Navigating the Information Explosion By Harnessing the True Power of Data

Written By: David Linthicum
February 29, 2024
7 min read

This guest blog post is from David S. Linthicum, Enterprise Technology Analyst for SiliconANGLE and theCUBE.

Today, information is emerging as a powerful weapon that can catapult businesses to success or leave them bogged down in a sea of data. The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and automation has led to an explosion of this data. Indeed, it presents both opportunities and challenges for organizations.

So, what are the most effective ways to leverage data effectively? In this article, we will delve into the complexities of the information explosion and explore strategies for organizations to unlock the actual value of data and how this problem can be solved today.

The state of information overload

The Problem of Information as "noise" means that the sheer volume of generated information can overwhelm businesses. Analysts and surveys have highlighted the struggle faced by organizations in extracting meaningful insights from massive amounts of data, some of which are highly valuable. You must figure out how to find it.

The consequences of this problem include decision paralysis, inefficient allocation of resources, and a need for more clarity. To address this issue, businesses must develop strategies to cut through the “noise” that too much data can bring, focusing on what truly matters in their ability to be optimally productive and drive net innovation. Both activities bring more revenue and value to the business.

But it’s something where technology can’t just be tossed at this problem. High volumes of information are increasingly the norm for most who are asked to contribute to business productivity. Gartner surveyed nearly 1000 employees and managers – and found that 38% of employees say they receive an “excessive” volume of communications. Moreover, only 13% said they received less information today than they did the year before.

In the same survey, 27% of employees reported feeling somewhat overloaded by information. Indeed, employees say they are overwhelmed by the number of information sources available and feel there is no point in keeping track of the information they receive. This data meshes with research on the state of modern work by Quickbase.

Moreover, Quickbase’s study found that half of survey respondents waste more than 10 hours per week chasing information from different people and systems. What is more, another 10 hours per week on administrative, manual work. What is the result of all this? Less time to work on what's important, thus less productivity and less overall revenue for the business.

Managing information productivity

This has many adverse outcomes, most of which everyone experiences within their careers. We’ve all seen first-hand the effects of having so much information available that it has much less value. Indeed, the tidbits of beneficial details are often overlooked, considering that it’s lost in a sea of information, as previously revealed in the survey. This leads to “Gray Work,” leading to much less value created by employees' efforts or even information systems relied upon.

Gray Work refers to ad-hoc solutions and workarounds implemented when technology fails or falls short of meeting the needs of the specific information worker. This often involves disconnected systems, makeshift processes, and ineffective collaboration. The existence of Gray Work clearly can harm revenue, productivity, and employee morale. This is because information workers see diminishing benefits from the deluge of data at a massive scale and become less effective in the ability to do their jobs. It is in systems that aren’t connected; it is built on the fly and is not conducive to solid collaboration. It impacts revenue, productivity, and employee frustration at scale.

Organizations where too much Gray Work exists face numerous challenges. These include inefficient and time-consuming processes that hinder productivity. Also, a lack of visibility and collaboration across loosely coupled systems impedes project execution. Additionally, the ad-hoc nature of Gray Work often results in suboptimal outcomes, sometimes outright costly mistakes. This leads to employee frustration and negatively impacts their performance and thus, the value they can create for the business is reduced.

Framing a solution

Let’s refer to the figure below, where it’s easy to depict your state of things by considering where you exist on the “data value curve.” The idea is that there is an ideal state of information consumption and way of information consumption that provides the most productivity for a worker in a specific role.

The value curve of data depicts the point where information is optimized for specific users and domains.

Also, note that spending money does not necessarily increase the value since value is the ability to enhance KPIs (key performance indicators), or how we define where the KPIs are optimized based on the benefit to the business and the money spent. Too much spending does not provide more value since the value is reduced by the excess expenditure needed to get to the same KPIs.

So, how do we move to the crest of the value curve? To combat the challenges of information overload, businesses must adopt strategic approaches that focus on extracting targeted insights from the vast amount of data pushed at them. One solution pattern involves abstracting meaningful information and providing dynamic usage for details for specific users and specific domains. For instance, an accounts receivable processor, as the user, works in accounting, which is their domain.

This enables organizations to leverage data collaboratively across different areas, promoting productivity and innovation correctly. The essence of solving this problem is to emphasize dynamic information visibility for users and domains. This is crucial, ensuring relevant and real-time access to information. The objective is to transition to a real-time enterprise that leverages technologies enabling instant information access so organizations can tap into new ways of working.

Rise of dynamic work

So, if Gray Work is the problem, how do we move to factoring it out? This means understanding the need for dynamic work to improve information productivity. When leveraging dynamic work, organizations must prioritize eliminating Gray Work and finding a more productive state.

One approach is to abandon outdated manual systems, such as spreadsheets, and adopt platforms that facilitate dynamic work, such as Quickbase. These platforms provide the visibility and connectivity necessary for effective collaboration, enabling teams to work more streamlined and with greater agility. Remember that dynamic work is a desired end state, not a set of tools. Thus, it’s helpful to understand the benefit of the dynamic work concept first.

As we can see by the figure, dynamic work is at the crest of the data value curve. This means that its use, both the concept and the tooling, can provide the height of business value if implemented correctly. Again, both the idea and the tool.

By leveraging the concept of dynamic work and thus avoiding Gray Work, organizations can gain numerous benefits, such as enhanced productivity, streamlined processes, and improved project outcomes. This is easily measured if you consider the “to be” state of productivity while using Gray Work and the exact productivity measurements when implementing dynamic work practices and tooling.

If this concept is used correctly, dynamic work can foster innovation and encourage cross-functional collaboration, which means more innovation and the value it can create. Remember that businesses are valued today more on their ability to innovate than on revenue growth. While you need both to create innovative value, focusing on better customer experiences and supply chain automation, for example, can pay back 1000 times any investment made.

Automation is a core component of dynamic work. What’s more, it’s vital in optimizing productivity to automate repetitive tasks and the ability to target the correct data for the most productive purposes.

Available tooling supporting dynamic work

Effective collaboration and communication within people, teams, and departments (domains) are essential for sustaining a productive workforce. Businesses need meaningful insights to make informed decisions. This ensures information visibility tailored to the purpose of the task and the mission. Business process optimization (BPO) is crucial to leveraging data for strategic purposes, eliminating redundancy, and streamlining operations.

Quickbase can assist organizations in addressing the challenges of the problems arising around the information explosion. Providing features such as data consolidation, automation, collaboration, and real-time visibility, Quickbase’s Dynamic Work Management Platform is a vital tool in assisting you in unlocking the value of data. The objective is to empower businesses to streamline their processes, enhance collaboration, and make data-driven decisions that can ultimately drive success.

With over 30 years of experience in enterprise technology, David Linthicum is a globally recognized thought leader, innovator, and influencer in cloud computing, AI, and cybersecurity. He is the author of over 17 best-selling books, over 7,000 articles, and over 50 courses on LinkedIn Learning. He is also a frequent keynote speaker, podcast host, and media contributor on topics related to digital transformation, cloud architecture, AI, and cloud security.

David Linthicum headshot

David S. Linthicum is an Enterprise Technology Analyst for SiliconANGLE and theCUBE, with over 30 years experience in technology.