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Information Overload Challenges Workplace

Modern comms more frictionless, but users need help to keep ahead of information overload

Information Overload Challenges Workplace

Modern communication platforms are said to have made day-to-day work more frictionless but have resulted in people having to constantly switch between platforms to maintain productivity.

Speaking at event for press in London, Jim Somers (above, right), vice president of marketing for GoToMeeting, said that communications platforms, such as Slack, were meant to make users “less busy” and kill off email, but the opposite happened with users having to manage two platforms.

But Somers said that the reason for hating it (multiple platforms to manage) had now been replaced by a reason to love it. He said that such platforms have turned into a giant discovery tool, a record keeper that he can go back to find out information from what others have said to him in the past.

Somers said that over the past 20 years businesses have “wrung out like a sponge” all the productivity they can through communications platforms and now we were down to the “bare metal”, which is the human ability to process information set before us.

Keoki Andrus (above, left), vice president of Product, Unified Communication and Collaboration at LogMeIn, said the process of trawling through previous communications and curating and un-curating information “burns a tonne of time”.

“It also ends up being a substitute for productivity because we spend all of our time trying to interact with our communication, as opposed to sitting back and saying, ‘what’s the most valuable thing I could be accomplishing in my job today?’”

“We burned eight hours going through information and never produced anything,” he said. “And yet, there is actionable productive stuff that needs to be done.”

Platform channels proliferating

Modern communication platforms have channels which have proliferated in organisations. But while people move between them during the workday, they can often find themselves in the wrong one. Andrus said that this happens when an email exchange has to become a phone call or a conference call because it is too high bandwidth for the participants and otherwise impacts the efficiency of the communication.

“On top of that, in every one of those channels, we have massive amounts of information coming. And unless you just are a communications-aholic, spending all your time trying to process all those channels to make sure I’m not missing something, at some point, you hit this overload where you cannot keep track of all the threads.”

It is all too easy to spend the whole day processing information available from all channels and not getting anything done. Andrus said that his company is thinking about the use of artificial intelligence to pull communications together into a unified history.

He said it was up to the industry to “crack the code on this, because all we’ve done is turned the world into people who are going every day through channel to channel to channel trying to keep up”.

“We are now overwhelmed with our communication. And even though we have more technology than ever, our productivity is beginning to decline,” he warned

 

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