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Understanding The Information Strategist

Understanding The Information Strategist
The world of associations and groups that serve the enterprise information sector currently looks something like this:‚Äč

Each association and group has a body of knowledge and a specific profession, that leverages enterprise information, and focuses on that specific profession (e.g. Records Managers are served by ARMA, ECM is served by AIIM, Privacy Professionals by IAPP, etc.). The Information Coalition serves a gap in this structure that isn't quite visible in our typical understanding of associations and groups, let me show it to you...

You can find the gap with me by asking some very simple questions:

  • Which group sets organizational policy?
  • Which group is "in charge" of information?
  • Who coordinates between the various roles?


Who is it that does that cross functional work that aligns enterprise information policy and structure across disciplines? In some companies it's the CIO, in others it's the CTO, in many others (I daresay most), it's no one at all. There's the huge gap. We call the people that fill that gap, whatever their official title, an information strategist.

It's the information strategist, and the people that are de facto Information Strategists, that the Information Coalition serves, and we believe that the real picture of where things are going is something akin to this:

We believe that the information strategist's role is incredibly challenging and incredibly important, whatever their official title may be (CIO, CTO, CIGO, Information Manager, Records Manager, Privacy Director, etc.).

The deep knowledge of the associations and groups that cover our broad sector should be cherished and honored; but let's be clear - we aren't that. The information strategist needs to have knowledge across disciplines, a bit of everything. The information strategist needs to have knowledge about how to align the various disciplines. This is where we serve and it shows in how we operate.

What many don't know is that we invite as many of the groups you see above to speak, present, and display at The Information Governance Conference. A few have taken us up on that offer (ARMA has in the past, the ICRM board has joined us, and IAPP and the PDF Association will be joining us this year).

Unfortunately, some have decided to not take us up on our offer, viewing us instead as competition. We'd like to clear the air and help everyone better understand our positioning, so that we can all move forward, together, and help our various professions advance, together. Consider this an open and public call to any and all of the aforementioned groups (and any we might have missed) to come and join us this year. We are paying for the costs of their registration and their tables (which we are charged for by the convention center) ourselves, that's how deep our commitment to this cross-functional work is.

As for the Information Coalition, we're continuing to gain momentum and are growing at a breakneck pace, not because we are fighting against the disciplinary focused associations. We're growing because we are enhancing their offerings, providing guidance on how to move from the tactical roles of a specific discipline into the broad role of an information strategist. If you're seeing your role shift towards the role of an "information strategist", join us, our basic membership is free (and we're committed to your success) and ALSO join the association that serves your specific domain of knowledge, we all have a role to play in the future of our professions.

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Knowledge Management Rises From The Dead

Knowledge Management Rises From The Dead

Knowledge Management, like a zombie, is returning from the dead due to the rise of Enterprise Social Networks. In the mid-90s through the early 2000s, all of the rage was Knowledge Management. The dream of pulling together the individual knowledge of workers across an enterprise ruled the day, ruled the pundits, ruled the discussion, rules the purchasing departments. It ended, however, as mostly a lost cause, primarily because of the available tools in the 90s and early 2000s.

Despite the efforts of many to keep the dream of Knowledge Management alive, the concept had tarnished with age. What seemed like the promise of an enterprise embrace was met with a yawn for results of most of the KM efforts of the day. The dream of Knowledge Management was just that, a dream... until now.

With the rise of Enterprise Social Networks like Yammer, Jive, Chatter, etc., Knowledge Management has "snuck" back into the enterprise software discussion. Through the serendipitous sharing of information as "knowledge workers" discuss projects, ideas, and initiatives on ESNs, the knowledge of the individual is becoming the knowledge of the enterprise.

Despite finally having the mechanisms to finally capture enterprise-wide knowledge, companies are just now coming to the realization that all of this serendipitous knowledge has real value. This has presented several problems to companies attempting to re-embrace Knowledge Management.

Knowledge Capture

In the world of ESNs, Knowledge is captured serendipitously. One of the greatest benefits of ESNs are their ability to 'morph' around the organization. The problem with this is that knowledge that is captured in ESNs is often untamed and feral. "Feral Knowledge" (the term coined here) has diminished value compared to its cousin Classified Knowledge. Classified Knowledge can be migrated and discovered, brought to the fore in other systems through its metadata and categorization and can emerge when needed. Feral Knowledge has difficulty in its ability to become Emergent Knowledge (Emergence is a key part of Dion Hinchcliffe's early enterprise social FLATNESSES model).

ESN Current Structure:

ESN Future Structure:

Many ESNs have taken steps to move their content towards Classified Knowledge. Through the use of tagging, a folksonomy develops in which the collective user base's tags create an adhoc taxonomy. This can be combined with the hierarchy of "Groups" to form a classification scheme (admittedly a mediocre one by enterprise standards, but much better than the non-existent classification schemes of today).

