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In 2010, the online digital data we produce will be 16 million times more than every book ever written. And, the amount of information we receive during this year will be nearly equivalent to 12 stacks of books stretching from the Earth to the Sun.

Much of this information is as a result of the digital age - Internet and software technologies that are supposed to make the management and production of information more effective, not increase our work burden and reduce our productivity.

Cost per employee One of the most detailed surveys undertaken of worker productivity was by done by analyst research firm IDC - which explored common information tasks undertaken in today's business environment. This research included a time breakdown and cost per activity, per employee, to calculate average losses in productivity for a typical enterprise.

Unsurprisingly, email was found to be the number one waste of time in the enterprise with results demonstrating workers spent 14.5 hours each per week reading and answering email.

Second was authoring documents with workers spending roughly 33 percent of their time just writing, creating illustrations and putting together documents. This equals a time cost to employers of nearly $20,000 per worker per year assuming the average knowledge worker makes $60,000 per year.

Gathering information for documents, filing and organizing documents and creating presentations each take around a day a week per worker, costing between $10,000-$12,000 per year, per activity.

In addition to the time cost for the activities associated with authoring documents, a recent survey from Global Graphics found 53 percent of 1000 US workers questioned attributed an average of 100 minutes a week to lost productivity on navigating and trying to use difficult software programs.

Although computing is ubiquitous and consumer technologies are used for our benefit without thought, it seems business software has not yet caught up in terms of ease of use.

Where the problem lies

A better understanding of the tools employees require to do their job for the business and improved software design by developers may help address some of the issues.

Taking the creation of documents as an example, employees have to draw more and more information from ever-increasing sources, in a range of different and evolving formats. Figures in the survey revealed that 56 per cent of office workers said they would find it difficult to take pages of information from a variety of different file formats and combine them into one new document.


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