people who do not follow through on organizing their information. There is a cost to disregarding one’s informational health, and, if left unchecked, could turn into a serious problem. The theory of infogration surfaces these information problems and then will offer some solutions, but before we begin, we need to understand why organizing your information is so important.
Let’s take a look at the true cost of disorganization: wasted time, wasted money and wasted opportunity. This is true for an individual, a team, or an organization. The cost is like a leaky with faucet slow drip; it seems insignificant until you calculate just how much cumulative waste has occurred. Think of examples that you encounter every day: You are working on a project and you need to include some information from a previous report. What was the name of the file? Where did you put the file? Where is the file stored now? If you are organized, it may take you only a minute or two to find the file, and you go right back to working on your project. If you aren’t, you could spend 15 potentially unproductive minutes fruitlessly searching for it, whereupon you give up and take a coffee break. Be honest with yourself; how many times does this happen to you during a normal work week?
Now, take that lack of productivity and multiply that by everyone working in your office, then by everyone working in your organization. Have you started getting queasy yet?
In 2001, 2005, and 2012, the market research firm IDC released three whitepapers (“The High Cost of Not Finding Information,” “The Hidden Cost of Information Work,” “Bridging the Information Worker Productivity Gap: New Challenges and Opportunities for IT”) summarizing their studies that tried to quantify how much time was being lost looking for information and how much that actually costs. The three studies each come to the same conclusion; namely, that information workers spend around a quarter of their time trying to find the information they need. This unproductive time can be converted into significant financial losses for an organization.
This is the elephant in the room that strikes at the core of how people work in the 21st century. Computers have given us the ability to look up information anytime, to work from anywhere, and collaborate with people located far away. Yet, at the same time, the sheer amount of information available is so vast and the possibilities of what to do with it are so infinite, it is hard to know where to start, and where to find what you are looking for.
Larger organizations can try and implement changes to their current information management processes, but the bigger they are, the harder the change will be to implement, let alone be used in the long term.
But what if you are a small business that is just starting out? New small businesses are still flexible enough to put smart information management strategies in from the beginning. A small business that implements a scalable information management plan that was designed for them could have a significant competitive advantage moving forward. This is infogration.