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The Road Ahead:                                                                         Discussion Paper
Strategy Proposal...
The Road Ahead:                                                                Discussion Paper
Strategy Proposal for Info...
The Road Ahead:                                                                             Discussion Paper
Strategy Prop...
The Road Ahead:                                                                        Discussion Paper
Strategy Proposal ...
The Road Ahead:                                                                              Discussion Paper
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The Road Ahead:                                                                                 Discussion Paper
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The Road Ahead:                                                                                  Discussion Paper
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The Road Ahead:                                                                    Discussion Paper
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The Road Ahead Strategy Proposal For Information Professionals

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The Road Ahead Strategy Proposal For Information Professionals

  1. 1. The Road Ahead: Discussion Paper Strategy Proposal for Information Professionals January 2009 online consultants international © www.istockphoto.com/ClintSprencer The Road Ahead Proposal regarding a Strategic Direction for Information Professionals in the 21st Century Discussion Paper January 2009 Author: Michael Fanning Managing Director t +49-(0)721-92 12-909 Online Consultants International GmbH f +49-(0)721-92 12-913 Unterreut 6 e michael.fanning@oci-gmbh.com D-76135 Karlsruhe w http://www.oci-gmbh.com Copyright notice: This publication is available Version 1.1 under a Creative Commons 31st January 2009 Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 Germany licence. © 2009 Online Consultants International GmbH. Page 1 of 12 Some rights reserved.
  2. 2. The Road Ahead: Discussion Paper Strategy Proposal for Information Professionals January 2009 PREFACE “To be successful, organisations need to take a different approach; one that considers information as a critical business asset, not an afterthought.” The Information Opportunity Report Harnessing information to enhance business performance Cap Gemini 2008 At the recent Online Information 2008 exhibition in London, Natalie Ceeney, CEO of the National Archives in the United Kingdom, gave the Keynote Speech in a session targeted at information professionals and entitled “Do we have a profession?”. She began her talk by asking the audience how they described themselves to third parties. Whether, for instance they refer to themselves as information professionals, or as knowledge managers, or even as information and knowledge management specialists, or know-how managers, or librarians, or documentalists, or researchers. Upon receiving a mixed but not decisive show of hands for each of these categories, she challenged the audience with the observation as to why do people whose job it is to work with information in all its various forms and manifestations, find it so difficult to represent themselves as a single profession. After all, were a similar question to be posed to a group of people working in the information technology sector, it would be unusual for them to insist upon being referred to as web developers, database specialists, programmers and systems engineers, i.e. by their “sub- title”. Amongst themselves and, more pointedly, for the purpose of interacting with other professional groups, they are very comfortable to look upon and refer to themselves using their main and collective title, namely “IT people”. © 2009 Online Consultants International GmbH. Page 2 of 12 Some rights reserved.
  3. 3. The Road Ahead: Discussion Paper Strategy Proposal for Information Professionals January 2009 INTRODUCTION According to key political leaders, “this is the century of information”1. In a similar vein, reports are beginning to emerge that describe the “Power of Information”2. In business circles it has long been recognised that information driven companies are emerging as some of the strongest and most productive industry sectors. One of the most prominent examples is of course Google. In less than 10 years, the company has reached a market capitalisation of $145 billion, which comfortably exceeds the combined market value of the US automobile industry ($89 billion). It is both fitting and helpful, however, to look upon information as a “power” or as a “force”. The recent data protection scandals in Germany serve as a reminder that information can damage businesses both in terms of their standing and their profit margins as much as it can help them prosper. With this in mind, industry leaders are realising that poor information management is costly and detrimental to their business, while good information management provides the company with efficiency gains, good standing and a competitive edge. A recent report by Cap Gemini entitled The Information Opportunity Report: Harnessing information to enhance business performance found that a “broken information culture” is widespread within businesses and is believed to suppress performance by 29%3. In the United Kingdom, this equates to an annual €50 billion of missed opportunity for private sector profits. Leaders in both the public and private sectors are now acting upon the premise that information and knowledge management has to be moved from being regarded as something of a back-office role to become a key corporate function playing a critical and decisive role in strategic planning, business development, compliance and risk management. THE INFORMATION PROFSSIONAL’S DILEMMA The Cap Gemini report is a recent addition to a growing awareness that while all organisations use information and process knowledge, few do so efficiently and effectively. Fewer still manage information in a proactive way that delivers verifiable productive returns measured by indicators such as increased revenues, number of employees, increase in market share, return on investment etc. The explosion in the number of information resources available to a company’s employees together with the - now virtually assumed and self-understood - availability of powerful research tools, such as search engines, means that most employees have on their desks 1 th See Gordon Brown’s Liberty Speech from 25 October 2007 available onhttp://www.number10.gov.uk/Page13630. 2 See http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/newsroom/news_releases/2007/070405_power.aspx 3 See http://www.uk.capgemini.com/for_you_to_use/thought_leadership/the_information_opportunity_report_2008/ © 2009 Online Consultants International GmbH. Page 3 of 12 Some rights reserved.
