The UK economy is – once again – ‘in recession’. Times are hard, and service departments and cost centres need to be able to prove that they are directly contributing to the wellbeing of their organisations. What messages should information professionals share with senior management to demonstrate how business information enhances our organisations? This was a key question tackled by those attending Aslib’s second Business Information Community of Practice (BICoP) meeting in London this week.
It is critical to understand what it is that your organisation values and to ensure that services support these key values. Do you attend the meetings that mean you know what deals are going on? Some delegates recommended ‘forcing yourself’ into these meetings until colleagues recognise the value of your attendance! Provide support for all key business processes from business pitch to deal closure.
Decision makers and influencers
Can you identify all of your organisation’s champions and budget holders? What processes do you have in place to listen and respond to your organisational clients? Does the CEO know who you are? Do you act like ‘other departments’ – do you have a retreat, and a training budget?
The gathering and broadcasting of real examples of business impact should be a clear imperative. How are you tracking the beneficial use of data and information provided by your team? The creation of ‘annual reports’ with statistical information about impact of services is one option discussed.
Information management is key to managing both financial and reputational risk. The cost of non-compliance and under exploitation of resources and poor competitor intelligence should help colleagues focus on the value of BI services.
Quality assured information
The use of quality sources needs to be promoted within the organisation. Senior partners and colleagues may be using inappropriate free information sources – although not all free resources are necessarily poor quality. Kitemarking or ‘indemnity assured information sources’ are options. Information professionals should be driving increased information literacy within their organisations.
The challenge of demonstrating value is ongoing and should be a constant concern to business information professionals. This is a subject we can be sure that BICOP will return to in the future as we seek to learn from each other what works – and what doesn’t – in the ongoing battle to help our organisations thrive.
A Community of Practice brings together individuals with a common interest or purpose and enables them to develop and advance their skills on both an individual and collective level.
Aslib’s new Business Information Community of Practice (BICOP
) sets out to help promote and share good practice in searching for, exploiting, and managing business information.
The inaugural meeting (22 February 2012) was held at City Business Library (CBL).
Attendees networked and heard two presentations – one on career development by Jeremy Clarke of Sue Hill Recruitment and one by Goretti Considine, Business Librarian at City Business Library.
She spoke about engaging user communities, stretching service offerings and marketing a service.
The City Business Library
is a public library with a target market of SMEs, business start-ups and individuals.
Having moved to the Guildhall complex in the last 18 months, its new location has helped to raise the Library’s profile.
The Library space is also a great venue, and recent successes in building this part of the service mean CBL hosts anything up to 80 events a month.
However, what has really contributed to the ongoing success of the Library is the zero-budget advocacy and marketing undertaken by the staff. A mixture of continuous networking, clarity in the marketing messages, approachability and some risk taking have helped the Library to find sponsors, new customers, speakers, trainers and vocal supporters.
Lessons from Goretti
- Attend as many networking events as possible – even ones which seem marginal
- Have a great opening line (Goretti uses “you can’t afford not to talk to me” and has a follow up elevator speech ready
- Don’t go anywhere without your business cards!
- Don’t be afraid to stretch yourself – the Library now offers a Job Club for example
- Take risks and remember “If you don’t ask, you don’t get”
The evening was introduced and concluded by Graham Coult, the editor of Managing Information. The enthusiastic networking of the delegates show that there is great enthusiasm for business-focused networking opportunities.
The MCB Group, the holding company of the Emerald publishing group has announced that it has acquired Aslib.
Emerald states that it intends to carry out consultations with current and former members and others but that it plans to build a ’21st century membership organisation’.
This seems an excellent time to alert our subscribers to an article due to appear in our June issue. Written by Oriole Newgass, the article considers the role of professional associations and membership organisations for information professionals. Oriole analyses both successes and failures and recommends some radical ways forward for high value professional associations.