Saturday, 24 September 2016

Professional education

The September issue of Business Information Review carried an article by Jela Webb about mid-career professional education. In part the article addressed the place of doctoral education for Information Professionals. Traditionally PhDs have been undertaken predominantly by individuals hoping to enter academia as a kind of entry-level qualification. However in recent years a range of doctoral level qualifications have been developed specifically intended to facilitate mid-career education within professional contexts. Professional Doctorates are doctoral level qualifications that blend the research grounding of traditional PhDs with career orientated classroom based teaching; they are designed to be not only more relevant to professional practice but also more manageable within the context of part time study that traditional PhDs.  At the current time professional doctorates in information management, librarianship, and information science are scarce in the UK context. This raises questions about the role and function of professional education and the means by which it contributes to a shared body of knowledge and experience, and to the formation of a coherent and integrated professional identity. 

On the most fundamental level professional education benefits the individual by inculcating a set of professional knowledge and competencies that can be used as a kind of tool-kit to address both familiar and novel problems.  This “body of professional knowledge” idea also has a gate-keeper function ensuring at least in principle a base level of professional competency governed by the professional body. However, the benefits of undertaking professional education for the individual extend far beyond this basic idea, and include the development of professional networks and partnerships that benefit individuals throughout their careers. The social capital that individuals gain a consequence of undertaking educational courses is often what endures from the experience in the longer term. 

There is however also a broader role of professional education in generating and sustaining professional identities and communities. What binds the information profession is not merely a set of jobs with overlapping responsibilities, but a shared sense of values, identity, and belonging. It is this sense of coherence within a profession discourse, and difference with other professions and occupational groupings that define the nature of professions. Professional education and practice-based research, scholarship and publishing contribute to this shared identity, and to the relative status of practicing professionals. Business Information Review also aims to contribute to professional identity formation by offering opportunities for individuals to contribute to broader debates, and to the sharing of experience. 

It follows that the kinds of qualifications that make up the professional education provision have an influence on the status, coherence, and social capital of those professional groupings. Information professionals generally qualify and achieve chartership at an early stage in their careers; studying for (usually) an accredited masters degree often occurs in the years following undergraduate study, or in the early years of a paraprofessional role for returners or mid-career switchers. Predominantly post-chartership education is managed through short course provision and professional networking events, much of which lacks recognition beyond the profession. This is not unique; the teaching profession has a similar structure. While Information professionals in the commercial sector may also often follow the MBA route into, this may sometimes sit uneasily with the broader professional values.  

What has been missing in the information profession is ways for experienced practitioners to gain wider recognition of their professional seniority. It is this gap that an expansion of doctoral education in the information sector could fill, not as a replacement of senior fellowship of CILIP and other professional bodies, but as a stepping stone towards it. The benefits of this would be both for the individual, but also for the profession as a whole, increasing the status and social capital of library and information profession. As public librarianship has declined in recent decades, academic and commercial practitioners make up a greater proportion of the professional community, and in the financial, legal and academic sectors working alongside colleagues for whom higher level professional and academic qualifications are relatively commonplace. Interestingly, the area in which professional doctorates are most common is in education; the EdD or Doctorate in Education is for many educators a stepping stone to more senior roles and responsibilities. Perhaps there is scope in the Information Profession for similar qualifications both benefiting the individuals who undertake such programmes, but also the status and coherence of the wider professional community.       

Friday, 16 September 2016

September's issue sneak peak

We have a packed issue this month covering not only the exploration of culture, language and leadership on knowledge sharing, but the latest news on the development of international KM standards, experience on developing and implementing your first information strategy and information on managing your own career.  We also have our regular columns from Martin White and Allan Foster too.

News update on Developing International KM standards – Paul J Corney – Managing Partner, Knowledge et al.

Paul reviews the current state of developing KM standards and provides further news on what is being done by the International Standards Organisation (ISO) to establish a set of Knowledge Management Standards. Paul considers the importance and implications of the development of such a set of standards and how ultimately it could be a game changing move that will affect knowledge professionals across the globe.

