IT managers drowning in useless data

IT managers spend more than a quarter of their working time searching for information necessary to their jobs and when they do find it, it is often wrong, according to an Accenture survey.

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The online survey of more than 1,000 managers of large US and UK companies found that managers spend up to two hours a day searching for information and more than 50 per cent of the information they obtain has no value to them. Only half of all managers surveyed believed their companies did a good job in governing information distribution or established adequate processes to determine what data each part of an organisation needs.

Nearly three out of five respondents said that as a consequence of poor information distribution, they miss information that might be valuable to their jobs almost every day because it exists somewhere else in the company and they cannot find it.

Worryingly, 42 per cent of respondents said they accidentally use the wrong information at least once a week and 53 per cent said that less than half of the information they receive is valuable.

IT and HR managers are most likely to say that their ability to find the information for their jobs is hindered because there is “too much information”.

IT managers are the least likely to feel that the information they receive has value and they spend the most time trying to find it. IT managers said that, on average, less than half (44 per cent) of the information they receive for their job is of value. In addition, nearly half (47 percent) of IT managers – more than any other department — said they spend nearly 30 percent of their work week trying to track down relevant information for their jobs.

The proliferation of different information sources within organisations was cited as the most important reason why managing information is proving difficult. With an ever-increasing amount of information flooding the workplace — from email, IM systems and handheld devices like the Blackberry — the research highlights the extent to which companies must have the right processes to weed out useless data, as well as flagging the information that might be of use to other parts of the organisation.

“The findings show that companies are failing to get the right information to their employees,” said Royce Bell, CEO of Accenture Information Management Services. “People and organisations cannot keep up with the volume of information produced by technological innovation. Managers in particular are having great difficulty navigating a rapidly expanding sea of information and the situation is only getting worse.”

Part of the difficulty lies in the way managers are gathering and storing information. For example, the majority of managers in the survey said they store their most valuable information on their computer or individual email accounts, with only 16 per cent using a collaborative workplace such as a company’s intranet portal.

“Information is becoming a burden on knowledge workers and will remain so until companies consolidate and streamline the stores and sources of intelligence,” said Greg Todd, an AIMS senior executive. “Doing so will enable them to give back part of the working day to staff, helped by better governance, delivery, integration and the archiving and retention of information.”

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