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Are Organizations Likely to Find Better Solutions to Information Overload Through Changes to Their Technical or Social Systems?
In various forms, we human beings are suffering from information overload. The term "Information Overload" clicks one sentence in our minds and that is "Too Much Information." The information theorists have defined typologies that distinguish between data, information and knowledge. Most organizations are unable to identify relevant material on timely basis; this requires management through information tools. This essay is based on an analysis whether better solutions to information overload can be achieved through changes to organizations' social systems or technical systems- or both? This essay also explains how a "socio-technical" perspective involving joint consideration of both systems together may be better than dealing with either system by itself.
Are Organizations Likely to Find Better Solutions to Information Overload Through Changes to Their Technical or Social Systems?
The term "Information Overload" is referred to as information smog, information glut or information asphyxiation. This term can be defined as receiving information at a rapid rate and therefore cannot be assimilated. This particularly leads to the saturation of information. When information overload occurs within an organization, it starts paying less attention to each message and indirectly less information is received. Organizations that have enough communication access and technology experience such problems. An information theorist has defined information overload as the economic loss of information that is associated with examination of several relevant or non-relevant messages, which are related to the information retrieval models. "People find it ever more difficult to cope with all the new information they receive, constant changes in the organizations and technologies they use, and increasingly complex and unpredictable side-effects of their actions. This leads to growing stress and anxiety" (Heylighen, 2002).
The organizations are likely to find better solutions to information overload through changes to both technical and social systems. "The problem of information overload is a significant one for contemporary organizations; it can affect productivity, decision-making, and employee morale. Organizations often resort to investing in technical solutions such as business intelligence software or semantic technologies" (Whelan & Teigland, 2011). Information overload is also defined as degradation of information. When information is irrelevant, noise like and redundant and interferes with the desired signals; it is the degradation of information.
Within organizations, information overload is the presence of more information, which can assimilate, synthesize and absorb feelings in the individuals that are working in the organization. They may be aware of the relevant information but they do not have time to use and locate that information. Employees working in any organization start feeling helpless when they attempt to sort out relevant, current and appropriate information as too much information is available in both electronic and print form.
A social system within an organization consists of people-organization relationships. These relationships are interpreted by organizational behavior. The purpose of organizational behavior is to achieve organizational objectives, social objectives and human objectives in order to build good relationships. A technical system within an organization is the structure of technicalities. The third most important term is the "Socio-technical system." This is an approach used in organizational development. It recognizes an interaction between technology and people in the organization. It is a joint optimization; developing relationships between technical and socio elements for the emergence of well-being and productivity.
To achieve solutions for information overload issues in organization; changes in social and technical systems are required. The organization has to focus on changing the habits and employees' working style. "Encourage leaders and their teams to discuss openly how they choose to focus, filter, and forget; how they support each other in creating the necessary time and space to perform at their best; and how they enable others, throughout the organization, to do the same" (McKinsey & Company, 2011).
Within any modern professional organization, email is a popular mean of communication. It just takes a few seconds to send and receive an email; as it is a written form of information, exchanged online within employees of various organizations. Now considering this mean of communication; employees have to recognize the potential limitations of their emails.
Managers receive an excessive amount of emails everyday thus creating information overload. "New information technologies may create radical change in organizations and in managers who must manage that change; such technologies could be either an opportunity or a threat. Electronic mail is among the most prevalent of those new technologies in the modem organization" (Bell, 2000). Given the low cost and ease of internet, a message can be typed within few minutes. It can be sent to hundreds of people or can be uploaded on a website. Hence it results in unclear, irrelevant and erroneous data fragments. This is actuality the overabundance of information (low quality information). Junk email messages (called as "Spam"), carry chain letters, commercial publicity or scam are automatically distributed to the email addresses of millions of people.
We have to control the technology that we are using within the organizations. It is too fast and brings information that is uncontrollable by us. "The machines we have invented to produce, manipulate and disseminate information generate information faster than we can process it. Abundance of information threatens to engulf and diminish control over the situation. It is recognized that stress can be experienced from a feeling of lack of control" (Morris & Edmunds, 2000).
For millions of people, technology has contributed a lot to the organizational effectiveness, societal progress and management of daily life. The best solution to the problem like the information overload lies in even more advanced technology. Employees working in big organizations require more creative ploys, advanced search engines and sophisticated filters on the Web. These will help to draw their attention to some of the best resources of information. Technical advances will always continue to offer solutions to problem of information overload. The employees have to adjust their expectations on how much exact information they need.
Information overload promotes fault thinking and fuels stress. The organizations have to make their employees realize that if they are investing high quantity of time then they are not necessarily generating high quality work. Large quantities of gathered information cannot help employees to make good decisions; rather taking time for absorbing, processing, reflecting, analyzing and discussing information at hand will help them perform better.
Technical tools are used for assimilating the information to turn into some useful knowledge. Both social and technical systems of an organization can be improved to find better solutions to the problem of information overload. There are some recommendations for employees in order to manage information overload. They should evaluate email practices, revise research activities, revise their information practices, and deal quickly with the information and to deal with the voice mail. They should avoid multitasking as it will make them work slowly, hampers creativity and can make them anxious. Another way for dealing with information overload is to adopt a holistic approach.
Some simple approaches can be adopted for dealing with the problem of information overload. The employees should focus more on the quality of information. They should spend less time on the gaining of information. They should realize that they have to invest more time on the stuff that they need to know. They have to be precise and direct; avoiding multi-tasking and adopting single tasking as it will keep their mind focused on a single issue at a time. They should stay disconnected from some technologies including telephones.
Also processing of information is very important. Individuals working in organization exchange information. Instead of being precise and to the point while forwarding and receiving files via email, they do not mark or highlight the important points present within the document. This affects saving of time. When an employee has read the entire document…[continue]
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