Five key challenges for the information professional

Organisational decision makers are at 'cognitive breaking point'. If they are to help, information professionals should be focusing on five key challenges.

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Challenge number 3 - Make connections in the information landscape

From my own experience, the IT department does a pretty good job of data processing (production of corporate financial data, reporting and so on).  However, it ends there.  Frankly the majority of organisations haven't a clue what to do with social media or, for that matter with most of the newer information/media technologies.  They are underexploited in their own right and in terms of dealing with their interconnectedness or the information and people flows involved, few organisations in my experience have even ventured there.  Simply too difficult or, worse, it is seen as an IT challenge.  Bigger organisations have formal structures and it becomes more difficult to span the boundaries between them. They are less agile, more ossified in terms of the ICT landscapes they have invested in and more risk averse.  New information professionals need to be the corporate eyes that look beyond the individual technologies and create a new corporate picture for linking people, information and THEN technology.  It is not a technology solution that is needed - it's a human issue that is underpinned by technology!

Challenge 4 - Provide a home for the organisation's information assets and management

Frankly, the information landscape is bigger than IT - the bits in the servers are fine and well but, what about the bits in my head?  Where are the real ‘go to' are points for information and who is actually feeding, watering and tending these information oases?  Issues of trust, currency and maintenance apply equally well to any tools, whether they are called ‘collaboration tools' or not.  The real attention needs to be paid to the human architecture that surrounds these.  Remember, people are information assets too - and they walk! The new information professionals need to provide challenge to their communities to look at information landscapes holistically.

Challenge 5 - Provide a 'quality of decision' mirror to decision makers

This is by far the most controversial challenge.   As a decision maker, I would not readily warm to the challenge of having my decision making questioned unless I could feel that there was a valuable lesson to enhance my future capability.  I am suggesting that the KIM community needs to shape an agenda that helps decision makers drive deeply into their decision making processes and resources - and then help improve them. In crude terms, this is the difference between pie in the sky and getting a seat at the table.

Stephen Cahill is a senior decision maker who has spent over 25 years improving effectiveness in a wide range of organisations.  He believes that the time has come for the fundamental repositioning of the role of information professionals in organisations.

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