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Overload!: How Too Much Information is Hazardous to Your Organization by Jonathan B. Spira

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CHAPTER 7

THE COST OF INFORMATION OVERLOAD

We’re drowning in information and starving for knowledge.

—Rutherford D. Rogers

The dirty little secret of Information Overload is that it has become a significant problem for companies of all sizes. The problem is that they simply don’t know it.

Even smaller companies lose tens of millions of dollars each year in lowered productivity and hampered innovation, while the world’s largest corporations each face an exposure of a billion dollars or more. In 2010, Basex estimated that the total cost of Information Overload to the U.S. economy was $997 billion.

My colleagues and I arrived at this figure by determining the total number of knowledge workers, based on recent data derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). We found that the number of knowledge workers working full time, or 2,000 hours a year, was 78.6 million.

As the BLS does not maintain a separate category for knowledge workers, we had to create our own classifications to group the 711 occupations that the BLS recognizes to determine who the knowledge workers were and what characteristics they displayed. We came up with four groups based on the number of skills required and the level of independent thought and action needed.

The top level of worker we found to be Highly-Skilled Knowledge Workers, those who posses multiple skills with a high level of independent thought and action. Examples of Highly-Skilled Knowledge Workers include those in management roles, teachers, ...

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