Gartner Says 90 Percent of Businesses Suffer from Information Overload

Personal networks are proving most effective against the "infoflood"

Egham, UK 3 May 2002 - According to a recent survey conducted by Gartner, 90 percent of companies believe they suffer from information overload and that their competitiveness is negatively impacted as a result.

Over the last few years, Internet, Intranet and similar developments have brought an unmanageable amount of information to the average employee. Gartner estimates that companies will invest more than $30 billion on Information Management systems, including collaboration, business intelligence and document management, in 2002.

Survey respondents ranked informal information sources, such as personal networks (e.g. friends and close colleagues) and e-mails more beneficial to their business decision making than information available on company Intranets and the Internet. In addition, they reported that their companies most poorly supported these more informal knowledge resources.

According to Alexander Linden, Research Director at Gartner, "As computer technologies cannot understand human information needs, they are consequently only of limited help in filtering the flood of information available. However, it is easier for companies to implement technology rather than changing the principles and culture in a company to foster information flow.

While Gartner recognises a number of different approaches solving the information overload problem, it said one of its key recommendations to businesses is to put more focus on social interactions. This can be supported by physical arrangements such as off-sites, cafeterias and lounges, in addition to technology based solutions such as indexing, advanced search engines, expert location networks and electronic bulletin boards.

According to Linden, "It is obvious that companies who fail to address information overload will be penalised by lower productivity and the risk of making poor business decisions, however, just implementing technology will not do the problem justice. Companies will gain more value from their investment, if they motivate and facilitate the use of available KM resources as well as hiring the appropriate competence for linking knowledge resources, for example librarians".

The study, which surveyed over 300 participants attending Gartner's events worldwide, found that the public sector reported the lowest information management capabilities, while the consulting sector reported the best. It also found that 75 percent of consulting companies consider their company to have implemented successful KM programs in contrast to the less than 5 percent of government organisations.

In contrast, the survey revealed that the perception of information overload was 20 percent higher among KM enabled enterprises, although they experienced fewer problems around organisation of and access to information.

Gartner said this is because as companies take a structured approach to KM, they actually put the spotlight on how much information exists. According to Linden, "this is not necessarily bad news, as until information organisation and access is facilitated, the extend of the overload problem cannot be fully addressed. The ultimate objective is not to decrease the perceived information overload, but to equip decision makers with the best information available."

For further information and to speak to analyst Alexander Linden please contact:
Laurence Goasduff on +44 1784 267 195,


About Gartner, Inc.

Gartner, Inc. is a research and advisory firm that helps more than 11,000 clients understand technology and drive business growth. Gartner's divisions consist of Gartner Research, Gartner Consulting, Gartner Measurement and Gartner Events. Founded in 1979, Gartner, Inc. is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut and consists of 4,300associates, including 1,200 research analysts and consultants, in more than 90 locations worldwide. The company achieved fiscal 2001 revenues of $952 million. For more information, visit