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Channel surfing: information overload

29 Nov 2011

A diagnosis has been made – and now the New Zealand reseller channel is being called on to help administer the treatment and help remedy an information glut which is costing New Zealand organisations $400 million per annum.

The latest Great Information Glut report, commissioned by Hitachi Data Systems and conducted by Deloitte Access Economics, shows 40% of New Zealand and Australian organisations are suffering from the ‘information glut’ – or unmanageable rise in information – blaming inadequate staffing, budgets and a sheer explosion in data growth. The figure is up from 35% in the 2009 survey.

The report, which surveyed 400 organisations of different sizes and sectors ANZ-wide –including 101 in New Zealand – says the glut is blowing out costs for half of ANZ organisations, and undermining growth opportunities for one in six. The information mismanagement resulted in losing sales or failing to win business (17%) and reputational damage (11%).

Adrian De Luca, Hitachi Data Systems chief technologist, says the report highlights an opportunity for channel partners to take a more proactive role in assessing how much impact the information glut is having on customers, and guiding them towards helpful solutions.

"The first step is information intervention and understanding where the inefficiencies are and the impact and cost for customers – that’s a fundamental way in which the channel can contribute,” he says.

Step two involves evaluating which technologies are best to address the issue.

"With the Kiwi economy as it has been, many organisations have held off refreshing their information assets to save money.”

De Luca says that may be a false economy, as new products offer new efficiencies and innovations.

"It doesn’t mean the customer will have to start again from scratch.”

Technology isn’t the only solution. De Luca says companies also need to look at people and processes, and the channel can also take the lead here in guiding its customers.

"For example, email was never meant to be a filing system, yet many end up using it in the wrong way. Things like that can drag down productivity. Companies need to empower their employees in how to use technology to maximise productivity.

"It’s not just about deploying and implementing, but empowering people to use the technology in the best way.”

Accessing data ‘appropriately’ can improve access to technology by 21%, De Luca says, citing Deloitte figures. Meanwhile, 40% of those surveyed didn’t have a formal strategy for social media use.

"Channel partners should see this as an opportunity to broach the subject with their customers, and it provides many high-value, holistic opportunities for them.

"It’s an opportunity to help your customers understand the issues around productivity, competitiveness and cost concerns. And if you can take a consultative approach into understanding current business imperatives, then you’re better positioned as a valued advisor and that will increase your stickiness to the customer.”

The Great Information Glut report also shows that 49% of organisations reported increased operational expenditure; 38% flagged an inability to recover key files or data; and 22% said they struggled to meet reporting requirements.

And if customers still aren’t convinced, Dr Ric Simes, Deloitte Access Economics director, also sounds a warning.

"Chronic information glut is likely to turn into a far more acute disorder unless companies can find a way to control their data diet,” Simes says.

"Without effective organisation of data, the technology used to make sense of the data is likely to produce just more data, undermining the very relationships with partners and customers it was originally meant to support.”

Heather Wright is editor of The Channel. Go here to subscribe.