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Corporate amnesia – a UK epidemic

Elisa Steele

Without proper collaboration tools and processes, loss of institutional knowledge may become rampant; likely costing companies millions due to productivity loss. Comment from Elisa Steele, CEO of Jive Software.

With the current shift toward more flexible and freelance work environments and a 23 percent global employee turnover rate, businesses are more susceptible than ever to “corporate amnesia. This affects organisations when information, knowledge and content is misplaced or lost due to the departure of employees, data overload and an increasingly distributed workforce. The spread of corporate amnesia was measured by a new Jive Software, Inc. (Nasdaq: JIVE) global survey, which found that 47 percent of “global knowledge workers,” defined as employed adults who use a computer or mobile device for at least some of their work, cite corporate amnesia as a problem at their company. Nearly half of UK knowledge workers (47 percent) say corporate amnesia is a problem at their company, beaten only by Germany (54 percent) and followed by France (44 percent) and the U.S. (42 percent).

“Corporate amnesia becomes a rising problem when organisations fail to put their most valuable asset, their people, at the center of their digital transformation,” said Elisa Steele, CEO of Jive Software. “Without an effective solution to document, categorise, share and access the ever-growing mountain of information being accumulated globally, businesses risk collapsing under the weight. What’s worse, far more organisations are experiencing the detrimental side effects of institutional knowledge loss than is being reported by employees – this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

The global survey, conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Jive Software in December 2016, includes data from global knowledge workers based in the U.K., U.S., France and Germany. A separate survey found that corporate memory loss costs companies an estimated £354,000 per employee on top of ‘the usual recruitment replacement costs.’ In addition, Jive’s key findings include: More Search; Less Work: UK knowledge workers say they spend over a quarter of their average work day (26 percent) searching for corporate information needed to complete work projects. That is slightly below the global average (29 percent), but more than Germany (24 percent).

Email Overload: A third (34 percent)of UK knowledge workers often feel overwhelmed by the number of work emails they receive on a daily basis, which is five percent above the global average. Email Often Primary Search Tool: Almost seven in ten (69 percent) UK knowledge workers use applications provided by their company to search for corporate info, with email-based search being the most used application (42 percent). Corporate Amnesia Becomes an Epidemic: Just under half (47 percent) of UK knowledge workers say corporate amnesia is a problem at their company. By comparison, more than half of German knowledge workers (54 percent) cite corporate amnesia as a problem, more likely than those in France (44 percent) and the U.S. (42 percent).

Investing in a collaboration hub can have a significant impact on an organisation’s ability to store corporate knowledge and improve productivity. In a recent study conducted by professor Paul Leonardi from the University of California, Santa Barbara, researchers found that Jive considerably increased workers’ metaknowledge – the knowledge of “who knows what” and “who knows whom” – within an organisation. After only six months of using Jive, employees’ knowledge of who-knows-what improved 31 percent while the company’s metaknowledge shot up 88 percent. In a separate customer survey, Jive found that its  collaboration hub decreases search time for information by 34 percent. Added Steele, “With the amount of digital data worldwide set to explode to 44 zettabytes (44 trillion gigabytes) by 2020, and half of global employees currently working remotely at least a few times a week, the need for companies to find new and effective ways to capture, organise and disseminate data across entire organisations is more important than ever. By investing in a modernised collaboration hub that makes work searchable, visible and memorable, organisations can preserve corporate memory to help current and future employees reach their full potential.”

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