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The Changing Role of the Information Professional

AIIM, the Association for Information and Image Management, believes the role of information professionals is changing rapidly.  To quote from a recent report:

“New models require smaller teams made up of multi-taskers and multi-dimensionally skilled workers with subject matter expertise, business savvy, technology skills, and a range of appropriate interpersonal and “political” skills”.

This view is certainly consistent with the received industry wisdom but is there a way to empirically test such beliefs?  Here’s one approach:  The School of Information at San Jose State University investigated job postings for information professionals and measured how specific job requirements are changing over time.

Data points from the survey

A couple of interesting data-points from the survey (conducted in 2014):

  • 51% of information professional job postings require applicants to have significant technological skills. This is up from 32% in 2013.
  • 70% of listings emphasized ability to use statistics or analysis. This is up from 21% in 2013.

These are pretty dramatic shifts — check out the survey for more information. I like this simple methodology – it’s a great attempt to quantify what most industry observers believe: that the role of the information professional is changing to become more strategic, more analytic and more tech-savvy.

Why is this happening?

This change is taking place for a few well-known reasons:

  • Increased awareness that information truly is a vital competitive advantage.
  • Acknowledgement of the huge — and rising — volume of information available to all users at the click of a mouse.
  • Increased concern regarding the amount of time and resources users are spending to find information that is relevant to them.
  • Availability of new technology and tools that empower the information professional to go beyond simply managing information and to start creating organizational intelligence.

Organizational Intelligence

What do we mean by organizational intelligence?   We mean the right information, delivered to the right people, at the right time, and in the right context. An intelligent information management process doesn’t merely result in people wasting less time searching for information. The real value is in enhanced collaboration, faster insight and better decision-making. And in understanding how information is being consumed in the enterprise: where it comes from; what it costs; who is using it; and how to improve it.

C-level Expectations

This is what C-level executives now expect of their information professionals. And this is why the skillset of information professionals is changing as the San Jose study suggests. More strategic, more analytic, more tech-savvy.

As noted author Geoffrey Moore (Crossing the Chasm) says:

“There will always be a role in organizations for those with pure technical knowledge. But the real value-add in the world of Systems of Engagement comes from those who can place these skills in a broader context — in the context of the business.”

Or, to quote from another recent industry report (FT-SLA):

“Now is the time for the information profession to reach for new heights”.

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