Jan 24, 2021 | Updated: 09:43 PM EST

The Age of "Mobile" Infobesity

May 16, 2014 09:27 AM EDT


The Age of "Mobile" Infobesity may very well be a known fact. Infobesity is the impact of being overloaded with information. It is known to affect our decision making and cause other related issues. Thomson Reuters highlights infobesity as the world facings an infobesity epidemic, in which too much information can lead to paralysis, distraction, overconfidence and bad decisions.

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How and why does it affect performance? Bain describes that infobesity is mostly because we human beings can process only so much data. An uncontrollable flood of it overwhelms us, and we feel stressed. Our systems shut down, and our capacity to absorb additional information actually decreases.

Below are Infobesity insights from Bain & Company:

Focus. Companies today generate data that no one needs and put it into reports that no one reads. The business units at one energy company, for instance, used to report performance on some 400 individual line items. Then the company mounted a “focused information sets” initiative, which reduced the number of line items to 30 and lowered reporting costs. Since those 30 covered the vast majority of items that truly add value, the move led to better business decisions while saving everyone’s time. Similarly, a large retailer’s marketing function once reported vast quantities of data relating to each campaign, yet all that information rarely helped executives decide whether the campaign had been a success. Today, every marketing brief identifies the few objectives by which a campaign will be measured and provides only the data that is relevant to those objectives.

Standardization. Is the data you need for decisions in the same format and easily accessible? One large wireless provider had to invest in custom software to reconcile different customer databases resulting from mergers. The investment allowed the company to reduce data-query and preparation time by 90%, leading to much faster decisions. A major gaming company relied in the past on each of its facilities to decide on promotions to customers and then to analyze the results. When it centralized and standardized that function, it discovered that patterns that seemed valid for a single property did not hold up in the aggregate. The standardized information was not only cheaper to provide; it also led to better marketing decisions.

Timing. Companies sometimes think that decision makers need all available information at the beginning of a decision process. That was the case with a pharmaceutical manufacturer, which gathered reams of data about potential markets for a drug under development as soon as the drug began to be tested. Trouble was, many drugs never made it through certain stage gates, so for them, the data-gathering effort was mostly wasted. When the company relocated its information gathering to a later stage in the process, it saved a considerable amount of money and was able to provide decision makers with only the data relevant to a given decision.

Quantity and source. In the current fad for “big data,” companies mine electronic warehouses for insights about customers, transactions and products. Some manufacturers even use big data to help frontline employees make production decisions: If a screw at Raytheon’s new Alabama missile plant is turned 13 times rather than 12, an error message flashes and the production line halts. Big data often provides executives and managers with highly useful information for making key decisions. The UK-based retailer Tesco, for instance, has created a high-level statistical model that predicts customer behavior based on the weather. Managers can then adjust stock levels so the store doesn't run out of window fans during a hot spell.


A LexisNexis survey found that American professionals spend at least half their working day receiving and processing information. Intelligent alerts can substantially reduce that toll, by elevating critical data points. In order to fix these issues, an organization must be able to step back and analyze the entire situation. Identifying the specific information to what the company requires is one of the key points. Data is derived to make critical decisions.

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