Gates' Memo: 'Beyond Business Intelligence'
Below is full text of that executive e-mail, titled "Beyond Business Intelligence: Delivering a Comprehensive Approach to Enterprise Information Management."
This week, more than 100 CEOs representing many of the world's leading companies are meeting in Redmond, Washington, to discuss technology trends that promise to reshape the corporate landscape. The occasion is the Microsoft CEO Summit, an annual event that we've been hosting since 1997.
In the decade since that first CEO Summit, technology has transformed the world of business in profound ways. Back then, e-mail was just emerging as a preferred medium for business communication. E-commerce was in its infancy. Most companies still relied on faxes and phone calls to conduct business.
Today, we communicate and collaborate instantly with colleagues, customers and partners around the world. Global supply chains speed the flow of products from factory floor to store shelf. Cell phones are ubiquitous. Mobile access to e-mail is rapidly becoming the norm.
The impact on the workforce is remarkable. Productivity is higher than it's ever been. Buyers can shop the entire world without leaving their desk. Sellers have access to markets that were once beyond reach. The amount of information collected about customers, competitors and markets is unprecedented.
But there are times when it feels like all of these changes have overwhelmed the tools we use to do our day-to-day jobs.
The problem, really, is twofold. The first is information overload. Faced with the endless deluge of data that is generated every second of every day, how can we hope to keep up? And in the struggle to keep up, how can we stay focused on the tasks that are most important and deliver the greatest value?
The other problem is something I call information underload. We're flooded with information, but that doesn't mean we have tools that let us use the information effectively.
Companies pay a high price for information overload and underload. Estimates are that information workers spend as much as 30 percent of their time searching for information, at a cost of $18,000 each year per employee in lost productivity. Meanwhile, the University of California, Berkeley predicts that the volume of digital data we store will nearly double in the next two years.
That makes solving information overload/underload a critical task. Fortunately, a new generation of technology innovations is opening the door to solutions that will make it dramatically easier to find relevant information quickly; to use that information to drive intelligent decision-making; and to instantly share the knowledge that results across the enterprise and beyond. Resolving the information overload and underload problem will take more than just better search tools. What's required is a comprehensive approach to enterprise information management that spans information creation, collection and use and helps ensure that organizations can unlock the full value of their investments in both information and people.
As these solutions enter the mainstream, we will expect dramatic improvements across the key drivers of business success. Software that streamlines how we find, use and share business information will enable us to strengthen relationships with customers, speed innovation, improve operations and create more flexible connections to partners and suppliers.
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To deliver on the promise of this new generation of solutions, Microsoft is focused on creating software that addresses specific businesses priorities:
Productivity: Information fatigue is one inevitable result of information overload. We are working to develop tools that help information workers prioritize their work and focus on the tasks that are truly important. At the same time, we are working to create unified communication solutions that provide a single entry point to all of the tools we use to communicate with coworkers and customers.
Collaboration: New meeting technologies will make distributed meetings simple and cost effective, and provide rich tools that enable team members to work together to create documents and plans. In addition, companies will be able to capture all of the interaction in meetings and preserve institutional knowledge that is often lost today.
Business intelligence: Powerful yet intuitive software that supports advanced visualization and modeling of information will be used every day by information workers to find meaningful patterns in the vast sea of data they collect. This software will also help employees use the insight they gain to trigger processes that enable organizations to respond quickly as business conditions change.
Workflow optimization: Smarter workflow software will eliminate friction points that hamper organizational agility. These tools will automate the movement of approvals, alerts and exceptions. They will also have the intelligence to recognize inefficiencies in existing processes and make improvements.
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