The quantity and variety of information that we need to manage in business means we waste huge amounts of time looking for information. In fact, it is estimated that knowledge workers spend more than a third of their time searching for information (either successfully or unsuccessfully). Searching for information is one of the great wastes of the knowledge worker and adds no value to our customer or end user. But using mobile technology to better manage or personal information and knowledge can dramatically improve productivity.
We all have places that we ‘go to’ to find information. These ‘go to’ places can include filing cabinets, bookshelves, our office desk, our desk at home, C Drives, shared drives, paper notebooks, previous paper notebook (usually filed in the third draw), other peoples notebooks, scraps of paper, post-it notes, USB sticks and email. We might also just try and remember the important information and keep it in our brain.
This multitude of ‘go to’ places creates a number of problems. Firstly, we don’t have a reliable central index to remember which location the important information is stored in. We use our brains in this capacity but clearly the time we spend looking for information suggests that its not really up to the task. We are also unaware of the information that we have forgotten so although we can unsuccessfully search for something that we know we have, we can’t successfully search for something we don’t remember.
Secondly, given the unreliable index we are working with there is a lot of places to look and although most of them can be found in one physical location it can still take a lot of time to go through them all.
Finally, the benefit of having everything in one physical location is negated by the fact that if we aren’t in the same physical location as our information, we can’t access it. This means that we can’t make informed and effective decisions unless we are in our office which is rarely the best place to be doing our job.
One of the biggest advantages of digital technology is providing ‘go to’ places to store our personal knowledge and information. With better indexing and search these ‘go to’ places allow us to quickly find the important information we need, when we need it, even if we didn’t remember that we had it in the first place. The other big advantage is the amount of information you can have access to. In fact the room full of records from the Guatemalan police archives pictured above wouldn’t even fill a single 64GB iPad.
In working out what your digital ‘go to’ places there are a few things that are worth thinking about. Firstly, in what situation will that information need to be accessed? Information adds value when we find it and use it, so put it somewhere appropriate. Secondly, always choose ‘go to’ places with awesome search functionality, this is how you will find information that you didn’t know you had. Finally, know where your ‘go to’ places are and use them. I can pretty much guarantee that anything outside my four or five ‘go to’ places won’t be found so I religiously put the information that I need to find in the places I will go to find them.