BIR Annual Survey key themes 1: the challenges of new tools and technologies

The Business Information Review Annual Survey (BIR) is the world’s longest running survey of trends in Information and Knowledge Management within the commercial sector. Now in its twenty-ninth year, for almost three decades the survey has provided invaluable insight into the ways in which professional practice and the commercial context has changed. This year’s survey is due for publication in the September issue of Business Information Review and was produced again by Denise Carter of DCision Consult. It is proving to be one of the most interesting and important we have published.

Each year in the run-up to the publication of the survey, we pick-out a handful of key themes for discussion in the BIR Blog. The information and knowledge management profession has been caught on the cusp of a perpetual technological revolution that has fundamentally changed how information work is done. These changes are reflected the first of our key themes from the 2019 BIR Annual Survey: the challenges of adapting to new tools and technologies, and the emerging skills required to manage these effectively.

In 1991 when the first Annual Survey was published, adapting to technological change meant incorporating online financial and news databases (such as ICC British Company Financial Datasheets and Reuter Textline) and CD ROM services (such as FAME and Kompass). At that time only 30% of respondents were using any CD ROM services, and the numbers using online databases were dwarfed by those using traditional resources. Although information management in the commercial sector had been exploiting online resources for over a decade by 1991, it was still heavily dependent on traditional paper-based resources. The explosion of digital information since the early nineties has fundamentally changed the ways in which information work is done, diversifying the very ideas of source and resource, and increasingly requiting critical and analytical skills in the evaluation of information. The BIR Annual Survey has borne witness to these changes, and over the past five years we have also tracked the impact of emerging technology on information work, exploring fake news and post-truth, and emerging technologies such as Virtual Reality and blockchains.

The challenge of adapting to new tools and technologies emerges as a strong theme in this year’s survey, particularly in relationship to emerging Artificial Intelligence tools. But the survey also reveals how technological change is demanding new skills and competencies from information professionals and knowledge managers. No longer merely the custodians and gatekeepers of authoritative printed resources and online databases, information management has adapted from managing resources to managing both the context within which information and knowledge discovery can take place and the quality of the information on which commercial decisions are made. As the very idea of source and resource changes through the emergence of alt data and big data, the survey reveals both the changing ecology of information work and the emerging skills required to manage information in the workplace.

Luke Tredinnick

June 2019 issue now available

We’re pleased to announce that the June 2019 issue of Business Information Review is now available. This issue contains the normal mix of professional and research articles, focussed on information and knowledge management in the commercial sector.

The first article in June’s Business Information Review was written by editorial board member Denise Carter and former editor Sandra Ward. Exploring the implications of the Hawley Report originally published in 1995 but recently reappraised for its potential contribution to commercial information management strategy, the article reports on the updating and development of Hawley’s original recommendation for a modern information context. Entitled Information as an Asset – Today’s Board Agenda: The Value of Rediscovering Gold, the paper traces the ways in which the information landscape has been transformed over the last 20 years, from connectivity, to the growth of artificial intelligence, and the redevelopment of the Hawley Report for contemporary contexts. The authors write:

“Our report is intended to be transformational and a wakeup call. It provides our view of the benefits from managing information with flair, a set of principles that Boards would do well to adhere to; and a checklist to enable boards to consider the extent to which they are delivering and promoting the effective management and use of information assets.

The publication of Information as an Asset: Today’s Board Agenda by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) in February 2019 is an important landmark in commercial information management, as out first paper makes clear.

Our second article was written by Paul H Cleverley and Simon Burnett from Robert Gordon University in the UK and addressed the topical and important subject of enterprise search solutions. Entitled Enterprise Search: A State of the Art, the paper reports on interview research conducted with 18 participants from a range of backgrounds into challenges for enterprise search and future directions for development. The paper develops a four-level model for enterprise search use cases that ‘could be used to reframe how enterprise search is perceived, influencing strategies, deployments and conceptual models’.

The third article for June 2019 is entitled The Innovation Ecosystem and Knowledge Management: A Practitioner’s Viewpoint. What does Innovation Mean? Witten by Rosemary Nunn from I&K, the Information and Knowledge Agency, the paper explores the meaning of innovation in organisational contexts, and the link between innovation and Knowledge Management. The paper explains how to map the innovation ecosystem within the organisation, and uses case studies to map the impact of knowledge management on innovation.

Our fourth paper was written by Paul Corney, founder of knowledge et al, a UK-based KM consultancy, and a Knowledge & Information Management Ambassador for CILIP. The paper illustrates the importance careful planning plays in creating the right environment for face-to-face collaboration and learning, and outlines 10 virtual facilitation success factors.