Managerial Implications of Rocking the Floor by Employees: Consequences of Voice Behaviour - Faryal Batool, Department of Commerce Bahauddin Zakariya University Multan-Pakistan

Faryal and colleagues explore and discuss the implications of employees raising their voice to voice concerns or ideas.  They explore the merits and drawbacks of two types of voice – promotive and prohibitive discussing the impact they may have on achieving change in the work place and on the individual’s own personal working environment.  It also considers the effect on leadership and to some extent leadership style.

Knowledge sharing among employees in Ghanaian Industries: the role of transformational leadership style and communal organizational culture- Henry Boateng, School of Communication, University of Technology Sydney

Henry explores the effects of organizational culture and transformational leadership style on knowledge sharing.  It goes on to explore transformational leadership, its affect and importance for enhancing knowledge sharing.  

From Passenger to Pilot - taking the lead and building a business critical information management strategy – Si├ón Tyrrell Head of Horticultural Information & Advice, Royal Horticultural Society

Sian shares her experiences and explores the steps needed to develop and implement an effective information strategy from scratch.   She considers the challenges in different types of environment having worked in both public and private sectors within large and small information teams.  She makes suggestions for adapting approaches to ensure that the information strategy developed is fit for purpose regardless of the type of organization or their position in regards to the importance of an information strategy.

The mid-career information professional: managing your own career - Jela Webb MBA, MSc, ACIB, CCTS, Senior Lecturer, University of Brighton (Business School)

Jela reviews the current environment for those in the middle of their information professional career, what the different options are to consider and what is important in terms of career planning.  In particular, she reviews what will be important skill sets that organisations will look for in the future, looks at taking time out from your career to update your skills and what formal qualifications are available.  She identifies what career ownership and career capital means, their roles and why they are important for effective career development.

Perspectives and Initiatives

Martin White explores the dynamics of teams, what they need to enable them to function effectively and how they work together to support each other to complete a task.  In the articles he reviews he looks at a long term study of the introduction of knowledge management into the public sector as well as many aspects affecting team performance including: organizational culture, social networking and other technologies, collaboration and management innovation.

Allan looks at the increasing importance of due diligence and the critical role information professionals can play in providing important research.  He also cover’s new developments with information providers who are aiming to provide better and more complete information in this area.  He also takes an in-depth look at the growing digital skills gap, looking at what is being done and how that needs to be stepped up a gear to be able to keep UK industry competitive in the future.  Another important skill he looks at is data management and how it is under-valued at present in the work place.  Continuing with the digital theme is the strategic importance of digital transformation and what new technologies will disrupt business in the future.  Informal social media networks are playing an important role in supporting new business start-ups.  He also takes a look at different intelligence and research reports for Brexit and new product development from information vendors.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Navigating Uncertainty - Again

Scott Brown, Owner, Social Information Group; Cybrarian, Oracle Inc.; and Business Information Review Board Member
Please note this post contains the personal views of the author and are not connected with his employer
The June 2016 issue of Business Information Review focuses on several aspects of security – policy and regulations, the complications introduced by social media, and the “human factor” in security, among other topics. If anything, the issue and articles illustrate the complexity of security issues, and the many grey areas that we need to navigate. 
With the late June “Brexit” referendum vote, another layer of uncertainty has been added to the mix. Many global tech companies were already struggling with the demise of the Safe Harbour framework for data transfer, security, and privacy within and outside of the EU. The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, which, as of this writing, seems on the verge of formal adoption, imposes stronger guidelines on US companies to protect EU personal data. Hopefully, the adoption of Privacy Shield will provide the needed clarification for secure and compliant information exchange across borders. 
Should Brexit come to pass, these issues will likely need to be resolved in separate agreements with the UK, and between the UK and the EU. 
While several observers have speculated about the impact of Brexit, including the impact on IT spending and the effect on talent movement within the UK and EU, Outsell’s initial look at the effect of Brexit on the information industry highlights several potential effects that impact the information world. In addition to the various downside impacts, Outsell speculates that “winners” – or at least those that stand to benefit or become busier from Brexit – include legal consultants, and information providers such as LexisNexis, Thomson Reuters, and IHS Markit. 
The most marked effect of Brexit to date, outside of the immediate impact on global stock markets, has been to inject a lot of uncertainty around the longer-term outcomes and effects. As business information professionals, it’s more important than ever to be tracking this space, understanding the implications (as much as possible), and sharing relevant information within our organizations and with our clients. 
While many sources are clearly reporting on the effects of Brexit, Outsell seems dedicated to tracking and reporting on this space from the information arena. The Financial Times is covering this space more broadly, with detailed coverage particularly in the financial markets. Both sources are definitely worth tracking and including as part of your informational “toolkit”. 
As information professionals, we’re well-positioned to provide “early warning”, and to help our organizations and clients navigate this next stage of uncertainty.

