Gates' Memo: 'Beyond Business Intelligence'
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Below is full text of that executive e-mail, titled "Beyond Business Intelligence: Delivering a Comprehensive Approach to Enterprise Information Management."
This week, more than 100 CEOs representing many of the world's leading companies are meeting in Redmond, Washington, to discuss technology trends that promise to reshape the corporate landscape. The occasion is the Microsoft CEO Summit, an annual event that we've been hosting since 1997.
In the decade since that first CEO Summit, technology has transformed the world of business in profound ways. Back then, e-mail was just emerging as a preferred medium for business communication. E-commerce was in its infancy. Most companies still relied on faxes and phone calls to conduct business.
Today, we communicate and collaborate instantly with colleagues, customers and partners around the world. Global supply chains speed the flow of products from factory floor to store shelf. Cell phones are ubiquitous. Mobile access to e-mail is rapidly becoming the norm.
The impact on the workforce is remarkable. Productivity is higher than it's ever been. Buyers can shop the entire world without leaving their desk. Sellers have access to markets that were once beyond reach. The amount of information collected about customers, competitors and markets is unprecedented.
But there are times when it feels like all of these changes have overwhelmed the tools we use to do our day-to-day jobs.
The problem, really, is twofold. The first is information overload. Faced with the endless deluge of data that is generated every second of every day, how can we hope to keep up? And in the struggle to keep up, how can we stay focused on the tasks that are most important and deliver the greatest value?
The other problem is something I call information underload. We're flooded with information, but that doesn't mean we have tools that let us use the information effectively.
Companies pay a high price for information overload and underload. Estimates are that information workers spend as much as 30 percent of their time searching for information, at a cost of $18,000 each year per employee in lost productivity. Meanwhile, the University of California, Berkeley predicts that the volume of digital data we store will nearly double in the next two years.
That makes solving information overload/underload a critical task. Fortunately, a new generation of technology innovations is opening the door to solutions that will make it dramatically easier to find relevant information quickly; to use that information to drive intelligent decision-making; and to instantly share the knowledge that results across the enterprise and beyond. Resolving the information overload and underload problem will take more than just better search tools. What's required is a comprehensive approach to enterprise information management that spans information creation, collection and use and helps ensure that organizations can unlock the full value of their investments in both information and people.
As these solutions enter the mainstream, we will expect dramatic improvements across the key drivers of business success. Software that streamlines how we find, use and share business information will enable us to strengthen relationships with customers, speed innovation, improve operations and create more flexible connections to partners and suppliers.
Next Page: The end of information underload/overload.