Our final article for June was written by editorial board member Denise Carter, from DCision Consult, Geneva, Switzerland. Entitled Real World Experience: Lessons Learnt From My Experience of Bringing a Fully Outsourced Library Service Back In-House, the paper reflects on the ways in which early professional experiences can have an important and continued effect on our working lives. We are very grateful for Denise in contributing this paper.

You can access the issue here: https://journals.sagepub.com/toc/bira/current

 

Call for papers: The Connected Workplace

Contributions are invited for a themed-issue of Business Information Review on the topic of “The Connected Workplace” to be published in December 2019. The issue will explore emerging technology in the workplace, with a particular emphasis on human issues and the impact of technology on Information and Knowledge Management in the commercial sector. Topics of papers may include:

  • Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) or mixed reality (MR) applications in business environments; remote working facilitated through VR/AR. Training and skills requirements around VR/AR.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) in commercial settings; how AI is changing professional roles; training requirements around AI; the ethics of AI in commercial contexts.
  • Intelligent automation reshaping the way in which work gets done.
  • Collaborative software and cloud based systems in the workplace.
  • Technologically enhanced distance learning; implementing flexible working spaces; virtual offices and virtual organisations.
  • Gamification of the workplace.
  • Machine learning in business contexts

We also welcome contributions on any other aspect of emerging technology in the workplace. All papers should address the professional requirements of Information and Knowledge Management as it pertains to practice in the commercial sector.

Expressions of interest in contributing to the themed issue should be sent to the editors (via l.tredinnick@londonmet.ac.uk) by 15th May 2019 Papers should be between 3000 and 6000 words in length, and the deadline for submission of completed papers will be 01st August 2019.

About Business Information Review

Business Information Review (BIR) is published by Sage Journals and addresses information and knowledge management within commercial organizations. The journal features papers by professional practitioners and LIS researchers in equal measure, and has a strong record of encouraging and developing practitioner research. The journal also promotes evidence-based professional practice and encourages the sharing of professional expertise and experience. We aim to:

  • Report on best current practice in business information provision;
  • Evaluate business information resources and anticipate new forms of resource;
  • Highlight new professional developments and trends;
  • Scan the horizon for longer term developments.

For over forty years Business Information Review has helped develop the careers and practice of commercial librarians, information and knowledge managers, and to promote the commercial libraries, information and knowledge management sector.

Business Information Review publishes a range of different kinds of article, including:

  • Professional articles sharing professional expertise and experience
  • Research articles reporting on research projects or findings
  • Opinion articles discussing an emerging issue or controversy
  • Out-of-the-Box articles addressing technological developments

Initiatives articles addressing changing contexts of professional practice

If you are interested in writing for Business Information Review, or would like more information about the early career prize or the journal then do please contact the editors Claire Laybats and Luke Tredinnick via businessinformationreviewj@gmail.com

The issue of personalisation and its impact on KM

Author Hal Kirkwood BIR Board member, Bodleian Business Librarian, Said Business School, University of Oxford. President, Special Lib Assoc. 2019

The current state of affairs was on full display at the last (November 2018) KM World Conference in Washington DC.  I had the opportunity to attend for several days to see first-hand what is happening in the knowledge management realm.  There were many themes prevalent throughout the conference; each day consisted of 3 tracks. The Day One tracks focused on KM & Culture, Digital Workspaces, KM Tools & Tech.  Day Two tracks focused on Knowledge-Sharing Processes, Content Management, and KM Culture & Collaboration.  Key takeaways and themes were the importance of collaboration; identifying the right tools to fit the problem and your organization’s culture; designing environments, both physical and virtual, for employees and clients; determining how to transfer knowledge; developing information ecosystems; and the implementation and impact of artificial intelligence and machine learning.  The clear underlying theme is the continuing intersection of people and technology.

One aspect that is gaining traction into KM is personalization; utilizing individual user data to provide a more focused recommendation or timely suggestion. Technology, in conjunction with access to massive amounts of data, is driving momentum towards ever greater personalization.  Personalization, not customization.  Consumers become weary of making choices when these systems can make relevant choices for them based on their prior experiences.  Consumers are showing preferences towards companies that provide effective, relevant personalization.  However, since knowledge management focuses on the internal management of a company’s knowledge personalization at the employee level has been slower to develop.

