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Drowning in Data? Here’s How to Get Control

In this era of big data, companies are literally drowning in stuff – but it’s not just the databases and data lakes that are overstuffed. Employees – the people who are supposed to use that plethora of data to make the organization money – are overstuffed with data, as well. Files, documents, email messages – all of them contain essential information employees need to undertake projects, produce reports, communicate with clients, and more.

In order to get work done quickly and efficiently, employees need to be able to get the data they need for reports, communications, meetings, and presentations. How accessible is that data? Can employees find it when they need it?

The answer to that question depends on how data is organized – and often that is not in the control of employees. The wide variety of applications and platforms needed to put together a project today can be overwhelming, but employees have no choice. The data comes in from a variety of sources in a variety of formats, and employees often have to conduct time-consuming searches to find what they need.

To do their work and access all that data, employees need to have access to all those files and all those tools. That means open windows – dozens of them – on their computer screens, whether for drives,  folders, databases, documents, communication programs, and so on. That by itself can be a time-waster for companies. According to research from RingCentral, employees are losing 32 work days a year just switching between windows. It’s almost as if inefficiency was built into the process.

Let’s take a typical project that a team may be working on for a client – likely to include a boatload of email messages, site links, images, drawings, PDFs, Word documents, Powerpoint presentations, and more. All those items will be in play at all times, and need to be accessible for the entire creation process. And many of those files will arrive via employees’ inboxes. If the project entails work by the entire team, everyone will need access to all the files and data sources. Enter Slack, WhatsApp, Dropbox, and other communication programs that enable collaboration and file-sharing. Whose got the latest version with the newest changes?.

There’s nothing to be done about the plethora of data sources, but there are still ways to improve efficiency and get back some of those 32 days. Better organization of the data is the answer, and artificial intelligence is one way to accomplish that.

Employees and team members need an easy and quick way to locate the data – the files, presentations, email messages, etc. – relevant to their project, without having to search through piles of data or switch through dozens of windows. A machine learning AI-based solution would review all content and data, whether in databases, drives, email accounts, or any other source data may be stored.

Using keywords, client names, locations, delivery dates, or any other relevant criteria, the system would be able to determine the location of each relevant data source. The solution would bring together links to all the relevant data in a single panel, where employees will be able to quickly and easily access it – thus obviating the need to search for data, or switch between many windows to access it. To get to the data they need, all they would have to do is go back to the panel where everything they need is centrally listed.

As new data, files, and messages come in, the system would continue to supervise and sort out all new information. And because of its machine-learning capabilities, the system would be able to more thoroughly refine the data it reads, and more accurately narrow down exactly what is relevant to the project.

Employees may not always show it, but they are hurting. No one wants to waste time slogging through information; people want to be productive, to get their work done and go home with peace of mind. Companies can help employees achieve that peace of mind – and get them to be more productive as well – if they utilize the right solutions.

About the Author

As co-founder of harmon.ie Yaacov Cohen is a driving force for humanizing technology. By emphasizing a devotion to core values to enable a productive work environment, Yaacov believes technology should work for people, rather than the other way around. Yaacov routinely works with executives and IT specialists to enable value-based collaboration initiatives within their organizations. Yaacov is a popular speaker at industry events; he has been featured in the business press, including the Wall Street Journal and Forbes.  Yaacov is a regular contributor to the Huffington Post.

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