Saturday, 27 January 2007


Todd Bishop posted an article recently in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about something called Infomania, which I found very interesting. When you first hear that term, you think it's one of those terms that you here in things such as management speak. However, it's a bit more than pointless terminology.
"A September 2005 study by Basex Inc. estimated that interruptions from e-mail, Web browsing, instant messaging and other electronic communications cost U.S. companies $588 billion a year. It estimated that interruptions constituted 28 percent of the average knowledge worker's day."
As this study had such stark stats, Microsoft held a two-day workshop recently to find ways of removing the problem, or at least making it less of a worry.

There was a good point made in this article though. This entirely depends on how many times a person checks their email, how many RSS feeds they have, etc. Also, their particular role might mean they don't have as many emails as others. It's an estimation - not a fact. This means we have to investigate further.

The executive summary is the only part of the report that I'm able to get hold of because I'm not prepared to pay £199 for the whole thing! Naturally, as it's only a summary, it doesn't tell you much. However, it does include what Basex consider to be the four main categories:
  • Total interruptions
  • Dominant interruptions
  • Distractions
  • Background activities
Total interruptions are obviously the worst. These would presumably be things such as power cuts or system crashes - they prevent you from doing any work. The dominant interruptions would be those that slowed you down considerably, but weren't so bad that you couldn't do work. The other two are less worrying.

Another thing the report summary mentions is that it's important to use the right program (also known as the 'horses for courses' principle).

The problem with this is that for huge global corporations such as Microsoft, they live by email and IM. Without those valuable communication tools things could grind to a halt. Any reduction in usage would mean that things would grind to a halt. There's also the possibility that the more communications mechanisms you have, the better. It makes the company more dynamic and if one system were to fail - you could always use the other.

So what do you think?

Technorati tags: Infomania, Information, IT


(float*) said...

how much work time is lost by people writing their blogs, eh? :P