With a little help from my friends

Companies need to emphasis social interactions in order to overcome “information overload,” according to Gartner Group. It reports that personal networks are still more beneficial to decision-making than technology.

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By  Neil Denslow Published  May 13, 2002

Companies need to put more emphasis on facilitating social interactions in order to overcome “information overload,” according to Gartner Group. It reports that personal networks are still more beneficial to decision-making than technological solutions, which can swamp users with data.

The rising number of information sources available to employees, such as the Internet, and intranets, is giving them access to an unmanageable amount of information. Gartner estimates that US$30 billion will be spent on Knowledge Management (KM) solutions in 2002, but its survey found that informal information sources, such as personal networks, were the most beneficial in decision-making. These types of networks were the most poorly managed by companies however.

“As computer technologies cannot understand human information needs, they are consequently only of limited help in filtering the flood of information available. However, it is easier for companies to implement technology rather than changing the principles and culture in a company to foster information flow,” explains Alexander Linden, research director at Gartner.

The analyst recommends that companies put more emphasis on social interactions by, for instance, creating the physical arrangements for them such as off-sites, cafeterias and lounges. Technological solutions, such as indexing, advanced search engines, expert location networks and electronic bulletin board may also be of use.

“It is obvious that companies who fail to address information overload will be penalised by lower productivity and the risk of making poor business decisions. However, just implementing technology will not do the problem justice. Companies will gain more value from their investment, if they motivate and facilitate the use of available KM resources as well as hiring the appropriate competence for linking knowledge resources, for example librarians,” Linden concludes.

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