We live in a world where information is available at the click of a button. In fact, thanks to voice recognition technology, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, you don’t even have to move your finger to get an answer to a pressing question or solution to a problem – it’s just there.
Cool? Yes. Overwhelming? Definitely.
Every single day, 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created. To put that into perspective, 90 percent of the data in the world was created within the last two years. This data is sourced from sensors, social media sites, purchase transaction records, digital videos and pictures, cell phone communications, and more.
Every single day, companies come out with new tools, software, and programs designed to solve pain points that other businesses face. And while many of them work, the problem is that more data is created with each and every piece of technology.
Even worse, most of these tools don’t communicate with one another. So, instead of improving the data problem, things are only getting more confusing and fragmented.
The Problem of Digital Fragmentation
If you work in a modern business – especially a large enterprise – then you understand the frustration that comes with the fragmentation of people, information, and systems.
You’ve got information coming at you in the form of software-specific native messenger platforms, email, phone, SMS, and mobile apps. You’re interacting with some co-workers who are physically in your office and others who are working remotely halfway around the world. Sometimes you have to jump between three or four different systems just to complete a single process. It’s frustrating!
As Jive explains, “The pain is being felt everywhere: By HR execs trying to instill a feeling of togetherness in employees who are never physically together. By corporate communications professionals trying to get the undivided attention of dispersed, distracted workforces. By IT leaders struggling to cobble together an efficient employee collaboration experience from a messy patchwork of separate tools. By everyone who’s experienced the frustrations of disjointed processes, misaligned teams and non-integrated systems.”
The irony here is that all of these different systems have been put in place for the purpose of simplifying and streamlining. And while many of them do simplify and streamline on an individual basis, the problem is that, collectively, they lead to confusion, stress, and frustration.
According to a study from McKinsey Global Institute, 19 percent of a worker’s week is spent searching for and gathering information. This means that the average 9-to-5 employee spends 7.6 hours per week looking for emails, files, and documents.
Another study, this one conducted by Wrike, reveals that the number one source of stress in the workplace is missing information. Just over half of all individuals surveyed say the inability to find information – or even having to wait for information they need – results in major stress.
Clearly there’s a problem – and something needs to be done to solve it before things get out of hand even more than they already are.
How Do We Fix the Problem?
The challenge we currently face is unique in the sense that it’s impossible to revert back to simpler times and strip away all of these tools businesses are using. The tools, on an individual basis, are valuable. It’s the fact that there are so many different tools – and that they don’t communicate with one another – that’s the problem.
The solution has to start with the companies developing these tools and technologies. Collaboration, integration, and consistency have to be priorities. Tools can’t be designed in silos and then pushed on companies. Things like open source software and compatibility have to become more mainstream. It’s the only way to solve what’s becoming a bigger issue by the day.
“I’ve pointed this out in the past, the we have an urgent problem with our collaboration tools not talking to each other. I’d say it’s now a critical issue that threatens the very high-value, human-centric activity that we are supposed to be enabling: Better collaboration,” digital business expert Dion Hinchcliffe points out.
“In addition to the typical common issues, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that users have moved away from a collaboration tool because they can’t easy work with customers, or business partners, who are usually outside the company and don’t have access to the same tools or environment.”
But the onus also falls on individual companies. As Insightly notes, “A business is only as strong as the team behind it, and when a team is running themselves ragged focusing on minute details of operation, they can’t focus on the big picture.”
Businesses have to stop blindly patching holes and pain points with tools they know little about. Instead, they need to become more particular about the tools they adopt and how they fit into the larger technological “ecosystem” that’s already been established with the adoption of other tools and programs.
APIs are an organization’s best friends. If a business is going to adopt a new technology, they need to be sure that it has the ability to collaborate with the tools that they’re already using on a daily basis. Otherwise, there’s no point in using it. The time it saves on one area will be lost in confusion and fragmentation in another.
Stop Digital Fragmentation
It’s impossible to make a crowded room silent if only one person stops talking. In order for silence to overcome the noise, each individual has to stop talking. The same is true in our current business climate. In order for digital fragmentation to stop, every business, employee, and technology developer must band together and make the conscious decision to rise above the noise and find a solution.
This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.
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