Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Searching For Content Is Work. Not Waste

A 2012 McKinsey study found that 35% of an employee's time is wasted in searching and organizing content. The study went on to say that social technologies can address this problem. I believe there are two flaws in that argument.

First, searching and organizing information for oneself and others is work, not waste in todays information economy. In fact, those who have the skills to search, organize and synthesize information will do better than others who do not have such skills. Bruce Greenwald, my competitive strategy professor at Columbia business school in New York told me that students who had to search for and organize class notes do better in his class than those students who got well organized course content printed and delivered to them by the professor.

Second, social technologies are exacerbating the problem. Not solving them. While social technologies have many advantages reducing the time we search for information is not one of them. I have a ring side view of this problem at SAP. We use multiple social technologies at SAP and we are spending more time than before searching for information using those tools. That is not a bad thing. Since search is part of everyday work, searching using social technologies have become a central part of work.
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