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Outdated and inaccessible information within businesses costs the UK economy over £25 billion a year

Outdated and inaccessible information within businesses

Outdated and inaccessible information within some of the UK’s largest businesses is costing the UK economy a staggering £25 billion every year, with many existing learning resources considered “useless”, according to new research.

The landmark global study, carried out by digital learning transformation firm OBRIZUM, surveyed 1,000 enterprise decision makers and 1,000 knowledge workers across the UK and US to understand their approach to corporate training and development as workforce trends continue to evolve.

At the heart of the UK’s productivity issue is the time it takes knowledge workers to locate the right information with which to effectively carry out their jobs. OBRIZUM’s study revealed that, on average, each employee wastes 1.51 hours per day, equating to over 360 hours per year, searching for the information they need.

Taking the average salary of knowledge workers within businesses comprising of at least 50 employees, the average annual cost of just one employee taking time to search for relevant information is £9,931, equivalent to 21.5% of their salary.

Worryingly, once information is located, most knowledge workers (87%) believe it to be out of date or irrelevant, with a quarter (26%) classing it as ‘significantly’ so. Recognising this, knowledge workers are allocating time to reworking this information, and the average annual cost of just one employee reworking or duplicating information that already exists within a business was found to be £1,691.

“The economic cost of poor access to information and knowledge within the UK’s businesses is quite astonishing, but the data confirms what we predicted to be the case”, commented Dr Chibeza Agley, co-founder and CEO of OBRIZUM.

Businesses aware of the outdated and inaccessible information

“Companies recognise the need to keep their workforce up-to-date, relevant and productive, but it has become harder than ever for them to know what skills they need to remain competitive in the market. Corporate training has therefore become an integral part of the HR strategy for large organisations, but ultimately, information within an enterprise is useless if it isn’t kept tailored and relevant, and if workers cannot access it quickly.”

Exacerbating the issue further is that knowledge workers who can’t locate information will turn to colleagues for help, with a quarter (28%) admitting to doing so three to four times per week. More than four in five (84%) estimate it takes up at least 30 minutes of their colleagues’ time each time they ask for help. One employee asking for help from their colleagues to find information costs, on average, £1,668 per year.

Investment in up to date solutions is needed

UK business’ approaches to storing information and knowledge resources were found to be highly archaic and central to the productivity issue. Currently, only a third (31%) of businesses currently index their information and knowledge resources, leaving three quarters of businesses in which information is siloed across multiple places and departments.

This is despite over two thirds (69%) of enterprise decision makers claiming knowledge and information rank as a critical business asset within their organisation.

Of particular note is the disparity between employers and their teams. Despite the difficulties faced by knowledge workers, over half (58%) of employers claim it is ‘easy’ for their staff to find learning resources, with a quarter (25%) claiming it is ‘very easy’, and only 28% believing that it’s ‘difficult’ for staff.

“This disparity reveals a new layer of challenges for organisations, continued Dr Agley. “As well as the constant battle to find the time and finances required to keep corporate learning processes efficient, teams must also re-align perceptions and reality. Without that cohesion, any future efforts towards knowledge and learning will lack the critical underlying foundations.”

Dr Chibeza Agley will explore the limitations of traditional linear digital learning in measuring performance and success, and introduce the many benefits of adaptive digital learning, at the Learning Live Conference on 14thSeptember 2023, in his session: Adaptive learning: How you can measure ROI and the impact of learning programmes’. 

OBRIZUM’s landmark study, Unlocking Information in the Knowledge Economy, is available to read here.



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