The Challenge of Information Overload & the Opportunity of Abundance
by Charlie Davidson, CEO, Attensa
In Part I of this post, I called out the “Opportunity for Information Professionals in an era of Information Abundance.” I also explored the many challenges created by the ubiquity of information and why traditional information services and tools struggle to address the problems and opportunities of information abundance. Chiefly, this struggle occurs because current information gathering and delivery tools were designed in and for a paradigm of information scarcity rather than information abundance.
In conjunction with this shift from scarcity to abundance, the role of information professionals is evolving as well. Alexander Feng, director, strategic research at the dd+p group and chairman of the Pharmaceutical & Health Technology Division at SLA, offers a wonderful perspective on this in his essay “Corporate Librarian 2.0: New Core Competencies” (PDF). He observes, “the core role of information specialists is changing from information gatekeeper to information guru.” Feng believes this can empower librarians to become both “information enablers” and “knowledge creators.”
Information professionals are uniquely positioned for this important new role by virtue of understanding myriad information sources and how information maps to organizational objectives. What is missing, however, are the processes and enabling technologies to empower them.
The best part of this evolution is that it does not require radical changes to company processes or worker behavior. The basic notion is to implement a simple framework with four essential elements:
- An aggregation engine that unites digital sources inside and outside the organization.
- An automated way to rapidly capture and organize information into topics relevant to the organization and its people.
- Content delivery options that span offices, geographies, viewing devices and more.
- Analytics that report how information is being consumed to drive content recommendations and purchasing decisions.
These elements are described in the graphic below.
These four elements form the foundation of a solution that is robust enough to deliver on the promise of exploiting the abundance of information available today — and capitalize on the changes to come. These innovations will bring immediate value to your organization by extracting new and untapped value from the information already flowing through it. You can learn more about this here.
A question I often get asked is: “How do information professionals get started sponsoring these needed changes?”
Here is the good news! The business justification for these projects and the ROI are straightforward and provide impact across different roles in the organization. You will find many friends and supporters to help make your business case. In our work with customers across various industries, common interests have emerged between information professionals, knowledge management professionals, marketing and sales operations, CIOs and senior technology professionals.
Effective information management generally goes to the heart of many corporate initiatives and the connections between your initiative and other roles in the organization will be mutually beneficial. For example, knowledge management professionals gain insights into the intellectual assets of the organization and are able to effectively connect people, information and processes. CIOs and technologists harvest greater value from existing technology and communication assets. Marketing and sales operations professionals can grow revenue more effectively and empower better customer relationships.
Of course, the ultimate value accrues when the people across the organization receive more relevant and timely information about the topics that matter to them so they can find prospects, monitor competitors or industries and keep clients satisfied.
Charlie Davidson is the CEO of Attensa, an enterprise software company solving the problem of information overload for businesses and professionals. He serves on the Steering Committee for the Information Overload Research Group and is also a member of the Oregon and Washington State Bar Associations. Charlie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org on Twitter @CharlieDavidson or at +1 971.340.2000 ext. 100.