by Darron Chapman, Europe Chapter, Academic, Business & Finance Divisions
Earlier this year, TFPL used its extensive networks to take a snapshot of how organisations are assigning Knowledge and Information Management (KIM) responsibilities and to see what trends are emerging. Key to the survey was the concept of ‘responsibilities’ rather than job titles and the KIM Responsibilities Framework. The Framework was developed following TFPL research in2006 and provided a structure for the survey. Respondents came from global, national and local organisations and were predominately UK based. The full report based on the survey is available on the TFPL website http://www.tfpl.com/resources/reports.cfm but the following key points standout.
Organisational strategy for innovation and investment has become a significant driver for assigning KIM responsibilities, suggesting that KIM is regarded more as an essential, rather than discretionary, business function. This is a discernible shift towards KIM roles reporting into the business, as KIM needs are identified on an enterprise-wide basis. A model has evolved towards the dispersal of KIM practitioners throughout organisations supported by a central team. A matrix approach also means that dispersed practitioners are also part of a KIM team. So, in spite of rumours to the contrary, KIM teams still have a place in what’s often called the “future ready” business.
KIM headcount is remarkably stable, having not significantly fallen over the last five years. There is evidence of patterns of growth and decline in public and private organisations; however there is a net gain overall, with a wider range of sectors employing KIM staff.
There is a modest growth predicted in roles across the Framework with some areas more dynamic than others. The apparent loss of some traditional roles and responsibilities has been mitigated by creation of other, enriched roles calling for a continuing development of new skills and novel application of traditional skills.
There is a clear move towards the core KIM disciplines – information management, records management, library and information services, business analysis, and knowledge management,– coming together or merging. However, some relevant functions — such as Research, Competitive Intelligence and Information Technology – do not generally align themselves with KIM community.
The personal impact of individuals, team members as well as KIM Leaders is increasingly important. It is crucial to be able to align with, and understand, the organisation, to have the ability to develop skills, and to recognise how the role contributes to corporate success.
Inevitably the survey raised a number of questions in our minds, and we are sure that there are many more. So, for example:
- Should KIM professionals focus on aligning themselves to corporate strategy, innovation and investment?
- Will the KIM profession develop into a multi-disciplinary but cohesive group, or will it become a federation of different disciplines?
- If KIM roles are increasingly dispersed within organisations, will individuals continue to identify with the KIM community as a support network? Or, as new people are recruited into these roles, will they identify with their business community first?
- How far are we experiencing a step change or continuing to evolve as a profession?
- Have some functions, such as Research, began to split off from KIM as a career path?
We would welcome feedback and any further questions you might have at email@example.com.
Darron Chapman is the Managing Director TFPL Ltd and President Elect of SLA’s Europe Chapter. Darron has been with TFPL since 1990, initially focusing on recruitment, becoming Managing Director after TFPL’s acquisition by IDOX Plc. Darron’s work as Director of Recruitment gave him a broad and unique view of developments in the information and business world. An established member of the executive team he helped shape the direction of the company and launched the first recruitment service dedicated to knowledge management.
Darron can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter @DPCHA.