The problem is that most group hierarchies in ESNs only go one level deep (as shown in the picture "ESN Current Structure"). In this model we have the primary ESN and then groups reside and are created in a single tier under the primary ESN. This will need to change so that a true hierarchy can help in classification (as shown in the picture "ESN Future Structure"). In the proposed future structure, the ESN has enterprise defined groups at however many levels are necessary to align with the enterprise structure. User created (or non-enterprise) groups are provisioned (yes, provisioned through a process determining whether the group should exist or not) in an area under the enterprise groupings so that consistency and alignment with enterprise policies and structures can be passed hierarchically to these new "children" sites. When ESNs can move towards a more traditional model for groups with a true enterprise hierarchy with extension of the enterprise hierarchy with user-driven groups, Knowledge Management can benefit through the passing of ESN knowledge in alignment with other enterprise systems.

Knowledge Transfer

One major problem that ESNs have is not the capture of knowledge, but the transfer of knowledge from the individual to the collective. Yes, ESNs are searchable, but they often live in a disconnected space, separate from primary systems for managing information. To move from Capturing Knowledge to Transferring Knowledge throughout an organization, ESNs need to continue their march from fringe outlier systems (see this 2012 article in Information Week about Yammer's freemium trap strategy for context) to connected enterprise systems.

Since ESNs are disconnected from other enterprise systems, there is no means for transferring knowledge from the ESN to the primary systems of the "knowledge workers". Since there is no Knowledge Transfer, there cannot be emergent knowledge within those systems being fed through the ESN knowledge that is being captured.

Continued enterprise connectedness will be necessary to derive the true value of ESNs for Knowledge Management.

Knowledge Analysis

The last issue that I'll discuss in this piece is that of Knowledge Analysis. Metrics and reporting are abysmal in most Enterprise Social Networks and that will need to change (or be augmented by a partner like ViewDo). Knowledge value needs to be measurable to ensure usefulness prior to Knowledge Transfer. In a free-for-all environment like an ESN (a critique and a benefit), establishing what knowledge has value will become necessary.

The first round of analysis and metrics tools for ESNs can provide Yammer Analytics, Jive Analytics, or Chatter Analytics, etc.. This is necessary in the move from ESNs as rogue applications to becoming established enterprise systems, measurability continually proving the validity, value, and usefulness of the platforms.

As ESNs continue to mature, content analysis will integrate and establish knowledge value through Knowledge Analysis. It will then be possible to validate individual knowledge value and align with an enterprise strategy for Knowledge Transfer.

Knowledge Management, Welcome Back

ESNs have brought Knowledge Management back from the dead. By leveraging the knowledge that is created within ESNs organizations are able to achieve the early promises of Knowledge Management of increased productivity, reduced costs, improved organizational efficiency, and better decision making. It is through early investments in the ESNs themselves and ESN analytics tools like Viewpoint Enterprise, that companies will gain competitive advantage. CIOs, CTOs, and other enterprise decision makers that are forward looking now, stand to move their corporate cultures forward faster and ready themselves for the return of Knowledge Management.

A special thank you to Naomi Moneypenny for suggesting I write out my thoughts on this topic.

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Introducing Information Coalition

Introducing Information Coalition

I believe in the strength of the information community.

The Information Governance Conference team has been providing resources to the community for nearly three years now, resources like the Conference itself, the Information Governance Model, Information Symposium, and now Research.

It is now time to unify and bring together the community once again, this time bringing every resource, event, and educational offering under one new banner...

Information Coalition.

Information Coalition is focused on your needs as an information professional. We're the same team that crowdsources conference sessions, makes your voice heard through community awards chosen by you, and now we're taking that community connection to the next level.

Information Coalition is your resource for Enterprise Information success and we have a ton of resources for you.

  • We've got unlimited education for our Professional Members, along with facilitated Peer Groups that are focused on your specific information challenges.

  • We've got an online community, and you're reading from our community blogs right now. It is a new, strong forum for the exchange of ideas.

  • We've got exclusive, foundational resources just for you, from The Information Governance Model to the Enterprise Information Management Maturity Model.

So you see, we're the Information Coalition, and so are you.

Join us by becoming an Information Coalition Member, at the level most appropriate for you:

  • Essentials Members: Free membership for life. IC Essentials Membership gives you access to many of the resources you'll need for your Enterprise Information success. Nominate for #InfoGov Awards, Vote in #InfoGov Awards, Download Research, Join the Community, Download Resources, Register for Events, and more.

  • Professional Membership: Low cost annual membership. IC Professional Membership is unmatched in its' benefits including our Peer Groups and Unlimited Education. All of the benefits of Basic Membership plus... Expert Facilitated Mentoring Peer Review Group, Early Access to Research, Special Bi-Annual Analyst Briefing, Discounts on Events, Access Research Archive, Access Webinar Archive, and Unlimited Education.

  • Enterprise Membership: IC Enterprise Membership is available for organizations with an ongoing commitment to their information. We offer a group discount for Professional Memberships under our Enterprise Membership. All of the benefits of Professional Membership for your employees, available at a progressive group discount.

  • Underwriters: IC Underwriters are vendor organizations that have a commitment to the Enterprise Information community. Underwriters put their support and their money behind this effort, in return they are featured in our Solutions Directory, get discounts across all sponsorship products, unlimited education access, and loads more. Contact us to become an IC Underwriter as we begin rolling out Underwriter status and features in the coming weeks.

Information Coalition is focused on your needs, not the next shiny new distraction. We are invested in your enterprise information success. We thank you for your support.

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