This week I have been thinking a lot about how poorly we manage data and information. The quality of the data and the lack of needed data has historically been an issue at work. We have focused a lot of our time on data mining but never really recognized that one day there would be too much data and information for our staff to sift through. Recently, our managers proposed two new data sources for the operational staff to review and I decided that it was time to hit the panic button that we're currently giving out more information to our workers than they can handle.
When a business presents too much information to their staff it is a lot like catching deer in your headlights. If the deer is too overwhelmed to run and you don't steer the car out of the way then no good can come to both car and deer. This is where I think we are at work and we're needing to slow things down a bit to give both driver and deer time to think about their next move. For the moment at least, I'm personally at a lost on how best to solve our issues with information overload.
I came across a post by Lubor Ptacek that talks about a solution for too much information. He actually suggests that there are two solutions to information overload.
I’d argue that this problem hasn’t been solved today but we can see some approaches today. One is the best practices approach mimicking the paper world by separating important objects from the noise. This is mostly manual and its aim is to keep the ‘important stuff’ container down to a small number of objects. Another approach is emerging now – the use of content analytics and visualization technologies that can automatically classify important content and expose it to the user in relevant context, i.e. via faceted navigation or tag cloud based on dynamically generated content clusters.
Needless to say, I am a big fan of the automated approach. While still in its infancy, content analytics might be finally a way we could deal with the greatest challenge of our time – too much information.
The key phrase in this excerpt from Ptacek's post is "this problem hasn’t been solved today but we can see some approaches" that could help our issues with too much information. So while the article doesn't deliver a solution today for solving information overload at least it provides hope by taking at least taking some type of action against the problem. However, I think we're a long way in resolving this issue and a lot more needs to be done. I think all we really are doing at the moment is closing my eyes and hoping that the accident is somehow avoided. We really have to do a lot better if we're really going to save both car and deer from each other.