Home IORG Discusses Solutions for Info Overload

IORG Discusses Solutions for Info Overload

On July 15th, the Information Overload Research Group (IORG) held their inaugural conference in New York City. The group, whose founders include IBM, Microsoft, Google, Intel, and a dozen other companies and academic institutions, is on a mission to find solutions to today’s information overload problems. In attendance at this first conference were both representatives from from the above companies as well as others from all over the world. Now that this event has ended, lets see what we’ve learned.

Thanks to IORG member and blogger Jared Goralnick, we have a great review of the highlights from the event including historical data, quotes, discussion topics, and even possible software solutions:

Information Overload By the Numbers

  • $650 billion: Annual cost of interruptions for knowledge workers in the United States
  • 28% of a worker’s time is spent dealing with interruptions that are neither urgent nor important
  • 6 Hours Per Week: Time lost due to context switching (multi-tasking, pausing, etc) – Does this means the Louis Gray’s and Scobles are still few and far between?

Intel also contributed their own internally collected numbers:

  • Average employee receives 350 messages per week
  • Average executive receives over 300 messages per day
  • Employees spend about 20 hours per week managing email, 2 hours of which is unnecessary email

Discussing Solutions

When talking about solutions to the information overload problem, the key areas that were touched on were process, training, and raising awareness. Intel also mentioned a couple of solutions they have implemented themselves – one being the use of “quiet periods” of 4 hours twice per week where people can disconnect from communication and fully focus on getting things done. They also make use of an internal software program called the “Intel Email Effectiveness Coach,” that warns people when they’re about to do something stupid, like send a message to 2000 people. (Wow – they should sell that!)

As far as software solutions go, Jared provides us a short list of the highlights. Here’s what he said stood out:

    • RescueTime – keeps track of not just your activities on your computer but those of your office mates, enabling you to see how you stack up and when you’re slacking
    • Slife – similar to RescueTime in that it gathers statistics about computer usage, but data is primarily kept locally rather than “in the cloud”
    • SmartDesktop – Imagine your computer knew what was contextually relevant no matter what you were doing on it. (Private Beta)
    • Seriosity – an economics-based approach to email management whereby one attaches virtual currency to their messages
    • ActionBase – Turns Outlook into a database of sorts for knowledge management and wiki-like email correspondence
    • Talk2Us – Jared called this one a “crazy voice recognition manage-your-life software that’s in private beta”
    • ClearContext – Helps you to better identify important information, group relevant items together, and generally have a better workflow within Outlook
    • Permessa -Enterprise unified messaging for performance and compliance monitoring

    Jared himself is also the creator of AwayFind, a tool that lets you get away from email without getting out of reach.

    We will take a look at some of these other solutions over the coming weeks here at RWW and let you know what we think.

    Image Credit: Autoroute: Mzlle Biscotte

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