Although John Mashey coined the term ‘big data’ nearly two decades ago, we owe the term’s increasing use to not only the fact that in 2011 – 2013, 90% of the world’s information had been created, but also because the trend intensified dramatically from that point forward.
Although many claim this proliferation of data and information has advanced humankind’s relationship with information, document management software, as this information’s best keeper, hadn’t yet been mass adopted by organizations.
The result? A lot of chaos and disarray in the form of duplicated information, and here are the 5 foremost ways it’s likely to be negatively impacting your organization.
- Missing Pieces of the Information Puzzle
There’s a tendency for employees of large organizations and small businesses alike to capture data via means most comfortable/familiar to them, and usually this entails indexing the information on paper and filing it away in a space native to the individual employees’ understanding – not the kind of central repository that document management software provides groups of employees with – a central repository that helps them work more collaboratively and effectively from one pool of catenary information.
When individuals take information into their own hands, it isn’t potentiated – making the missing pieces of the crucial information puzzle as numerous as they are troubling. Consequently, employees will likely duplicate efforts on similar documents and store them in different repositories, creating information that needn’t neither be created by two separate employees nor stored in two separate places.
- Needless Clutter
There is arguably no greater enemy to deriving insight from information than the clutter of information that has been needlessly duplicated. And not only is it a bane to office efficiency, it pulls at the heartstrings of pain to which even fictional gods can feel. For instance, Franz Kafka once wrote a parable called Poseidon, where even the eponymous Greek god of the sea was ‘drowning’ in paperwork and other mundanely painful, unneeded bureaucratic tasks.
Bound to his desk by needless paperwork (much of it likely duplicated), Poseidon couldn’t be the ruler of his own domain, much as workers can’t be the rulers of their own domains in paper-dependent organizations. When businesses duplicate information and store it in separate, individualized repositories such as filing cabinets at an employees’ desk, the clutter amasses, and the gems of data and information existing inside them become increasingly difficult to utilize.
- Opportunity Cost
In labor economics, opportunity cost is a cost incurred from choosing to do the wrong thing at any given moment – that wrong thing almost always being what doesn’t extract the maximum value from a specific scenario. When information is duplicated (by way of missing pieces of the information puzzle and needless clutter alike), the opportunity cost of finding that information isn’t maximized, even if the employee miraculously finds what he or she is looking for quickly despite trudging through the muck and mire of a paper-dependent filing system. Why? Because the employee would have to find both documents created on the same subject to get all of the information he or she is searching for in order to fully understand the subject of his or her inquiry. Although this is a complex concept, the versioning feature inherent to document management software prevents this. Instead of renaming files according to an arbitrary system, file versioning makes it easier to update versions of the same document without renaming the document and, therefore, keeps employees from needlessly duplicating information.
- Demotivated Employees
Let’s face it, finding information in some places is more fun than it is in others: For instance, if you’re an archeologist, astronomer, or biologist, finding the information you’re looking for can lead to a groundbreaking discovery, or at least increased understanding of your subject matter. This makes the pursuit of that information – even if through inefficient means – an exciting process. However, in a small to mid-sized organization’s office, searching for information in an inefficient way is the difference between keeping employees motivated and detracting from their focus, professional growth, and job satisfaction.
The problem of employee demotivation arises from the amount of clutter that duplicated information creates (see point 4). It’s hard to remain passionate about work when over one-fourth of the typical SMB employee’s day is spent searching for the information he or she needs to make crucial decisions, learn new information, or simply complete mission-critical functions in their jobs.