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Better Solutions for Information Overload

In: Computers and Technology

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Better Solutions to Information Overload
Substantial information overload is present in every organization. I can recall specifically working in the Marketing/IT department for a small computer outsourcing firm several years ago in Omaha, Nebraska. The company’s business model was to show potential clients that outsourcing their finance, IT and HR department’s data systems with their firm could save them tremendously short and long term. The company invested millions of dollars into state-of-the-art data storage facilities that housed numerous amounts of data. These storage facilities could withstand everything mother nature could through at it. In 1998, this was a great business model, considering the millennium bug or Y2K problem was the hot IT issue. At the same time, I thought it was a strike contrast that a small, up and coming IT company would neglect internal issues that would impede their employees from making the company competitive. The company decided to implement an internal website or intranet as the focal point for retrieving data. The company’s intranet had an abundance of information that was injected with data from a barrage of sources. According to a 2009 report by Watson Wyatt, “only 50% of employees accessed the intranet on a daily basis; 80% said their company’s system needed improvement; and 50% said searching on their intranet was too difficult” (Nasiri, 2009). Based on my past experiences, I think organizations are likely to find better solutions to information overload through changes to their technical systems.
As a Marketing Specialist, my main goal was to market the company products in a way that would make every organization want to do business with us, even the Fortune 500 companies who already had mega contracts with some of our top competitors. In the marketing department, we relied heavily on the intranet as a source to assist us with marketing campaigns. Working with a small budget, the company’s primary marketing strategy involved direct mail exclusively. The company purchased databases from various companies that specialized in providing information on CEO’s, CFO’s and CIO’s of respective companies. Although the databases weren’t raw data, it was simply a mirage of information that had to be broken down to the nuts and bolts for the information that we really needed to have a successful direct mailing campaign. As Bellinger at el, states, “Information is data that has been given meaning by way of relational connection” (Bellinger, Castro, Mills, 2004). All of these various databases were inputted into the company’s intranet and thus created an overload of information.
Overload has also triggered pragmatic responses, as generations have done their best to locate and use the information they seek, under inevitable constraints of time, energy, and other resources (Blair, 2006). This is a well-conceived point since Blair based her findings on information overload from the past to the present day. With the increase in electronic media, organizations must also be cognizant of what is actual information. Besides sorting through information, it is increasingly difficult to distinguish what is real data and knowledge. Let’s take a closer look at data. As I previously mentioned, the data we received was undiluted raw data. It simply exists and has no significance beyond its existence (in and of itself). It can exist in any form, usable or not. It does not have meaning of itself. In computer parlance, a spreadsheet generally starts out by holding data (Bellinger at el, 2004). Furthermore, Bellinger et al, states that data that are processed to be useful; provides answers to "who", "what", "where", and "when" questions.
Social media is another issue that plays a huge role in effecting technical systems within an organization. Certain aspects of knowledge in hands-on professions (e.g., mechanics and surgeons) cannot be captured by a knowledge repository, much less by social media. This is because the learning is very much “mind-body.” You must learn by doing (Liu & Errey, 2006). The study by Liu et al, further illustrates how employees within an organization will need grasp or obtain the knowledge be doing. They must be willing to accept the aspects of social media if the organization will be willing to change. The point is that social media can speed the capture and dissemination of this type of knowledge. And therefore the lines between information and knowledge begin to blur (Liu & Errey, 2006).
Another noteworthy point is that the inundation or overload of information is not a new common theme. Organizations have been tackling this issue for decades. An organization would be at an advantage if they continue to monitor and upgrade their technical systems. Failure to accomplish this could result in the company’s demise. CEO’s and other leaders strive to keep the company above the threshold of sustainability by alleviating employee resistance of new information technology. By understanding the consistent revolution of information system requirements, enables infrequent engaging system users need to determine which of their existing requirements have changed, what new requirements are at needed, and which former requirements are no longer functional.
The counter argument to my belief that organizations likely to find better solutions to information overload by changing its technical systems would not happen without changing social systems as well. I totally agree that it will be the employees utilizing the information technology to make the working environment better. However, I strongly feel like it’s the technical systems that could be made more user friendly to endure such changes. As stated in our module objectives, both systems are needed with an organization. Effective management requires that neither system dominate the other; rather, the two systems must be balanced with respect to each other for effective socio-technical performance (
Without a doubt, the general conclusion to the statement is that organizations can find better solutions to information overload by improving their technical systems. The socio-technical outlook and the variation for resources will need to be continually monitored so organizations will not succumb to an operational collapse due to poor decision making. With such a large overload of information within organizations, the development of tools, data and knowledge are needed to form a better, well equipped organization. Sorting these issues out within one’s organization and applying the best possible processes within a specific socio-technical system will not only lead to success, but it will create a better environment.

Blair, A. (2010) Information Overload, Then and Now. The Chronicle of Higher Education Review. November 28. Retrieved November 15, 2010 from
Bellinger, G., Castro, D., & Mills, A. (2004) Data, Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom. The Way of Systems. November 15, 2010 from
Green, P. (2010 ) Social Media Is Challenging Notions of the Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW) Hierarchy. CMS Wire. August 16. Retrieved November 25, 2010 from
Liu, X. and Errey, C. (2006) Socio-technical systems - there's more to performance than new technology. PTG Global. Retrieved February 27, 2011, from's%20more%20to%20performance%20than%20new%20technology%20v1.0.pdf
Nasiri, Sam (2009) HR Tech News, Survey: Employees don’t use company intranet. May 27, 2009 from

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