  4. 4. The Road Ahead: Discussion Paper Strategy Proposal for Information Professionals January 2009 resources that hardly 15 years ago would have been the sole responsibility of a dedicated information department and its specialist staff. Information specialists have struggled to keep apace with these developments and as a result are constantly under pressure to justify their contribution and value to the overall business. That their own understanding of who they are and what they do has been severely challenged by the onslaught of the information society and knowledge economy is reflected in the lack of definition of their own professional image which in German is rendered by the term “Berufsbild”. In fact, the changing role of libraries and, perhaps more importantly, the changing attitudes within organisations to information services is having an impact upon information professionals the consequence of which is to further the fragmentation of what it is that they do. This was described well by one group of information professionals from the banking and financial sector in Germany, the IK-Ring (see below), “The profession of the information professional is extremely diverse and as a result it is difficult to define it in concrete terms. Information professionals have so many different job titles such as documentalist, information broker, information manager or even knowledge manager. Typical work for an information professional in a financial institution would be to search for information on business and economy related issues in electronic databases and the Internet. The process would usually be initiated by another employee of the bank who would contact the information specialist department and ask them to find information for him or his department.”4 While this is an honest and frank portrayal of the work of an information professional in a bank or financial institution, its approach is still somewhat traditional. The description sees the information professional as something of a reactive information broker. As someone who flits about to gather information for a specific need where the need is specifically identified and acted upon by a third party. The statement makes no reference to the role of the information professional in the organisation, to their competencies or to the skill set required – managerial and leadership as well as an ability to process information – to proactively promote information services within a bank. The perception by information professionals of themselves as reactive information brokers coupled with the plethora of job titles used to describe their position in organisations has had the consequence that, in Germany at least, there is no consistent or meaningful “Berufsbild” or professional image for information professionals. 4 From the IK-Ring website. Seehttp://www.ik-info.de/content/view/57/25/lang,de/ © 2009 Online Consultants International GmbH. Page 4 of 12 Some rights reserved.
  5. 5. The Road Ahead: Discussion Paper Strategy Proposal for Information Professionals January 2009 To illustrate the point about job titles, the diagram below displays a myriad job titles selected from amongst German companies and taken from the Online Consultants International GmbH client database over the period 2007 to 2008. Bibliothekarin Information Research Librarian Bibliothek und Recherche Bibliothekarin/Informationsmanagerin Research Associate Information Specialist Information Leiterin Infocenter Professionals Marketing Communication in Germany Head of Research OnlineManagement Inhouse Consulting Knowledge Services Library Manager Information Officer Manager Knowledge and Learning Figure 1: Job titles of information professionals in Germany All the above job titles have been taken from German businesses. There is a noticeable and extensive use of English titles, terms and descriptions. This is driven partly by the need to find a uniform job description in international, globally active organisations. It is however also driven by the fact that the German information community has struggled to establish original terms of its own. Nevertheless, what binds those people that can be described as information professionals is that they have a high degree of information competence. They have had training or have developed specialist skills in the organisation of information, in finding it and being able to apply it to solving problems and are able to help others to do so. In other words, while the job title may vary, information professionals can be identified by their competences i.e. they can be identified on the basis that they are in an information hungry organisation and have, as part of their formal job description, information organisation, acquisition, processing and dissemination. © 2009 Online Consultants International GmbH. Page 5 of 12 Some rights reserved.
  6. 6. The Road Ahead: Discussion Paper Strategy Proposal for Information Professionals January 2009 ROLE OF THE INFORMATION PROFESSIONAL: A PROPOSAL Emphasising the flexibility and scalability in the very idea of “competence”, a proposal regarding the role of information professionals in the 21st century is set out below. It is proposed that information professionals strive to establish information competence as a key management responsibility in companies of all sizes in Germany. Furthermore, that they position themselves professionally so as to be the initiators, evangelists and facilitators of the practical implementation of information competence in the organisation. The practical implementation of information competence in the organisation should be carried out for collective benefit, i.e. of the company as a whole as well as for individual benefit, i.e. of individual members of staff, regardless of their position within the organisation. The proposal is based on the following assumptions:  information is playing an ever increasing role in day-to-day business operations and as a consequence, companies of all sizes need to raise their collective level of competence in the use, re-use and daily interaction with information;  competence in the daily interaction with information within companies needs to be addressed at the most senior levels of management and that where the overall responsibility for the effective use of information is established as a management responsibility, information competence within the company will be associated with productivity;  the importance of information competence is emphasised as both an individual asset as well as a corporate asset.; indeed, because information competence is a key skill for people and organisations alike, its active cultivation will provide a solid foundation upon which to build corporate productivity;  information competence is an essential competence for business success in that it provides a common area of concentration for the diverse pools of experience within a company, for apparently conflicting interests as well as for potentially antagonistic departmental agendas. The attraction of the proposal lies in the unifying effect of the idea of information competence. That is to say, information competence should be seen as the key to corporate productivity, because organisations need it, managers are able to understand it and information professionals can implement it. © 2009 Online Consultants International GmbH. Page 6 of 12 Some rights reserved.