Personalization has primarily been within the purview of marketing and consumer buying habits.  The power of personalization relies on a combination of data that was once inaccessible; namely geolocation crossed with purchasing habits.  It has become especially powerful when the immediacy of time is included to deliver personalized information and recommendations to a potential customer at the most optimal moment to affect their behavior.  Artificial intelligence and machine learning will make significant inroads in the personalization strategies of companies marketing plans to provide more focused experiences for customers.  1

The challenge for many companies is to scale this personalization to the masses.  AI and machine learning will increase the capacity to track multiple data points for larger numbers of customers. This will increase the expectation of customers for improving levels of service that meet their exact needs and requirements.  Evidence shows that it is highly successful when implemented in increasing sales and customer satisfaction. but that most companies are not implementing it.

Every company is now looking for ways to gather customer data that can be used to make more informed, and more specific, decisions on individuals.  Many companies are also capturing terabytes of data on customer behavior to then sell to businesses for this very reason. There is the issue however, that the attempt at personalization will be wrong based on the AI processing poor or inaccurate information.  As personalization becomes more accurate, and more ubiquitous, it will seem all the more glaring when AI-driven personalization is incorrect. Consumers are likely to feel more uncomfortable about what data is ‘out there’ on them and its accuracy, or lack thereof.  This is a complicated issue of human perception of technologically driven services.  How much control we have over all of this data is also a major concern.  In Europe, GDPR is beginning to make an impact by providing consumers with more control over what data is collected and how it is used.  It remains to be seen how exactly this will impact the data collection and utilization process. Many consumers, when surveyed, approve of the use of their data if they will receive a tangible benefit. There are some conversations taking place about implementing some form of GDPR in the United States, but little in the way of concrete details have provided.

Companies such as Netflix, Spotify, Amazon, and several other key companies are pursuing, and leading, the development of even greater data collection to develop ever more enhanced services for individuals.  Areas like physical fitness, healthcare, and personal finance are becoming driven by apps that collect personal data to then provide recommendations relevant to an individual’s life.  Consumers will allow themselves to be tracked in this way because of the return on investment of their personal data.

The majority of personalization development has been in the B2C marketplace; there will likely be increased demand for it on the B2B side.  The key element will be systems that collect client-level data that can be assessed by AI applications.  Many companies are moving into this to deliver solutions for collecting and analyzing data.  Business intelligence systems will develop as AI and machine learning are layered into them for much greater personalization of services and deliveries to corporate clientele. Companies must make the choice to implement an AI-based system to drive their decisions.  Not an easy task when it often requires a significant operational and cultural shift in how they conduct business.  Companies making this decision are likely to benefit but must be wary of the myriad pitfalls.  What ramifications this will have on the competitiveness of companies and markets, as well as within the broader business information environment still remains to be seen.

2018 a year of welcome, congratulations and goodbyes at BIR

We are just in to 2019 and already we are looking at papers and planning for the end of the year! Reflecting on how quickly things move along I thought it would be good to look back at what had happened at BIR in 2018.

It certainly wasn’t a dull year.  We had a number of editorial board member changes and were pleased to welcome Hal Kirkwood to the team who has just taken up the post of SLA President for 2019 in addition to his work with BIR and his day job as Bodleian Business Librarian at Oxford University.  We’d like to wish Hal all the best and congratulations in his new post as President of SLA.

Congratulations are also due to a past editor of BIR, Sandra Ward.  Sandra was awarded CILIP’s highest honour, an honorary fellowship in recognition of her work and many contributions to the information profession throughout her career.  In their November newsletter CILIP said “ We are also delighted to announce that Dr Sandra Ward has been recognised by CILIP for her many contributions to the Information Profession throughout her career and particularly for her fantastic contribution to CILIP’s Knowledge and Information Management Project and the launch of the Knowledge & Information Management Special Interest Group”. Congratulations Sandra from all of us here at BIR.

Thanks should also go to our board members who have retired from the board this year, Martin White and Penny Leach for their support and contributions to the journal.

We have also added to our awards section, encouraging both those starting in their career as well as the more experienced members of the profession to develop their skills and knowledge and write for the journal and be considered for one of our annual best paper prizes.  We will shortly announce the winner for 2018’s best paper prize and are actively encouraging early career professionals (first or second jobbers) to submit papers to be considered for our Early Career paper prize (launched at the end of last year) which we hope to be assessing towards the end of 2019.

Emerging technology and content buying

Author: Penny Leach, Associate Director, EBRD, and BIR Editorial Board Member

Please note this post contains the personal views of the author and are not connected with her employer.