Friday, 10 June 2016

June Business Information Review

The June issue of Business Information Review has now been published online, and will be available in hard copy in a week or two. The June issue  focusses on information security and governance. By focusing on information security and information governance, we hope to highlight not only the importance of the issue in contemporary business and commerce but also the contribution of the information profession to managing security and risk. This is the first in what we hope will be an occasional series of themed issues and we’d welcome feedback on it.

The articles published in the latest issue of Business Information Review therefore all address questions of information security in one form or another. First is Ralph O’Brien’s paper ‘Privacy and Security: the New European Data Protection Regulation and What it Means for Data Breaches’. Ralph is Principle Consultant EU for 5 TRUSTe, TRUSTe a leading global Data Privacy Management company. His paper explores the changing regulation around data protection emerging out of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and in particular its impact on the management of data breaches. 

The GDPR is also discussed in David Haynes’ paper, ‘Social Media, Risk and Information Governance’. David is a regular contributor to Business Information Review and visiting lecturer at City University London. His paper addresses what is often an overlooked area of information work: social media governance. David’s paper develops a risk management model of governance that addresses the threats to which social media strategies and outputs give rise. It makes an important case for the risks associated with social media and the importance of incorporating them into information governance processes.

A new contributor to the journal, Nick Wilding is Head of Cyber Resilience at AXELOS Global Best Practice – a joint venture company set up in 2013 and co-owned by the UK Government and Capita plc. Nick is responsible for RESILIA™ Global Best Practice – a portfolio of cyber resilience best practice publications, certified training, all staff awareness learning and leadership engagement tools designed to put the ‘human factor’ at the centre of your cyber resilience strategy. In his paper – ‘Cyber Resilience: How Important is Your Reputation? How Effective Are Your People’ – Nick argues for a move from thinking about cyber security to thinking about cyber resilience and outlines the guiding principles of cyber awareness learning, training and education.

Finally, Danny Budzak returns to Business Information Review with a new paper: ‘Information Security: the People Issue’. Danny’s paper examines the information security issues raised by the involvement of people with information systems. It first sets out the threats to information systems, and the risks associated with information systems, before addressing the mitigation of those threats through managing roles, responsibilities, relationships and training. 

Martin White returns with ‘Perspectives’, which both round up some of the developments in the business information world. In Perspectives, Martin White explores recent publications both in the information world and beyond that have relevance for professional practice. In this issue, he draws attention to research on data management emerging form the Information School at Sheffield University, research into newspaper archiving practice in the US and returns to the issue of information overload among other topics. 

Once again we are also grateful for Alan Fosters’ continued work in producing  ‘Initiatives’. In this issue, Alan addresses a range of developments in the areas of digital transformations, data management, value and volume of data, higher education and IT, IM and data skills development and open data as well as the latest industry news. As ever, it is an incredibly  comprehensive and useful resource

The June issue is available now at  

Friday, 15 April 2016

Business Information Management: what of the future?

Author: Stephen Phillips, Executive Director Morgan Stanley Administration and Business Information Review Board Member

Please note this post is the personal views of the author and not connected with their employer

Several recent publications shine an interesting, but somewhat worrying light on the future of the information profession.

Much has been written about the 2016 BIR Survey, one outcome relates to the skill sets needed to deliver a successful information management (IM) capability.    The decline and softening in perceived value of “core IM skills” at many organisations continues.  This decline appears to be gathering momentum, in a sluggish economy many organisations resort to eliminating costs to drive up margins.  Consequently, IM groups have found themselves at risk of being dissipated around the organisation, outsourced, offshored or closed.  Meanwhile, the survey revealed a continuing undercurrent of opportunity to nurture an understanding of, and demand for a more strategic approach to IM. 

