Data Superabundance & Pain, part 1

Okay, so I mentioned my morbid fascination with data superabundance. Where superabundance really causes problems is in the way you choose to organize data.  Over the next couple of posts, I’ll explain why.

Cause of Pain #1: Exceptions

More data inevitably leads to more exceptions, and exceptions drive down the overall efficiency of any organizational system.  There are three kinds of exceptions:  a new type of data, a new user, or a new usage.

New type of data:  you now take digital photos at company meetings and events.  Do you file those with the meeting notes or in an area reserved for pictures?  This may seem trivial at first, but whatever choice you make, plenty of folks won’t get why you chose option A instead of B or C.

New type of user:  an example… Company A has an engineering department that makes mechanical widgets.  All of their drawings are stored in a document management system designed for engineers.  They recently had to hire a patent advisor to review all of their designs.  Patent guy (or gal) now has to learn the document management system before they can even begin to do their job.

New type of usage: Inevitably, a use will arise for your data that you didn’t think of when you authored it.  Accounting would like the numbers from your project tracking spreadsheet…  Product Management would like to see your sales records to analyze which sales failed and determine what features to add to be competitive…  But any new usage usually requires your data to be cleaned up and reformatted.  And that wastes time.

Regardless of whether we’re talking about files and folders on a network, or a full-on fancy document management system, increased data means an increased number of exceptions.  And every exception drives a decrease in the efficiency of data retrieval as a whole.