Emerging technology and innovation are impacting content buying – and selling – in multiple ways.  This was the conclusion of a lively session held at the SLA Conference this year.  The situationis evolving rapidly, with varying levels of appetite and capacity to optimise the exciting opportunities.  As is so often the case, collaboration between multiple parties is more likely to lead to success, makingthe most of harnessing data in ways thatfree human intelligence for more value-add activity, and create appropriate commercial models.  However there are challenges and concerns – the fear of unknown costs, of loss of control over proprietary content,of missing out (and being disenfranchised) due to a lack of knowledge or resource and appropriate infrastructure, raising both private and public sector concerns.

The SLA Conference this year was held in Baltimore in June.  The Conference is a great way to meet other information professionals and other members of the information community from across the globe and build better connections in person.   Every year the SLA Leadership & Management Division’s Content Buying Section brings together an experienced panel representing different approaches in thecommunity of content of vendors and buyers, to provide reality-based insight.   This year the panellists were Amy Davis, Senior External Content Advisor at EY; Tim Baker, Global Head of Innovation at Thomson Reuters (now Refinitiv); and Bill Noorlander, Director of BST America (Conference sponsor).

The panel focussed on four emerging technologies that are creating content and new ways of deriving value from content: the Internet of Things (IoT); Data Analytics; Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Robotics Process Automation (RPA).  Early on, the largely buyside audience was reminded that content is not normally for sale but rather is leased for specific purposes – hence the complex contractual terms that are needed to protect all parties (content creator, provider and user).

Several themes emerged from the discussion,and from audience questions during the interactive session.  Generally the new content and technologiesare seen to enable several kinds of ‘smarter’, such as better client experience when deploying more visual and user-friendly products, more machine-ready data that customers can use in their own apps, and more efficient companies using their own data effectively to reduce cost (automated processes) and add value (e.g. finding more content to enrich products).

There is increasing usage of sensor-based devices in personal, industrial and civic applications (IoT).  This is creating new and extremely high volume data streams to add to the fast-growing mass of structured and unstructured data that isalready part of our digitised world.  This data ‘exhaust’, as a by-product of core businesses, offers opportunities for monetisation – for example in the financial sector– but with caveats that (as ever) mean ‘free’ is not really the case.  These alternative data sets are messy, fragmented, lack standardisation and history, and are hard both to use effectively (signals can be weak),  and to price.   For vendors, it is costly to develop and maintain new commercial offerings where client needs might be very specific.  There are hurdles, too, around data privacy and ownership, and legal terms such as the definition of users.  ‘Bots’ for example, one of the tools created by AI and an example of RPA that can free humans from repetitive tasks, may be prohibited by legacy contracts.   And just how do you count ‘eyeballs’ and fingertips?

On the buy side, the panellists concurred that it is better if multiple stakeholders are at the table – information professionals familiar with content licensing and the concept of reference interviews to articulate data needs, IT, procurement, legal advisors, and of course, the business process owners – to determine the requirement, negotiate new or amended license rights, match price to available budgets, and finally but not least, implement the new tools.

New players are emerging- new intermediary service companies such as data  ‘wranglers’ as data science and analytics skills (e.g., Quandl)  and new roles such as Chief Data Officers (CDO). More tools are needed to commoditise processes to reduce development costs and to deal with challenges.  Blockchain for example may help with the tracking of data elements.  As ever, watch this space!

Emerging skills for the information profession – The 4th theme in the BIR Annual Survey

Over the past two years Business Information Review has examined a range of emerging technologies that are beginning to impact on professional practice in the commercial information management sector. These have included smart technology, cybersecurity, Augmented Reality, and Virtual Reality. We have also explore a range of social and regulatory issues associated with emerging technology including GDPR and fake news. The information profession has become closely aligned to technological change, and information professionals have often been early adopters of new ways of communicating, managing, and finding information, data and resources.

The issue that has recurred most frequently over that time, both in the journal itself, and in the conversations that we have with professionals to discuss which professional trends the journal should be addressing, has been the growing place of Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI poses advantages as a tool in information management, but also challenges as a disruptive technology for the profession, business services, society more widely. AI has featured as a topic in the journal in March 2018, December 2017 and March 2017. And it is featured again as a dominant theme in the 2018 BIR Annual Survey, but in two ways.

In July this blog reflected on the ways in which AI is poised to transform information work and business processes. But that change and other associated technological developments pose a different set of challenges for information professionals, implying new ways of working, and an associated new set of skills and knowledge. The final theme in this year’s BIR Annual Survey reflects the ways in which senior information and knowledge professionals in the commercial sector are beginning to tackle these challenges, and confront the changing skills-set of the future information professional.