Outsell’s State of Information Management: not a recipe for success is a more recent publication (April 4th 2016) but no less challenging a read.  Based on Outsell’s 2015 global survey of IM professionals, a recurring theme is the need for new/different skill sets to meet evolving needs and demands being placed on the IM staff.  These new skills relate to Data and Analytics, visualisation, ROI/Value analysis, KM and content integration.  A more worrying finding indicated that few IM professionals have the resources (time or money) needed to equip their teams to respond adequately to these emerging opportunities.

The LexisNexis blog on the Future of Law referred to a recent book with similar themes: The future of the professions by Richard and Daniel Susskind. Whilst the blog focuses on the legal profession, the book deals with a wide range of professions.  In the case of IM, we have already witnessed the erosion of the “grand bargain”, the societal contract by which we are granted a mandate to control our field of expertise in return for our exceptional knowledge.  Whilst we retain “exceptional knowledge” of our field, a variety of technologies are enabling or embedding IM competencies and capabilities upstream/downstream of the traditional place of IM operations in an organisations’ workflow.  Forcing IM to reconsider where it fits in many organisations.

So, what of the future?  No one would be so bold as to predict where IM will be in 3 or 5 years’ time.  Organisations evolve at different speeds in response to a range of drivers, which shape their IM needs and strategies.  Two themes will prevail:

·         A strategic role to deliver relevant, integrated IM strategies to meet the changing needs of the organisation.  This facilitating role works collaboratively with functional peers (e.g. IT) to enable colleagues and technologies to self-serve for the information they need to prosecute their business
·         A tactical focus on the operational needs of the organisation.  Some legacy competencies will remain relevant, but commoditisation of these skills continues to dilute their value.  Leaving the information professionals the challenge of moving their work further up the value chain

The current threats are symptomatic of a much wider trend impacting a range of professions and is hardly surprising, as noted by the Susskinds.  Much more critical is the response to these forces, to quote a well-known Sci-Fi foe “resistance is futile”, and will likely be damaging.  No two organisations are the same, but opportunities abound and it is in our gift to create compelling offerings and “save” ourselves. 

To do this, the profession must continue to adapt to new realities, use its expertise to explore new roles or niches.  The IM professional must understand their organisation and its priorities, scan that landscape for openings, and deliver cost effective capabilities to realise those opportunities.  Be objective, agile, entrepreneurial, stay positive, embrace change, explore and ultimately exploit new or related needs and activities to develop and deliver critical IM capabilities relevant to the organisation.  Don’t be afraid to relinquish tasks or responsibilities perceived to be of low value, and don’t try to protect your role or your team, but develop and grow the skills needed to deliver more value for the organisation.

As a colleague once noted: we are all sharks and we must keep swimming to survive.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Re using data to gain knowledge and intelligence from a different perspective

Author - Lynn Strand, BIR Editorial Board, Principal Outside Knowledge LLC and Chair Competitive Intelligence Division SLA 

I’ve been hard at work finalizing a project for a client on the spending habits of US consumers. It got me thinking about the vast array of data collected around the world to get insights into how people spend their money.

While I was primarily using the Community Expenditure Survey from the US Census Bureau for this project, my client had a lot of questions about other data that might be valuable for looking at the rest of the world's spending habits.

It turns out that we can utilize an enormous amount of data gathered by governments, NGOs, foundations, think tanks, management consultancies, banks, journals and  academic institutions, just to name a few.

Want to find out how much it costs to buy a loaf of bread in Paris? Mumbai? Oregon? It’s out there.
How about a nice glass of wine? The average cost of a bottle of table wine in Zurich last year was $15.93USD. In New York it was $12.74USD, but in Seoul? A whopping  $27.66USD! So, what can this tell us about consumer behavior across the globe?

These seemingly small bites of data can be gathered up to create a fuller picture of what the average American, Korean, Australian or Columbian consumer views as important or necessary or frivolous in their day to day life. These important bits of data allow businesses and marketers to identify key new target regions for business growth, new product development  and trends that may influence how, where and when they do business.

I would encourage information professionals to explore the myriad of options available. Here are a few of my open source favorites:

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

March Business Information Review

The March issue of Business Information Review has arrived, packed with the normal eclectic mix of content. First off, is the publication of the 26th Annual Business Information Survey. 

