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Going From Info Overload To Action

The Technology community has discussed and debated the impact of information abundance for many years. By itself, info abundance is simply a positive spin on information overload.  It is the consequence of abundance on our business and professional lives (increasingly intertwined) that are interesting.

Let’s get to the heart of why we care at all – creating value i.e. innovation, service to customers, leadership, risk management etc.  The importance of information and shared insight in enabling these value-creating activities is well accepted. However, there has always been a caveat: the volume of available information is overwhelming, so we can only do our best.  During the first decade or two of our digital transition, that caveat was valid.

This was underscored for me recently during a conversation with a CEO who observed how important it was to build a culture of continuous learning.  To paraphrase, if people within the organization are not learning, their value to customers is diminished which in-turn means their value to the organization is diminished.  Leaders can’t let that happen.

There can be little doubt that we are entering an era that requires aggressive information management, especially for companies looking to establish or maintain a long-term competitive edge, since that edge is now moving faster than ever and with increasing nuance. Certainly, executives are starting to see higher levels of accountability for data management behaviors, with the expectation that they transform valuable information into business behavior that drives innovation, and ultimately, the bottom line.

This concept of doing something with information has a cold, hard reality – we have 24 hours in a day and we have a finite amount of attention we can devote to anything.  This is why the next phase of innovation in information management must focus on how information is used rather than how it is produced and stored. While those two macro considerations are related, a focus on the latter is going to produce incredible changes in our ability to do something with information. This is why the future belongs to those who can take information overload and create action.

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