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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There has been a fundamental change in the decision making landscape in organisations.  There is more data available but less time to reach decisions.  The statistics for executive burn-out and examples of spectacularly poor decision-making seem to indicate that leaders are at cognitive breaking point.

I believe that organisations need a new type of information management.  Knowledge and information professionals need to reposition themselves to provide critical support to their organisations.  Here's how I believe they should do it.

Challenge number 1 - Develop new managerial skillsets

Information management and decision making within networked information flows will become  new core skills for decision makers.  A particular issue  is the challenge of 'fast -slow' decision making.  Simply put, as a decision maker, you may be faced with a decision that has a three year time window(such as a property lease or a major IT contract).  The next moment, you may face an immediate cash flow issue, a recession, or a major customer going bust and find yourself having to shed hundreds of staff.    

In the last 20 years I have seen little evidence of managers being coached or trained in how to manage knowledge and information.  We train managers in financial skills, human resources management but we don't train them how to think, cope or manage in information overload situations.  How are they to gain these skills?  They are hardly innate skills and what we can cram into a database does not even come fractionally near the complexity of the way the human mind handles information.  This is challenge number one on the new KIM agenda. Information professionals have simply got to help solve this challenge if they are to bring lasting value to their organisations

Challenge number 2 - Provide an information assurance role

Information and data is increasingly fragmented and suspect.  Whom do I trust?    Are the decisions around what work to bid for based on sound information that has material bearing on the decision?  Far from sliding into a state of managerial paranoia, the issue of trust in information sources is a massive challenge.  The new information professionals will be the only defence against the "data-deluge syndrome" that is created by over-exploitation of technology.

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