The BIR Annual Survey is the longest running continuous survey of the needs and working lives of commercial information and knowledge managers in the World. Since 1990 it has provided an invaluable insight into the changing world of Information and Knowledge Management. We like to think of it as an annual snapshot of the state of the profession. Throughout July and August we have provided a taste of the issues that are preoccupying information and knowledge professionals in the 2018 BIR Annual Survey. The final report will be published in the September issue of Business Information Review, and provides a fascinating insight into a rapidly changing profession.

Realising the value of data – Third Theme in our BIR Annual Survey

This is the third in our series of themes from the latest BIR annual survey.  The value of data is something that is constantly being discussed within organisations – How do we make the most of the data we have? How do we realise the benefits?  How do we know what we know? how do we commercialise it?

All are interesting questions and equally important.  Since the rise in popularity of ‘big data’ which started around 2005,   (we have been focussed on collating data for much longer than that but technological advancements that culminated around this time gave rise to the possibilities of gathering and making use of large and potentially disparate data sets), organisations have been increasingly looking at gathering data – on their customers, on their competitors, markets, business environments to name a few.  Within this time organisations have also been trying to figure out how they can realise the value of the data they have gathered.  Even today with advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) organisations are still struggling to assess the value of data.  If it is done correctly it can help inform strategy and investment in future business assets and acquisitions, if it is not then it can be very costly indeed.  There are a number of ways for looking at how to measure the value of data but at this time none are accepted as the way forward.

McKinsey have written articles and conducted research in this area.  They have found that those organisations that are able to leverage customer insights to inform and improve the business are out performing peers by 85% in business growth and sales.  McKinsey note that most organisations find it difficult to realise the potential value of their data because of different technologies, legacy systems and siloed working meaning that data is fragmented all over the place.  It is this situation in particular that hinders organisations taking real advantage of the data they already hold and can lead many into investing externally into research and competitive analysis in order to leverage value from data.

What is the answer?  You the information professional are the key to the answer.  An understanding of search, location and structure of the internal data as well as the context in which it was found and stored is vital to making sense of the wealth of data an organisation holds.  Jinfo reported on the importance of the information professional in Data Analytics – ready your information service (see references below) looking at the importance of source expertise for gathering and analysing external data. In gathering and analysing data context and source are key to providing accurate insights to inform organisational strategy.

Read more about what information teams are considering and doing today to have an impact on data value in our annual research report published in September’s issue.

References

https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/your-data-is-worth-more-than-you-think/

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/mckinsey-analytics/our-insights/capturing-value-from-your-customer-data

https://www.informationweek.com/big-data/big-data-analytics/how-valuable-is-your-companys-data/a/d-id/1331246

Data analytics – ready your information service https://web.jinfo.com/go/sub/report/2760

 

On hollowing out….

Author: Stephen Phillips, Executive Director Morgan Stanley and BIS Editorial Board Member

Please note this post contains the personal views of the author and are not connected with his employer.

Earlier this year Stephen Dale wrote a fascinating article on corporate memory for the May edition: “Are we destined to forget everything we already know”.  As I reflected on his narrative, I felt the need to explore this topic further, as organisations appear to have become “hollowed out” as they focus on cost to deliver short-term efficiency and opportunity.

I also felt the need to re-interpret some of the terminology used to define information, knowledge and memory.  The vocabulary for these concepts has become interchangeable in many organisations as they continue to search for increasingly challenging opportunities to realise further benefits from managing this space.

A quick search on Google (I know!) reveals the first definition of knowledge to be facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject”. Nothing contentious there, but the second definition cites it as “information held on a computer system”. The latter was a new one to me; since when did knowledge become defined as information held on computer systems?

Another interpretation rang more true to me: “awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation”.  To my mind, this speaks to the human nature of knowledge – it is much more than facts and information; it is about awareness, familiarity, experience, consciousness, perception and appreciation.  All nouns that reflect human nature and remain technological aspirations; at least for the time being.

Whilst it is important to recognise and appreciate the capabilities of the latest developments in AI, machine learning and neural processing, it is more important to recognise their limitations and appreciate the benefits associated with tenured people and their accumulated know how in their respective roles.

The most impactful force in the resizing of the business information industry has been the empowerment of “knowledge workers” to do their own information seeking.  However, investment in these workers and their information skills has lagged behind, leaving a workforce that know which buttons to press but who are poorly informed about what underpins the information and technologies they use every day.

