Information Inflation – Dealing with the declining value of information
Information inflation is one of the five trends identified by the Communications Trend Radar 2024. It is about the diminishing value of information due to the ever-increasing surge in the volume and accessibility of data and content.
Two factors are driving this societal trend: Falling production costs for content, for example through generative AI, and technological advances in data retrieval, storage, and processing. This is leading to increased efforts to provide, collect, and use relevant information in communication processes.
The rapid growth of data, content, and information
There is a huge amount of content being generated in the digital world. The advent of artificial intelligence (AI) is dramatically reducing the effort required to create and customize content. As a result, anyone can now create and distribute content in real time, often at minimal cost. This exponential increase in the volume and accessibility of data and content requires greater effort to identify relevant information.
The increased effort is due not only to the sheer volume, but also to the nature of the information itself – particularly information that is redundant, irrelevant, labor-intensive, and inconsistent. The critical consequences are impaired decision making, but also stress and burnout. It can lead to disengagement, reduced productivity, and a lower intent to stay with an organization.
Information inflation refers to the decreasing value of general information and the rising costs for generating, identifying, and using relevant information due to the ever-increasing availability of content in modern societies.
Relevance of information inflation for corporate communications
- Avoidance of information: Stakeholders may unintentionally or intentionally ignore content (e.g., employees or consumers overwhelmed by numerous email mailshots may not read or delete them immediately).
- Fragmented media landscapes and public spheres: Digitalization has transformed the processing of data and content, and the formation of opinions. Despite greater technical accessibility, penetrating the digital noise has become increasingly challenging.
- Content differentiation: The pressure to create unique and engaging content has intensified. Standing out in a crowded digital landscape, particularly concerning issues like social causes or initiatives, is a formidable challenge.
- Corporate listening and monitoring: Identifying relevant information, such as trustworthy data and genuine opinions of stakeholders, is becoming increasingly complex.
Recommendations for communication leaders and professionals
Dr Jan Dietrich Müller, Swiss Re
» Our goal is for stakeholders to attribute value to the perspectives provided by Swiss Re, as this will make them listen. Value is not easy to achieve. It results from offering actionable insights by high-caliber experts based on data-rich analysis, presented in a manner relevant to our audience. Targeting stakeholders effectively requires a deep understanding of their attitudes toward content and their media usage patterns. And companies must invest in this understanding.«
While some aspects may already be part of the communication routine and strategy, there are five core elements to (re)focus on when adapting to these changing circumstances:
- Prioritize relevance-driven content: Keep messages simple and, above all, meaningful and relevant to the audience.
- Reduce the information burden for recipients: It is important to establish clear expectations for appropriate information flows for key stakeholders. Moreover, the number and density of communication channels should be evaluated.
- Establish strategy-focused corporate listening and monitoring: Define exactly what you need for planning communication activities and advising top management based on your company’s unique positioning and your team’s mandate.
- Nurture personal relationships with key stakeholders: Foster and maintain personal relationships to ensure ongoing engagement and valuable feedback.
- Harness the potential of CommTech: AI applications can be particularly useful in navigating the complex information landscape, pre-filtering content, and hyperpersonalizing messages at scale.
About the study
For the fourth year running, a research team from the University of Potsdam (Prof. Dr. Stefan Stieglitz and Sünje Clausen, MSc) and Leipzig University (Prof. Dr. Ansgar Zerfaß and Dr Michelle Wloka) conducted an applied research project to identify trends likely to influence communication practices in the near future. They analyzed hundreds of scientific articles, conference contributions, reports and online publications. These were systematically collected, weighted according to their importance for corporate communication and condensed into five trends. The Communications Trend Radar is funded by the Academic Society for Management & Communication.