Reuters warns of data overload

Research from Reuters reveals major differences in the way nationalities are coping with the challenges of the information age. The Reuters report, Out of the Abyss: Surviving the Information Age, surveyed over 1,000 business managers in 11 countries around the globe. It identifies the concept of an information overload, in which the deluge of data and information available threatens to overwhelm individuals or firms.

The principal findings of the research indicate three phases in the information age. It is thought that Western Europe, the USA and Japan have entered a new phase in which individuals and companies are confident in their use of information technologies. The South Eastern Asian economies, though, are thought to be suffering the negative effects of information overload.

A key aspect of this is the inability to access the information they really need. The third stage applies to Eastern European firms who are at the pre-information stage, unable to access information.

In the UK nearly half of respondents felt that the problem of data overload left them with less free time, thus putting a strain on their personal relationships, with 42 percent saying it led to decreased job satisfaction.

Of UK managers, 44 percent believe that printed matter was the biggest contributor to the problem. They see two main methods of combating the problems of the information age: 38 percent believe investment in training to be an effective workplace solution, while 24 percent think the implementation of an information management policy to be crucial.

Charles Oppenheim, professor of information science at Loughborough, said: “It is clear that in the current volatile economic climate, it is critical that people have immediate access to information that affects their livelihood … information management has therefore now become an issue of international, macro-economic importance. Information adroitly applied could help to build bridges to safely cross the deep economic fissures now appearing around the globe.”

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