The power of visibility can never be underestimated— especially the visibility of enterprise information— yet it's often overlooked because it's the most difficult problem to tackle among information managers.
Proliferation of disparate information sources—on-prem and off-prem, paid and unpaid— create complex silos that clog the flow of information and make information seeking activities quite time-consuming and painful.
Many knowledge workers simply adopt information seeking behaviors that align with whatever information resource is most visible and accessible at the time that they need information to accomplish their work. Leaving deeply buried or hard-to-access information that could be quite useful in the context of their work—under utilized.
This is problematic for a number of reasons, but most notably, it's fostering lazy or partial thinking. By not leveraging all of the information that might be available to help a knowledge worker (especially directors and other middle managers) contextually reach a decision or take action creates a huge risk to the competitive advantage of the organization and slows the possibility of progress.
Three ways to improve visibility of enterprise information
- Connect the information ecosystem
- Support individual preference for information engagement and context
- Measure and analyze information use to improve visibility
1. Connect the information ecosystem
Here's an example of a connected information ecosystem:
Information sources in the ecosystem:
- Internal – portals, databases, other systems of record—Sharepoint for example
- Licensed – paid publications, subscriptions, journals, CI reports
- Web – Industry blogs, curated content portals, public news sources [RSS, OPML, XML etc]
- Social – The usual suspects (twitter, LinkedIn, G+ etc) custom curated social streams or searches relevant to the work being accomplish
Connecting the ecosystem:
When you have multiple silo'd information sources, it's often difficult to connect each of them because they don't play nicely with each other—or with on-prem systems. The important factor to solve this problem is to deploy technology that is essentially content agnostic that has flexible connectors that help you stream sources of information from all of these separate systems into once place.
Demonstrated by the graphic above, Attensa is technology that connects the information ecosystem so that streams of information are available from all of your systems, in one place. Knowledge workers access a single resource and gather important actionable information and supporting their need for information quickly to make decisions and move forward.
2. Support individual preference for information engagement and context
Every individual in the enterprise engages with information differently. And with the distinct generational differences that exist, it's critical to have a device agnostic system for supporting the different ways people are comfortable engaging with information.
Information engagement behaviors are adopted through a history of methods learned throughout the work each individual has accomplished over their career. And with change being hard, a real benefit to the individual is supporting their existing engagement preferences out-of-the-box and putting them in the driver's seat to control the experience.
Information engagement behaviors to support:
- Association – example; what information are my colleagues I'm working with engaging with? I want to follow information that my colleagues are following relative to the task at hand
- Email/Text – example; I want my information briefed in an email or an SMS in the morning before 7am
- Search – example; I know what I am looking for and expect to search from one place that accesses all of the information available to me
- Discussion/comments – example; what are my peers talking about with this information? Or I have a point of view to share and want to discuss
- Sharing – example; my colleagues need to know about this information let me distribute it in context of this work
Context – it's dynamic so the information system should be too
At the core of improving visibility is context. Making information visible in the context of the work being performed among the individuals and teams who need it.
By simple means, organizing your information and individuals around specific topics or subject matter related to actual work being performed is a solution for creating context. To elaborate though, context is not static. Tasks at hand, interests, or needs are ever changing—so the information that's being provided in context is required to change also. Hence the need for a dynamic information system.
To create a dynamic system for providing information in context, not only do you need all of your information sources in the ecosystem connected, but you also need to support contextual triggers based on individual preferences. Things like user-generated tags, associations or groups, job roles, projects, outcomes, organizational structure are all important items to consider for creating context.
The challenge here is that no one individual is the same. So the system must support individual preference control to help build quality context and improve visibility of information in relation to what they need.
I'm not saying this should be a free-for-all to create context inputs for how to manage streams of information, but the system should allow for basic “on/off” functions so that users can control the information they receive—or input distinct user-generated filters or queries so that the right information is delivered in the context of the work being performed.
3. Measure and analyze information use to improve visibility
A simple solution to improving information visibility is knowing what information should be visible and what shouldn't—easy right?
I associate the proliferation of information with muddy water… it desperately needs filtering. And the filtering should be conducted by the individuals in context of when they need information.
Allowing the individual to associate what is important, what is not, while measuring or tracking those activities—along with measuring consumption of information—gives you a baseline for controlling what information remains visible.
By measuring how information is being used at the individual level, or analyzing what an individual is associating as important, it's simple to incorporate contextual filters that help improve the stream of the information they receive. Focusing the attention and delivering information in the context of their needs.
At the same time, you can uncover those sources of information that are not useful (by majority) and eliminate them from the information ecosystem. Filtering the muddy water and ensuring that—just like water quality— information quality remains high.
While the challenges of information visibility will never be solved by technology alone, information professionals should consider implementing technology that supports the three areas addressed in this discussion.
What's important here is that consolidation of information systems is largely impossible because the information that resides in them is not easy to rip and replace. So there needs to be a layer added that facilitates visibility into the information that exists in all of these different systems, and helps stream that information in context of an individual's preferences using one system. This is what Attensa can do.