Monday, July 12, 2010

Economic risks of data overload

By Ed Pearce ( of eGistics (

When data pours in by the millisecond and the mountain of information builds continuously, professionals inevitably cut corners and go with their 'gut' when making decisions that can impact financial markets, medical treatments or any number of time sensitive matters, according to a new study from Thomson Reuters. The study indicates that when faced with unsorted, unverified "raw" data, 60 percent of decision-makers will make "intuitive" decisions that can lead to poor outcomes.

Many government regulators have flagged increased financial risk-taking, which can be traced in some degree to imperfectly managed data, as a contributor to the recent financial crisis. Moreover, the world is awash with data -- roughly 800 exabytes -- and the velocity of information is increasing, Thomson Reuters says.

The challenge is that the staffing and investment needed to ensure that information and information channels are trusted, reliable and useful is not keeping pace. In fact, it is estimated that the information universe will increase by a factor of 44; the number of managed files by a factor of 67; storage by a factor of 30 but staffing and investment in careful management by a factor of 1.4.

"The solution to data overload is to provide decision makers with what Thomson Reuters calls Intelligent Information: better organized and structured information, rapidly conveyed to the users preferred device," says David Craig, executive vice president and chief strategy officer.

Fortunately, as the Thomson Reuters study notes, the same technological revolution that has resulted in the explosion of information also opens the way to new and improved tools for providing intelligent information: better organized and structured information, rapidly conveyed to the user's preferred device.

"We must use the benefits of the information technology revolution to minimize its risks. This is a joint task that the private sector and governments must closely focus on if we are to avoid systemic crises, in the future, whether we speak of finance, healthcare delivery, international security and a myriad of other areas," comments Craig.

How is your organization managing information overload?

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