Increasing number of Singaporeans experiencing Information Overload

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio

Research from OpenText reveals the extent to which the effects of information overload are impacting Singaporeans and how this has changed during the COVID 19 pandemic.

The survey findings offer market insights, trend data, and predictions for what lies ahead as organizations take steps to combat the effects of information overload.

The key lies in being able to to successfully transform how information is accessed, managed and leveraged throughout the organization, so they can achieve an information advantage. This advantage sets organizations apart in their markets and can act as a catalyst for growth.

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Survey highlights

An overwhelming majority of Singaporeans (87%), now feel that information overload – driven by factors including overload across devices (43%), too many passwords to remember (37%) or too many apps to check each day (46%) – has contributed to their daily stress. This compares with the 51% who indicated in a similar OpenText survey conducted in March 2020 that information overload contributed to their daily stress.

As our work lives continue to spill into our personal lives with hybrid working, surprisingly even in 2022, less than half of Singaporean employees (46%) feel they are equipped with the right digital tools to work at home. Even more surprising is that this has dropped from 74% at the onset of the pandemic.

An endless supply of information everywhere

A third of Singaporean respondents (32%) say they have to use eleven or more accounts, resources, tools and apps on a daily basis. This compares with just 16% who said this was the case two years ago, proving that the information people need to access resides within an increasing number of data repositories and applications.

In fact, due to the siloed nature of where information sits within organisations, almost half of Singaporean employees (47%) say that they normally spend, on average, one or more hours per day searching on company networks or shared systems for specific work files or pieces of information just to do their job.

“For businesses and their employees, the proposition of trying to manage the volume and complexity of information –structured and unstructured data that is pervasive and growing exponentially – can be a daunting one. What we’ve come to realize is that information on its own is not the answer,” said Sandy Ono, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer at OpenText.

“The answer comes when you break down siloes and centralize information. When you continuously manage and bring all your information together, it is transformed. Patterns and trends emerge, insights are gleaned, and better decisions are made. That is the information advantage.”

Not just a matter of what and where

Information scattered across multiple locations is another reason for the difficulties they face, with a half (50%) reporting it’s hampering their ability to find the information they need to do their job. One third (32%) feel that their colleagues not saving the latest version of documents to shared systems also hampered their ability to do their job, while two in five (42%) feel that not knowing where to find the most up-to-date information also contributes.

Unfortunately, poor information management and these kinds of sustained challenges are having negative effect on employees. So much so that nearly half (49%) feel that it is having an impact on their mental well-being and stress levels. In addition, at least 50% indicate it is having a detrimental effect on their performance at work, 41% feel it is negatively impacting their overall job satisfaction and more than half (51%) say that it is having a direct impact on their work-life balance.

This time, it’s personal

The lack of effective information management tools in many businesses is now starting to have an impact on what steps employees feel they need to take themselves. Whether they are told they can use them or not, more than two thirds of Singaporean employees (68%) currently use personal file sharing systems (such as OneDrive, Google Drive, WhatsApp or Dropbox) for work related file sharing as a way to make things easier for them.

More interestingly still, three quarters of those (74%) do it as they believe their company does not have a policy against it, despite the associated, elevated security risks.

The global picture is in line with these findings with 63% of employees across the globe indicating they use personal file sharing systems to share work files and almost half of them (71%) doing so as they believe there is no organisational policy against it.

Unfortunately, the issues do not end there. Hybrid workers in Singapore feel that they face a broad range of other challenges with close to half (46%) saying that they cannot collaborate or share files with colleagues as easily when they are working from home, and 44% indicating they cannot access corporate file systems and content as easily when working remotely.

Meanwhile a quarter (25%) are struggling to carry between the office and their home the technology and tools they need daily just to do their job as close to four in five (39%) do not have the same set up at home and in the office.

Discussing the findings, Randy Goh, Regional Vice President, Asia at OpenText said, “As data from office workers, suppliers and customers continues to boom across every organisation, and as the number of systems and applications they use continues to rise, so too do the risks.

“Right now, there is an urgent need for businesses to automate information management and governance, so that content can be captured and classified, so that retention policies can be applied automatically and so that employees can easily access accurate, up-to-date information without having to trawl multiple applications.

“Only by taking these steps can organisations succeed in reducing complexity and enable employees to easily collaborate with their colleagues no matter what device or application they use or where and how they choose to work.”