Foreword: Have you ever had one of those days where you have been out of the office and returned to an email inbox that is creaking at the seams? I am probably lucky in that I can manage my inbox proactively by using my PDA. Some would argue I have sold my soul to the ‘always-on’ personal time vampire, but that is tale for another day…..
In a world where email is commonly accepted as the primary electronic corporate communication mechanism, employees often find themselves having to filter through huge amounts of irrelevant emails to find those that are really intended for them. Assimilating the various pieces of information we deal with every day, prioritising the results and making decisions as to which to action, is a natural and logical process, one that we all do as a matter of course.
A problem however arises when the occurrence of these pieces of structured and unstructured information exceeds a threshold that is not always manageable by the individual. The resulting information overload can create an unintentional human bottleneck that may impede the normal workings of the organisation. On an individual basis this may seem like a manageable a problem but, consider multiplying this scenario by 50% of employees in an organisation on any given working day of the week.
This problem is validated by research from The Radicati Group into Information Overload and Corporate Email.
“In 2006, the average corporate e-mail user received 126 e-mail messages per day, an increase of 55% since 2003.
If users spend an average of one minute to read and respond to each message, this flood of e-mail traffic will consume more than a quarter of the typical eight hour work day – with no guarantee that users actually read the messages that are most important.
Additionally, if e-mail traffic continues to increase at this rate, the average corporate e-mail user will spend 41% of the workday managing e-mail messages in 2009.”