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Intro section 1

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  • 1. SECTION I: THE CIO BEFORE ICT It is a commonplace to state — although this does not mean that it is popularly understood — that information management existed long before the computer; but this usually goes no further, and rarely, if ever, proves to be a starting point for analysis and insight. The following chapters seek to examine the ways in which some key aspects of information management can be better understood if focus is turned to the period before the development of ICT and computer technology. In so doing the core characteristics of information management, the role of the CIO, and the impacts of ICT on organizational processes and sustainability are brought into focus against a wider and more profound historical context. Alistair Black takes a wide view, focusing on the forces and technological back- ground behind the emergence of a specifically labelled ‘information’ function in com- mercial organizations, coupled with the appearance of the role of ‘information officer’. The chapter by Rodney Brunt focuses on the way in which the gathering of ‘intelligence’ in the UK from the early 20th century led, by necessity, to several key developments crucial to information management. Many of these advances were only really implemented on a large scale during the world wars, often based on a for- tuitous combination of exigency and serendipity. Antony Bryant then places these two chapters in a wider context, underlining the importance of developing a historical understanding of the ways in which informa- tion management and associated roles and features appeared in the twentieth century. Taken together this section not only contributes an important historical perspec- tive on information management, but critically it also stresses the ways in which the initial impulse and organizational motivation for the IM function have changed. As Black states in his chapter — ‘[T]he identity of this early breed of information officer differed considerably from that of the late-twentieth century (and beyond) informa- tion officer whose role was very much defined by the management of digital infra- structure in the organization’. In some regards this can be seen as part of what Beniger has termed ‘The Control Revolution’, with authority and influence moving away from users and in favor of managers; but it can also be seen as an alteration in the balance from the demand-side of information in favor of the supply-side. Rec- ognition of this should lead to an enhanced and more equitable concept of the IM function, and equally to the range of skills required by information specialists; thus, also raising the question whether or not these functions and skills should all be focused in one department, and under the aegis of the CIO.

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