Information Overload in 2022
The facts and figures of information overload and what it is doing to enterprise workers.
One of the ironies of the age we live in is that information, which was supposed to increase productivity, stands in its way. Information overload is now one of the biggest problems for organizations across sectors leading to decreased employee engagement and creating decision fatigue.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. The initial assumption was that the flow of information would bring clarity and facilitate a free exchange of ideas. It was supposed to empower employees and aid in faster decisions. But interestingly, there was no prescribed limit to how much information an organization, unit, or employee would need to be productive.
What is information overload?
Information overload can be described as the state where the input of information into a system exceeds its capacity to process it. Effective multitasking is impossible for most individuals. The vast majority of people cannot focus on more than one task at a time.
Our powers of concentration, evolved over centuries when we lived in smaller communities that had a limit on the sharing of information, cannot cope with the demands of the highly-connected modern connected world. With limited cognitive capability, an excess of information can render both individuals and organizations paralyzed and unproductive.
So, how bad is the information glut?
Information overload: Facts and figures
In 2018, the International Data Corporation predicted that the world’s data would grow to 175 zettabytes in 2025.
The data the world will create in the next three years will exceed all data generated over the past 30 years.
It’s estimated that the collective losses that are a direct and indirect result of information overload will be around $650 billion. That’s the cost of interruptions to productivity.
A study found out that the IQ of employees dropped by around ten points due to distractions from phone calls and emails.
Employees treat a third of all emails they receive as unnecessary.
The same study found out that employees in the knowledge economy average 20 hours every week managing their emails.
In a company with 1000 employees, it’s estimated that all workers collectively will waste around 655,000 hours every year searching for information to do their jobs.
Knowledge workers change tasks every three minutes.
Media consumption across all channels and formats is estimated to take more than 13 and a half hours every day.
About 5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day.
Of all the data created, only about 0.5 percent is analyzed.
Starting in 2009, October 20 is annually celebrated as the information overload day.
How information overload affects employeesWhile it’s clear that information overload is prevalent in almost all sectors, workers in the knowledge economy are more likely to suffer from it. The primary reason for it is that creating and duplicating information has become exceedingly easy. With a cursory online search, any individual can create data and encourage the system to duplicate it, which will crowd the pipeline.
The deluge of information coming through emails and phone calls put exceptional pressure on employees. A survey found out that 18 percent of workers suffer from information overload, with eight percent feeling overwhelmed.
The reason they can’t stop the information intake is the fear that they might miss out on data needed for their work. Peer pressure also plays a crucial part as employees don’t want to come across as less interested in research or the latest information relevant to their tasks.
This leads to information padding where quantity is preferred over quality. All reports, emails, presentations, and analyses are stuffed with data that puts a severe burden on the recipient. They may not understand what the information points to and will end up spending an inordinate amount of time processing it.
This doesn’t mean that the information they receive increases their productivity or employee engagement. Due to the frustrations around finding the right information, 16 percent of employees are ready to leave their organizations. The same survey found out that nearly half of all employees feel less confident and engaged in their work.
The attempt to multitask also leaves employees exhausted. Constantly having to shuffle between different sources of information takes its toll. Interruptions add up to 28 percent of a typical workday for employees.
How ModuleQ can help you
There’s way too much information created every day irrespective of the need for it or its utility. In most cases, increasingly, the process of information generation is automated. What’s needed is intelligent and intuitive filtering and dissemination of information.
ModuleQ uses AI to deliver relevant and insightful information that helps organizations focus on their core competencies. We deliver news curated from over 4000 sources in the form of content cards that are relevant for individuals and teams. This helps employees and teams gain real-time insights on topics that matter to them.
Information overload isn’t going to disappear. It’s only going to get worse. What you need is a system that will absorb it and deliver only what’s needed for you and your teams.