There is something ironic about CIOs' long and continuing struggle for greater recognition and respect as a member of the C team. After all, executives today are at the mercy of information: utterly dependent on data to run their companies, yet inundated by more of it than they can productively manage without technology. IT chiefs, then, should be the ones holding all the cards.
Jeff Stibel, brain scientist and entrepreneur, asked a provocative question on the blog he wrote for Harvard Business Online, "Could it be that knowledge is overrated?" As the author of Wired for Thought: How the brain is shaping the future of the Internet and Chairman of BrainGate, a brain-implant company that allows people to use their thoughts to control electrical impulses, he has spent considerable time pondering questions about the brain, knowledge and information.
As we all know, there's a lot of information out there-from magazines to blogs, there is more content than anyone could possibly consume in a lifetime. I don't even have time to read Page Six anymore, which says a lot. Sure, a maddening percentage of it is either garbage or recycled garbage. The problem is that a lot of it is stuff you could use. The biggest worry is of missing something useful that you didn't realize you needed to know.
Do you suffer from TMI in your life? Most people would agree that the burden of dealing with too much information is oppressive. For many the amount of e-mail they receive is simply out of control. In a recent article in the Harvard Business Review ("Death by Information Overload"), author Paul Hemp notes that a survey of 2,300 Intel employees showed that employees spent about two hours a day processing e-mail and those surveyed believed that nearly 1/3 of the messages they received were unnecessary. Then there’s the wasted time wondering why your e-mail wasn’t responded to. “Did the person get it?” “Did I say something that ticked them off?” “Should I follow-up with another e-mail or even a phone call?”