  7. 7. The Road Ahead: Discussion Paper Strategy Proposal for Information Professionals January 2009 Information competence is the concept that can bridge the gap between the information requirements of commercial organisations and the desire to improve the professional standing of information professionals. THE OBERHOF PROPOSAL The concept of information competence offers information professionals a vehicle with which to articulate and demonstrate their use as information specialists to the organisation; to anchor their activities within the key business processes of the organisation. More importantly, information competence offers information professionals a means to focus their activities and to counter the profession’s destructive tendency towards fragmentation and diversity. The combination of the idea of information competence and the information professional as the person to nurture and implement it additionally provides information professionals with a personal strategy for self-development irrespective of the organisation they work for. At the 24th Oberhof Colloquium on the Practice of Information Transfer held in Barleben/Magdeburg in April 2008, one of the slides used in my presentation offered a suggestion as to how information professionals could render their “Berufsbild” more precisely5: 5 Fanning, 2008. “The role of information competence in improving the fortunes of information professionals” in Informationskompetenz 2.0 Zukunft von qualifizierter Informationsvermittlung, 24. Oberhofer Kolloquium zur Praxis der Informationsvermittlung, Barleben/Magdeburg, April 2008, DGI Tagungsband. © 2009 Online Consultants International GmbH. Page 7 of 12 Some rights reserved.
  8. 8. The Road Ahead: Discussion Paper Strategy Proposal for Information Professionals January 2009 The Role of the Information Professional – A proposal As a precondition for future success resulting from re-positioning and re-tasking their role, the professional image of the information professional must be more precise, e.g. Title: Chief Information Manager (CIM) Role: The Chief Information Manager (CIM) has overall responsibility for information management within an organisation and produces, implements and monitors the information policy and plan of the organisation which has to be approved by senior management. Qualification: A key attribute required for the role of the CIM is the proven ability to be able to understand and articulate the business processes within the organisation in terms of information transactions and to act thereupon. Desirable are also the following:  Ability to think strategically  Ability not only to innovate but also to initiate and administer innovation  Ability to communicate with all levels of management  Experience and understanding of IT-developments is desirable but not necessary  Management experience of organisational change management Reports to: CEO / Managing Director / Senior Management. Figure 2: Description of the title, role and qualifications of a Chief Information Manager. An important observation made at the time of the presentation was that given the increasingly non-linear paths of career development, there is no guarantee that people from those areas more traditionally associated with information, namely librarianship and documentation, would be best suited to the role of a Chief Information Manager: © 2009 Online Consultants International GmbH. Page 8 of 12 Some rights reserved.
  9. 9. The Road Ahead: Discussion Paper Strategy Proposal for Information Professionals January 2009 The Role of the Information Professional – Beware, there is competition! The classic career path of the information professional from the ranks of librarians has to be fundamentally rethought as there is active competition from othe r professions. Chief Information Manager Future: GOAL IT-Staff Lawyers Present: ??? Librarians ??? COMPETITION ??? Consultants Records Managers ??? ??? NEED FOR Proposal: Own profile through cooperation! ACTION! Figure 3: Direction of competition for the role played by information professionals within companies Assessments from the market strongly indicate that where librarians and documentalists want to aspire to positions such as that of the Chief Information Manager described above, they must seek out opportunities and a means of acquiring the relevant skill sets and experience. In this respect, all the professional associations involved in and around information, documentation and knowledge management are challenged to offer guidance and assistance and that consistently - and with conviction - throughout the professional life- time of their members. A VARIATION ON THE THEME The Oberhof proposal is to be regarded as a framework and even as a model which is attempting to address the detail of the implementation of the role of the information professionals as the initiator, evangelist and facilitator of the practical implementation of information competence in the organisation. © 2009 Online Consultants International GmbH. Page 9 of 12 Some rights reserved.