BIR Survey 2016: a regular feature of the Journal since 1991, the Business Information survey is now the longest running continuous review of the business information sector in the world. This year’s survey is also the first to be produced by Denise Carter of DCision Consult, who follows in the footsteps of Allan Foster.  The survey reveals that soft-skills, a commercial mind-set, and a future-focussed outlook are at the forefront of skillsets required by the sector. Commercial organisations are demanding more rounded practitioners who can adapt to “internal consultant” style roles. The most valued attributes highlighted by the research include forward thinking, horizon planning, strategic thinking, and future perspectives. The survey also highlighted the value of interpersonal negotiation and networking skills, and data visualisation and packaging. 

The survey highlights a gap between the qualities demanded of information professionals in the commercial sector, and the focus of traditional library and information education programmes, including short course provision. In decline is the perceived value of “core” information skills including taxonomy and classification. Demand for traditional education and training is also declining, as commercial organisations turn to internal company “academies” or “universities” to fulfil specific training requirements. Mentoring and peer training were also commonly used as training solutions. It is essential reading for everyone involved in the business information profession. 

Social Business Adoption: An empirical analysis: also published in the March issue is a paper focussing on the adoption of social business models. Jacob Wood, Assistant Professor at the School of Industrial Management Korea University of Technology & Education, explores the perceptions of social media usage by organizations and how that can affect their take up and adoption of social media platforms.  The article focuses on organizations from South Korea and New Zealand and takes an analytical look at both the benefits and risks of using social media for organizations in order to examine motivations for and effectiveness of use.  Using technology adoption theory they identified several factors by which to measure perceived benefits and barriers to social media usage.

Searching for Talent – Information retrieval challenges for recruitment professionals: Tony Russell-Rose and his co-author Jon Chamberlin take a look at the challenges faced by recruitment professionals in searching for and sourcing suitable candidates.  In particular they look at the information challenges faced in categorizing and identification of key words to find candidates to match their skills with the most suitable vacancies.  They have interviewed recruitment professionals who have provided insights into information seeking behaviour and information search techniques.  The article looks at the complex Boolean searches that are developed, the challenges in using and maintaining them and the types of functionality recruitment professionals’ value within systems.  The article concludes with a discussion around the implications for information systems development and a balance that needs to be created between automated information retrieval and the knowledge and expertise contained within the individual professional recruiter on what search terms work best.

Modeling Customer Knowledge Management to make Value Co-Creation: In this article, Ali Gohary and Bahman Hamzelu of Department of Business Management, Qazvin Branch, Islamic Azad University, Qazvin, Iran review the importance of managing the knowledge of customers in order to anticipate customer wants and needs so as to gain or maintain competitive advantage.   They consider how Customer Knowledge Management, knowledge management applied to CRM (customer relationship management) is highly effective in the development of new products and services but is not in fact well recognised within organisations. The article reviews the processes that need to be considered as well as exploring conceptual models to gain the most from customer knowledge management.  They also explore ‘mass public education’ within customer knowledge management to enhance and develop customer interaction in the service and product development process.

Perspectives & Initiatives: Martin White returns with his Perspectives column.  His article reviews papers very topical to this month’s issue and this time looks at the effects of language on search and search behaviour.  He considers the use of both modern and colloquial languages and how that affects search results. ther papers he reviews are the usage of mobile data services for accessing information both generally and also through library services.   The need for techniques to develop information sharing between teams working in critical environments and the affects of trust in search results on the assessment of valid results.

Allan Foster brings us an interesting review in his regular Initiatives paper.  He starts with a look at the rise of digital partnerships, why they are increasing in popularity and why they are important.  He reviews pieces of research, one from EIU and one from IDC.  The research articles provide some interesting insights including some very specific future predictions on worldwide digital transformation. He also covers the value of information, how is it valued, how is that realised and provides some interesting insights from the PwC report in this area.  Whilst the valuing information is a bit hit and miss it appears organisations are investing in realising value, specifically generating revenue from their data.  Allan reviews an EIU report in this area.  There are other interesting insights from further reviews covering key future trends that could change the information industry, strong growth anticipated for the market research industry and growth of the big data technology and services sector to name a few.

You can find the issue here: