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Information Productivity as an Economic Issue

Contrast these two recent statements:

“U.S. productivity fell nearly a full percentage point in the first quarter this year. Businesses are scrambling to find ways to squeeze more juice out of the same orange.”

“The average employee spends nine hours per week searching for information that they need to do their job. If we could get this number down, the work of 4 employees would be comparable to having hired a fifth.”


See an opportunity for librarians and information professionals?

This study is a classic from 2005 but still worth a read:


The Hidden Costs of Information Work

Sponsored by:
Content Technologies Multiclient Study
Susan Feldman
 Joshua Duhl
Julie Rahal Marobella
Alison Crawford
March 2005
“When productivity rates leap, so do enterprise profits.
In the past century, we haveautomated blue-collar work, wringing more products out of every worker hour.
With the economy now becoming information-based rather than industrial, the next frontier is to make information work more productive. It is no wonder, then, that organizations are trying to analyze business processes in order to streamline them; eliminate duplication; and automate the predictable, repeatable steps that any such process includes.
Automating repetitive steps and eliminating those that waste time will increase information worker productivity and save an organization millions of dollars.
But information work — white-collar work — is difficult to analyze.
The product of knowledge work is ideas, documents, data.
How do we quantify both the number andquality of ideas that are produced?
This Content Technologies multiclient study set out to answer precisely this question.
During the summer of 2004, IDC surveyed 600 U.S. companies in three size categories and in four vertical industries — financial services, government, manufacturing, and healthcare.
We asked them how long they spent at various content-related tasks and what repetitive tasks they performed that were prime targets for automation or improvement, such as rekeying data or reformatting documents. We also asked them what authoring software, content management, or retrieval applications they had either developed or purchased and what content provider services they had subscribed to; how they were using them; and what the process was for deciding what to buy or build and how to implement it.
We found out what their collaboration patterns were, both inside and outside the organization.
Then we interviewed customers to fill in the cracks in the data with qualitative information.
The goal was to determine how content-related tasks were performed and what the prevailing attitudes were to investing in and using content management and retrieval applications.
What were the advantages?
What were the barriers to use and to investment?”
Check out this report:

I believe that the situation has gotten worse since 2005.  It’s time to focus our attention on information productivity for sustaining the global competitiveness of expensive knowledge workers in a knowledge based economy.  Of course, balancing productive and fast with quality and impact is the key.

If the first world doesn’t solve this issue, then there’s nothing stopping more outsourcing of high value knowledge worker jobs to people and countries that can do it more productively.



Posted on: September 27, 2012, 6:40 am Category: Uncategorized

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