Dick Weisinger in Information Overload: The Data Management Challenge cites the following numbers from a data management survey:
- 36 percent of organizations say that email overload is their biggest data management problem
- 28 percent say that document and content management is their biggest issue
- 15 percent cite information access controls
- 13 percent point to compliance issues that they must deal with
- 8 percent say that social media is an area that causes them headaches
Hmmm, not even one percent (1%) said semantic integration was an issue.
Maybe they haven’t heard that semantic integration is all the rage in IT circles? Don’t they read Wired or Scientific American?
I am sure most of them do. Probably the same percentage as you would find at a semantic technology conference.
The difference is they are facing specific problems in an enterprise context. Problems for which they need solutions they can sell to their management as cost effective and doable. By yesterday. The full generality of semantic integration makes nice weekend reading but their management won’t sit long for it on the following Monday.
I am not warranting the following example is feasible or even useful but pose it as a thought experiment.
Assume management agrees email overload is a serious problem and suspects it stems from too many cc’s on posts. There are any number of ways to track such posts but let me outline a topic map solution.
First, create a topic map of the organizational structure, along with approval and informational relationships. This could become more fine grained but for purposes of illustration let’s start with those two relationships. The email addresses for the various actors are included for each person.
Second, since IT runs the SMTP servers that process all the email sent by employees, a copy of every message is stored with associations in the topic map between sender and its recipient(s).
Third, after a month, a graphical map is presented to management showing emails inside/outside of approval/informational paths, along with senders and recipients of those posts.
Fourth, I would suggest discovering what functions are being performed by the targets of large numbers of out of band posts. They maybe informal information hubs who need more formalized roles or greater responsibility. Or the approval/informational structures need revising.
Fifth, for the truly bold, the IT department can filter email to decision makers to allow only a restricted set of staff to reach them by email, thereby reducing their information load from intra- as well as inter-company email. I am sure they will be thankful to not have to setup their own email filters.
You don’t have to use “topic map,” or “semantic integration,” or other such buzz words in selling such a solution. You can insert those as appropriate in the email story at your next semantic integration conference presentation.