How to improve productivity and reduce data blindness with better systems

Have you heard? The Information Age is over.

We’re now entering the Age of Too Much Information, says researcher and knowledge consultant Timothy Powell.

The sheer volume of data today’s enterprises collect is overwhelming employees to the point that they’re unable to use it effectively. When companies have more data than they’re able to process, it becomes digital noise that “clogs, distorts, and even shuts down the perceptual channels within the organization,” Powell says. Instead of becoming more informed, they simply become data blind.

Data blindness occurs whenever businesses or employees: 

  • Can’t distinguish the useful data from the junk
  • Are unable to retrieve data in a timely fashion
  • Have trouble converting data into actionable insights
  • Selectively believe data that supports what they want to hear
  • Use data to justify, rather than make, decisions

“Are we controlling the data, or is the data controlling us?” asks entrepreneur Jon Hansen. “Are we seeing more but knowing less?”

Companies that use big data effectively are, on average, 5 percent more productive and 6 percent more profitable than their competitors. But too much data comes at a price. Employees waste time, money, and attention processing information that’s irrelevant to the organization’s competitive strategy—sapping resources from the things that do matter.

What causes data blindness? 

Despite the $31 billon a year businesses spend on big data technology, fewer than one in three describe their efforts as successful.

For the other two-thirds, data blindness is often the culprit. The technology collects information in vast repositories but doesn’t do anything with it. Without the right tools for gleaning useful intelligence from raw data, decision makers become overwhelmed and lose their ability to make sound decisions.

“In most cases, huge amounts of data are available, but the ability to discern the important information from the garbage isn’t,” says CEO Bob Suh. “Organizations can become mired in collecting and charting existing transaction data and lose sight of the decisions they seek to change.”

Data becomes invisible when it’s buried inside legacy systems of record, inert and difficult to access. When employees need data, it takes up to eight searches just to find the right document or info. Employees spend nearly 2 hours a day searching and gathering information. That adds up to 20 percent of an organization’s time—or one full working day a week—wasted on the data hunt.

“Unfortunately, overwhelming data volumes force many projects to spend most of their resources processing and charting data, with little left to focus on decisions,” Suh says.

Making data visible again

Bringing data back into view isn’t as hard as you might think. What organizations need is a system of engagement that pulls data from the system of record and puts it back into action—in a way that empowers, rather than overwhelms, decision makers.

Sapho’s modern portal experience, for example, uses micro apps to funnel data from legacy systems and deliver it into an easy-to-use interface where employees can quickly view the data they need, when they need it. Designed to boost efficiency and fuel productivity, micro apps help cure data blindness by:

1) Simplifying the user experience.

Employees use just 20 percent of their software’s features. The other 80 percent don’t merely go to waste—they actually make the software harder to use. Too many choices can paralyze our decision-making, a phenomenon psychologist Barry Schwartz calls the paradox of choice. “A complex interface can reduce user effectiveness, increase the learning curve of the application, and cause users to feel intimidated and overwhelmed,” says Facebook product designer Brandon Walkin.

2) Reducing visual noise.

Even if the features are streamlined, a cluttered interface can increase your software’s perceived complexity. Keeping visual noise to a bare minimum, on the other hand, makes it appear easier to use. Incorporating plenty of white space and minimizing contrast are key tools for reducing visual noise. Design theorist Edward Tufte advocates using the smallest variation required to communicate an idea. “Practically, this means emphasizing what’s important and dialing back everything else,” says Smashing Magazine.

3) Putting data to work.

Just because employees have data in their hands doesn’t mean they know what to do with it. Enterprises need a system of engagement that helps them make sense of it all. “It is not sufficient simply to focus on exposing, collecting, storing, and sharing data in the raw,” says researcher Niall Sclater. “It is what you do with it—and when—that counts.”

For example, Sapho micro apps:

  • Filters out the excess “junk” and provides employees with personalized system data and current tasks
  • Converts data into actionable insights so they make better informed business decisions
  • Surfaces relevant tasks and data at the right time to the right person
  • Personalizes delivery so employees get only what they need wherever they are, on any device

By making data visible again, Sapho’s micro apps, accessed through a modern portal, create a system of engagement that helps enterprises recover lost time and productivity while also fueling better decision making.

Welcome to the Age of Intelligent Data.

Want to learn more about how Sapho can help you triple employee productivity? 


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Elle Sidell

Elle Sidell is a Digital Marketing Manager at Sapho. She joins from AVG Technologies where she worked on web content for business stakeholders. Her previous experience includes content creation, copywriting, and managing the online presence of several SaaS services.

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