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A new agenda for information services
In 1998, when we wrote about what knowledge managers do, the focus of the CKO was knowledge generation and sharing, making information available over the Internet, and creating enterprise organization schemes. Today, the focus is shifting away from content, access, and sharing toward performance and getting results — e.g. reducing the cost of health care, making government services more effective, designing breakthrough products. This requires increasing the productivity of knowledge workers, the 25 to 50% of employees in advanced economies that find, create, package, distribute and apply knowledge. In this article we look at how the new focus is changing the complexion of information services and describe a support system for attaining it — for ourselves, our colleagues, and our organizations.
Productivity, performance, and results
This time it's about people and process, not about technology. Some observers suggest that we already have too much technology for organizations to digest. It's not about building business cases, conducting usability studies, creating taxonomies, or finding a more efficient search engine. It's about finding key business problems and figuring out how to deploy all information assets — data, published material, technology, people, standards, and processes. The goal is to achieve measurable results, such as reducing the number of deaths from a certain disease, reducing the number of accidents in a manufacturing plant, or increasing the number of profitable new products.
You don't have to build a business case, because in defining the problem you have articulated the need and the appropriate metric. You don't have to conduct usability studies because the key players, not the IT function, drive the process, help design the solution, and test the prototype. You don't create taxonomies from content alone or select new a new search engine simply by conducting a vendor "bake-off." Instead, you select and customize navigation tools to fit the specific situation. Here are some examples of what we mean:
10 new realities
The common denominators here are collaboration outside organization boundaries, decentralized models for knowledge creation and distribution, a higher level of institutional responsibility for security, privacy, and transparency, and an urgent need for greater effectiveness in a broad spectrum of knowledge-intensive industries.
Gearing up for the new realities
On a more fundamental level, what kind of support system would prepare you to answer these questions? Here's what our wish list looks like:
None of the items on our wish list is particularly new. All are offered by other organizations catering to specific disciplines and industries. But no organization offers these services in the context of information productivity and performance from an interdisciplinary and practical perspective.
Since 1998, we have been researching, writing, and interviewing members in all these areas. In the Lab, we've experimented with Google and Amazon Web services, blogs, XML, metadata repositories, and auto-categorization software. Results have been published in the Digest, Montague Institute Review, and Member Q&A articles. Our courses have evolved from lecture-demo sessions into project-oriented work with a Web-based lab and one-on-one mentoring.
But we have just scratched the surface in terms of tapping member expertise, providing contact with experts and information pioneers through face-to-face and virtual meetings, testing and reporting on new software and services, developing and sharing the capabilities of our learning materials and lab. We have formed a small advisory group to help us develop ways to better leverage our resources and those of our members. We are looking at adding more services and opportunities for collaboration to our enterprise membership as well as ways that individual members can receive additional benefits in proportion to their contributions — e.g. as authors, compilers, and roundtable guests.Created on September 8, 2005 l Updated on April 2, 2013