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Email overused as admin tool, says Adobe

Claims firms waste £8.8 billion on unnecessary admin

By Anh Nguyen, Computerworld UK
April 23, 2010 07:35 PM ET

Computerworld UK - Businesses rely too much on email as an administration tool, a new study has revealed.

The study, commissioned by Adobe and carried out online by YouGov, polled 1,151 office workers, working in public and private sector organisations with upwards of 50 employees.

It found that 30 percent of respondents claim to spend more than five hours a month, or 7.1 days a year, on 'unnecessary administration work'. Based on 10 million UK office workers with an average office worker salary of £32,465, as quoted by the Office of National Statistics, Adobe said that this equates to £8.8 billion of costs to UK businesses.

The research highlights how outdated processes, unnecessary duplication of effort, internal politics and information gathered 'for the sake of it', are all contributing to inefficiencies in the workplace.

Adobe said that there was a clear link between data collection and management methods and the levels of unnecessary administration. A total 72 percent of respondents cited email as the primary administration mechanism within their company, while just 17 percent used electronic forms and 11 percent continued to use paper.

However, David Gingell, Adobe's senior director of marketing, EMEA, said: "Businesses are over-relying on email as an administration tool. There are more efficient ways of collating data. [For example] electronic forms can simplify the collection and automate sharing of data in the back office, and for many organisations, electronic forms is a fairly straightforward business case in terms of return on investment."

As well as implementing electronic forms, Adobe recommended organisations improve their administration efficiency by investing in technologies such as online collaboration tools and Rich Internet Applications to create more user-friendly interfaces for existing administration processes.

The survey showed that the majority (66 percent) of respondents blamed internal politics for some administrative inefficiencies, while 43 percent believed that their organisation collected information "for the sake of it". A third also claimed they were submitting the same information to multiple departments. Adobe said this implies that departments may not be sharing information effectively, possibly due to internal disagreements, a statement supported by 59 percent of respondents.

Meanwhile, although 47 percent believed that their organisation was slow to adopt new and more efficient ways of doing things, just 31 percent of respondents were positive about their organisation's innovativeness.

Gingell said: "As a business community, we need to encourage the use of technologies and tools such as interactive forms and other web 2.0 applications that are specifically designed to gather, share and manage information. By doing this we can begin to address the levels of frustration highlighted in this report."

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