Every day, people are flooded by a deluge of information. It is sometimes difficult to keep up and one can feel downright overwhelmed between e-mails cluttering up your inbox at an alarming rate and being confronted by the rapidly updated blogs and feeds on the various social media sites you subscribe to.
One would think that this glut of data is immeasurable, but experts have estimated that the world now holds twice as many bytes of data as there are litres of water in all of its oceans. To put a more concrete measurement on that, computer manufacturer IBM has released an infographic depicting that 2.7 Zetabytes exist in the digital universe today.

Just on its own, social networking site Facebook stores, accesses and analyses 30+ Petabytes of user generated data. These staggering amounts of data seeing the light every day shows no sign of slowing down either. In the next five years, humankind will create more data than we have generated in the previous 5 000 years.

“Sometimes it can feel as if all those Zetabytes are coming directly at you, all at once, so it can be utterly bewildering,” says Dayle Wheeler, MD of Modern Business and creator of ideas, a platform which follows a unique approach to enterprise social networking (ESN). “And we certainly are being bombarded with information nowadays, even if we just look at our e-mail inboxes.”

According to the digital marketing research firm Radicati Group, corporate users were receiving around 110 e-mail messages a day back in 2010 already. The firm forecasts that the number of worldwide e-mail accounts is expected to increase from an installed base of 3,1-billion in 2011 to almost 4,1-billion by year-end 2015.

And while consumer e-mail accounts make up the majority of the e-mail accounts in the world – representing 75% of all mailboxes – Radicati expects corporate e-mail accounts, which right now amounts to 25%, to increase at a faster pace than consumer e-mail accounts in the next four years.

However, Wheeler points out that this data explosion isn’t all bad and can be used to a company’s advantage.

“Information is power. But too much of it can be so overpowering that it can have the opposite effect: instead of enhancing productivity among your employees, it could actually paralyse them or drive them to distraction. What is needed is an effective filter to drown out all the unnecessary noise and only hone in on the particular information that has relevance and adds value to your enterprise.”

One way of accomplishing this is by adopting an ESN strategy and then implementing a system.

“A good ESN application, such as ideas, will automatically filter the information for its users based on information and topics,” Wheeler explains.

Wheeler says that most traditional social networking platforms aren’t geared for business purposes.

“On those social networking platforms, it is about one person broadcasting whatever information they choose to a number of followers – even if the particular topic being discussed is not of any interest to many of the followers.

“In some instances, those social media platforms have become more like a popularity contest. He or she with the most ‘friends’, ‘followers’, or ‘likes’ wins. A good ESN platform, such as ideas, places all users on an equal footing. The focus is on fostering collaboration, so everything which is shared is relevant to what the company and each of its individual employees strives to achieve.”