  10. 10. The Road Ahead: Discussion Paper Strategy Proposal for Information Professionals January 2009 All aspects of the model, from the role’s title to the qualifications deemed necessary are, and indeed should be, the subject of discussion. The importance of the model is that it highlights the essential points, namely that the role  involves leadership and management,  is recognised as a key corporate function and  is integrated into essential business processes through a system of reporting and accountability On the basis of these critical points it is possible to expand upon the Oberhof proposal: Generic title Role Qualification Reporting to Director, Knowledge and  Responsible for strategic  Innovative thought-leader CEO Information Management and operational KIM in Board of Directors  Proven ability to render the organisation business operations in Senior management (WID - Wissens und  Initiates and implements information terms Informationsmanagement KIM policy development  Experienced project Direktor) focussing on compliance, manager risk and opportunity  Good communicator Manager, Knowledge and  Responsible for overall  Integrator CEO Information Management knowledge and Board of Directors  Problem solver information management  Experienced project Senior management (WIM - Wissens und  Produces, implements manager Middle management Informationsmanagement and monitors information  Good communicator Manager) policy and resultant plans Information Officer  Delegated responsibility  Willingness to learn CEO Knowledge and Information for special KIM projects  Readiness to solve Board of Directors Management  Produces reports and problems Senior management develops networking  Desire to network and Middle management resources / opportunities integrate (WIB - Wissens und Department head Informationsmanagement  Monitors KIM trends  Good communicator Beauftragter) relevant to organisation Table 1: Expansion of the Oberhof proposal to cover all areas of management and size of company. SPECIFIC CONSIDERATIONS 1. Scope The expanded version of the Oberhof proposal enables the critical points to be adapted for companies of all sizes. Whereas large corporations are more likely to appoint a Director of Knowledge and Information Management, smaller companies, and in particular SME’s, may opt instead to appoint a member of staff to the role of “Information Officer” along the lines of the “Data Protection Officer” i.e. Datenschutzbeauftragter. © 2009 Online Consultants International GmbH. Page 10 of 12 Some rights reserved.
  11. 11. The Road Ahead: Discussion Paper Strategy Proposal for Information Professionals January 2009 2. Generic title – Preservation of a systematic approach The title of the information professional’s role in the expanded Oberhof proposal is suggested as a generic title, where the title is rendered substantial by the consistency with which the role and qualifications are described as well as the consistency of the reporting lines. Where information specialists and their professional organisations regard these titles as generic ones, the system of competence and the hierarchy of its organisation can be preserved. The flexibility of this approach would also enable companies to use job titles they deem appropriate for their organisations while mapping their chosen job titles onto the generic titles used collectively by information specialists and their professional associations. 3. Generic title – Cultivation of a constructive yet still symbiotic distance to IT The selection of the generic job title along the lines of “Knowledge and Information Management” Director / Manager / Officer is a deliberate attempt to further the much needed individualisation between information usage in companies and the information technology that supports such usage. It has after all become imperative that professional people working in the information and knowledge management professions delineate – please note: NOT dissociate - themselves and their activities from those of the ICT community. A large and potentially overwhelming community, preoccupied for the most part with technology and things, where ICT stands for “Information and Communications Technology”, in German “Informations- und Kommunikationstechnologien (IKT).6 Instead, it is recommended that information professionals work collectively to emphasise, and indeed highlight, their expertise in the world of intangibles and abstractions by positioning themselves clearly in the world of Knowledge and Information Management (KIM), in German “Wissens- und Informationsmanagement ( WIM). The proposal to use the appellation “Knowledge and Information Management (KIM)” and its German equivalent “Wissens- und Informationsmanagement (WIM) is given not only with a sense of purpose and pragmatism but also of lament and frustration. Lament because the title “Chief Information Officer (CIO)” has been effectively denied the community of information professionals, as referred to here, by the wide use of “CIO” to refer to (most usually) an information technology professional responsible primarily for IT procurement. The title “Chief Information Officer” and its abbreviation “CIO” has become irretrievably embedded in the world of objects and things. The finer distinctions between information and knowledge and their respective management, it is argued here, are to be and should be discussed and cultivated in the realms of the 6 See http://www.bmwi.de/BMWi/Navigation/Technologie-und-Innovation/informationsgesellschaft.html © 2009 Online Consultants International GmbH. Page 11 of 12 Some rights reserved.
  12. 12. The Road Ahead: Discussion Paper Strategy Proposal for Information Professionals January 2009 specialist. From the point of view of most companies and their management, such discussions are too early and are more likely to distract their focus on and from the pressing need to harness the power of information. The more urgent requirement as far as information professionals are concerned is that management understands that as the Cap Germini report7 also stated: “(t)he information opportunity is as much about information, people and process as it is about technology.” In conclusion, a role model for the views advocated above is now available from the public sector in the United Kingdom, where Natalie Ceeney, CEO of the National Archives (who worked before that in the British Library), has recently been appointed Head of Knowledge and Information Management (KIM) Function. This group deals with the operational aspects of the UK Government’s Knowledge Council8, which is the strategic body established to lead government in the better use and management of its knowledge and information. 7 See footnote 3 above. 8 See http://gkimn.nationalarchives.gov.uk/ © 2009 Online Consultants International GmbH. Page 12 of 12 Some rights reserved.

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