Hidden Costs of Information Work in the Enterprise Exposed in New IDC Progress Report
FRAMINGHAM, Mass. – May 6, 2009 – How do information workers spend their time, and what does this cost the enterprise? A recent IDC study confirms that email is by far the most time-consuming activity for information workers followed by searching for information. Activities that require working with others, including communicating and collaborating, or managing projects, come next followed by creating and publishing information. The costs for these activities are staggering, and this progress report shows that the number of hours spent has not improved much since IDC first started collecting this data in 2001.
"In an economy that is now more information based than industrial, and where companies are being forced to downsize due to the financial crisis, increasing the productivity of the information worker has become imperative," said Susan Feldman, vice president, Search and Discovery Technologies at IDC. "It has become obvious that tasks related to creating, organizing, finding, and analyzing information have become significant time sinks and IDC's research demonstrates that investment in better information access, management, and collaboration tools and processes pays for itself, often in a matter of months. When knowledge work is automated, not only are enterprises more efficient but their relationships with customers, partners, and suppliers are improved immeasurably."
Additional key findings of this study include:
* With Web 2.0 applications creeping into the enterprise, information workers will find tools to help them accomplish their work no matter where those tools come from. IDC's research on the use and preferences for information worker productivity tools shows that newer tools, particularly instant messaging, but also social networking and blogs, were preferred over more traditional ones like email or team workspaces.
* Email consumes an average of 13 hours per week per information worker and is often intimately intertwined with document workflow, sales, scheduling, and other business processes. Assuming that the average knowledge worker makes $75,000 a year, the time spent on reading and answering email costs a company $20,990 per worker per year.
The IDC study, Hidden Costs of Information Work: A Progress Report (IDC #217936), surveyed more than 700 knowledge workers who were asked about the tasks that they perform regularly and the software they use in the process. This research examines how long they spend at various information tasks and what repetitive tasks they perform that might be prime targets for automation or improvement. IDC analyzed the data that was gathered on the average number of hours spent on each task and then, based on an average information worker salary of $75,000 per year, calculated how much the annual cost would be per worker to an organization. IDC considers these to be conservative estimates.
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