Redundancies, outsourcing or offshoring of business information specialists compounds the issues.  New entrants that come into the industry find it difficult to secure positions with their limited experience which is incompatible with the expectation to operate at a level without the benefit of strong foundations of basic, practical information handling experience.

Meanwhile, the “new knowledge workers” increasingly rely on technology not just to bestow them with the facts and information they need but also to skilfully manipulate it into a finished product.

Does it matter?

What happens when the technology fails?  Who has the knowhow or experience to check the product is accurate and is as expected? What happens if it fails the quality check?  Who figures out what went wrong?

Technology is a wonderful thing; I really do love many new technologies.  Organisations are recognising the value of people and particularly those with tenure and the depth of understanding they bring to the business; but we cannot be complacent.  When the technology fails, there is growing dissatisfaction with the lacklustre quality of services; when a problem arises, it requires depth of knowledge and experience to fill the gap.

A number of professional services organisation have begun re-aligning their KM work with Talent Development.  Recognising that knowledge and knowhow are part of the intellectual capital of the organisation.  Acknowledging that experiential learning associated with employment is something to nurture and pass from person to person, not programmed into a machine and regurgitated ad infinitum.  This is especially the case when these standardised routines appear at odds with the need to differentiate an offer by building bespoke solutions to meet specific needs and expectations.

I remain optimistic that our industry will respond and reposition in light of continuing advances.  Unfortunately, this is only one part of the equation.  If we are to thrive, we must continually demonstrate our value to convince our leaders that we have a place in the future of our respective organisations.

2018 Annual Survey – Theme 2

In theme 2 we look at aspects of data and how the information professional can and should create an impact in this area.  I was recently reading on the Information Today blog a piece on how academic librarians in particular can take on the research and management of data.  It is an interesting piece by Andrew Cox and examines the links between data management and skills needed in a professional librarian role today.  He looks at how the importance of big data has grown from being just the level below information on the knowledge pyramid to the top consideration in enabling organisations to operate, grow and compete on the world stage.  He considers how this has come about through the effects of the rise of big data and the concerns it has raised along with the abilities it has given us to gain greater knowledge and understanding of the world around us.  Read the full article here https://www.infotoday.eu/Articles/Editorial/Featured-Articles/Academic-librarianship-as-a-data-profession-125376.aspx

 

Data governance, literacy and quality are all big featured concerns in this year’s survey.  We have seen and discussed the quality of data and information throughout the year with the rise in fake news being published not always deliberately but sometimes with a mis-understanding and mis-use of the underlying data which at the very best has led to a mis-interpretation of the data.   Also, in the news has been the reported detrimental effects of utilising machines for analysis of large data sets without the relevant context for interpretation.  So, whilst it has been feared in some circles that the rise of big data and machine search and analysis would adversely impact on jobs and employment, it turns out that library and information professionals have never been more needed in order to check the analysis and add valuable context to the data to ensure a true interpretation.

 

Understanding data, how to search for it and teaching others how to check the quality of the data they are gathering is now considered a key skill across all sectors.  Managing that data internally, creating appropriate policies to ensure that the data is not kept beyond its life span is equally important particularly with new international policies such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force.  Compliance with data regulations has taken a rise to the forefront as general public in particular have become more and more aware of data, its use and importance.  We have discussed both in the Journal and blog posts on how data has been used and mis-used to manipulate or influence situations including the impact on the American Presidential Campaign.  Information professionals have the specialist knowledge and skills to support organisations in this area ensuring the correct management of internal data, research of external data and interpretation of large data sets.

 

As specialists in this profession library and information professionals are also of great value in ensuring the ethical use of data to gain information and intelligence.  We have all read about the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal, there have also been reports about other big players including YouTube allegedly collecting and improperly using children’s data.  Any news item about the potential mis-use of data can have a lasting detrimental impact on both organisations and individuals involved.  The importance of the ethical use of data is seen in the new framework guidelines on procuring data analytics that the UK Government has produced for civil servants.  The Data Ethics Framework (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/data-ethics-framework/data-ethics-framework#the-data-ethics-workbook) highlights the focus the Government has on ensuring that the data they collect and use is done so appropriately and ethically.  There is an interesting article and commentary on the Governments data plans by Rebecca Hill in The Register here https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/06/14/data_ethics_centre_framework_government_ai_announcements/

 

Look out for what our research has uncovered specifically on these aspects of data and data management for information departments across industry sectors in September’s Business Information Review.