Category Archives: editorial board

World Library and Information Conference review

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

In August I attended the World Library and Information Congress (WLIC) of the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) in Athens, Greece.  It was my first ever attendance at this global meeting of librarians and information professionals with over 3000 attendees from 140 countries.  IFLA is a rather complicated organization of strategic programmes, sections, divisions, and special interest groups with the purpose of representing the interests of library and information science services and their users.  The development and support of libraries and librarians around the globe is a key focus of IFLA activities.

The Congress was an interesting and engaging event with its theme of Dialogue for Change resonating throughout the keynotes and sessions.  Starting out with the Newcomers Session I learned about the ins and outs of the Congress; the ability to sit in and observe any meetings; and the scope of all of the different entities within IFLA.  The sessions I attended consisted of a mix of business meetings and content-focused presentations.  Focus on the United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) filled the programme over the course of the weeklong event.  It was fascinating to see librarians from all over the world presenting on the many common challenges that libraries struggle with collection development, information literacy, technology impact, and costs while at the same time presenting on very unique situations due to geographic, cultural, or political factors. From protecting cultural heritage to providing offline access to the Internet to supporting disabled library visitors to dealing with the variety of global copyright regulations, the variation went on and on.

One of the most impressive events held during the Congress was the poster event with almost 200 posters presented covering such a wide array of topics and issues.  The scope and scale made this an information rich event to attend and showed off a tremendous level of experience and creativity. Browsing through the rows of posters and hearing each presenter explain their challenges and solutions put the diversity and depth of information professionals on full display.  Many of these librarians should consider taking their ideas a step further to write a full article on their experiences, struggles, and solutions.  The information profession will be the better for it if they were to share their accomplishments.

An amazing cultural event was held at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center for all of the attendees.  The event included a variety of food and cultural entertainment all at an amazing center that houses the opera as well as a portion of the national library.  The building itself is a stunning architectural achievement with gorgeous views of the coastline along with extensive gardens to walk through that are integrated into the overall design of the building.  It was truly something to be experienced.

Two of the most notable actions to come out of the IFLA Congress is the Library Map of the World and the Ideas Store.  The Library Map of the World https://librarymap.ifla.org/ is a data-rich graphical view of libraries and library statistics around the world.  An additional layer includes specific stories on how libraries are connecting with the UN’s SDGs to meet local development needs.  It is a very interesting project that can only benefit by additional libraries and associations joining in to provide access to broader and deeper data.  The Ideas Store https://ideas.ifla.org/ is a growing collection of ideas about libraries and information literacy to inspire and instigate action.  The Store allows you to filter by Opportunities, Idea Groups, Countries, and Regions to explore the 1200 ideas currently available.

Attending IFLA was an eye-opening experience in seeing what so many information professionals and librarians are working towards in their own regions, countries, and libraries.  The expansion and increased access to information will inevitably create greater opportunities for multitudes of people around the globe.  If you have the chance consider attending an upcoming IFLA World Congress to see the true scope of libraries and librarians.

Paul Corney – a very worthy winner of the 2019 K&IM Walford Award

Author: Denise Carter, Decision Consult and BIR Editorial Board Member

In these strange and turbulent times, we definitely need to take the time to celebrate those people who are doing excellent work. As a member of the BIR editorial board it is with pleasure that I can write one of the BIR’s frequent contributers, Paul Corney, Knowledge et al, has been awarded the 2019 K&IM Walford Award.  The Award is presented annually to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of knowledge management and/or information management. Previous winners include David Gurteen and Sue Lacey-Bryant.  As a well-respected Knowledge Management (KM) expert and guru who has certinaly made an outstanding contribution to knowledge management services, Paul is a very worthy recipient of this year’s award. 

Paul is dedicated to improving professional recognition of KM. In particular he has been recognised for his selfless i support of CILIP in its aim of becoming the UK and International professional body for KM. He  has been committed and tireless in promoting CILIP’s initiatives not only in the UK but also abroad – particularly in the Far and Middle East where he is recognised as a KM leader and has a high profile. Paul has worked as CILIP K&IM Ambassador since end of 2017. He has worked incredibly hard with CILIP to realise the K&IM Chartership as a valid option for professional registration for information professionals. By using his network and connections he opened doors for CILIP to speak to the right people at the beginning of the process and understand that there was an appetite for a Chartered KM professional qualification.

As part of the KM Chartership project board he has been able to ensure that the new programme avoids the pitfalls of some other attempts by other organisations in this space. He has also continued to promote and discuss the KM Chartership within the KM community worldwide and engage other influential Knowledge Managers to become involved with CILIP in speaking at conferences, and potentially acting as mentors or assessors for the new KM Chartership programme. He is always willing himself to mentor and nurture others in their KM work.

Along with his recent articles for BIR, Paul has written several books on KM. The most recent are Navigating the Minefield and the KM Cookbook published by Facet. In Navigating the Minefield, Paul provides a range of realistic up-to-date examples both on how to start KM in an organisation and also how to sustain KM. The examples are drawn from 18 KM programmes  from diverse organisations from across the world and provide great stories to encourage KM in organisations and there are useful anecdotes that can be re-used to sell KM in organisations. The KM Cookbook is presented in an engaging way and includes big name KM case studies and references to the appropriate parts of the ISO/BSI KM standard. As a member of the BSI KM Committee, Paul has been able to draw on his internal knowledge of the standard and its process.

BIR call for editorial board members

BIR is seeking members to join its  Editorial Board, alongside the Co-Editors of the journal. Responsibilities of the Editorial Board include:

Encouraging submissions: Encouraging quality submissions to Business Information Review helps the journal to grow in quality and reputation. As the journal is substantially based on commissioned content, an active member of the board would proactively speak to colleagues within their networks and regions to commission quality content for the journal. Please consider submitting a paper yourself to the Journal and actively encourage those you work with to

Suggesting special issues, ‘hot topics’ and review articles: Hot topics and/or review/special issues can attract more readers and citations to the Journal. If you spot any trends or areas that might help raise the profile or benefit Business Information Review please let the editors know your suggestions or submit  your own for consideration. If you know of any colleagues best suited to a ‘hot topic’ or theme, please reach out to them to see if they would be interested in participating or curating a special issue.

Encouraging usage of the Journal: Encouraging your faculty, students and other professionals to use the Journal helps librarians to decide to retain/subscribe to the Journal at your

Encouraging your institution to subscribe to the Journal: If based at an institution and it does not already subscribe, please recommend Business Information Review to your Subscriptions ensure the Journal’s commercial success and increased circulation means increased usage and citations.

Participating in board meetings: By attending board meetings we can work together to develop the Journal. Your attendance at each meeting, feedback and experience as an editorial board member are central to informing decisions about the future of the Journal. If you cannot attend please send your feedback to the Editors or

Promoting the Journal at conferences: If you are attending any conferences and would like to take copies of the Journal, or promotional business cards, please contact the Publisher and they can arrange for these to be sent to Networking with colleagues and those in similar research and professional fields about the journal is imperative to the development and proliferation of Business Information Review.

Applications are welcome from well-networked practitioners and academics in the field of information provision and management. Those interested in submitting an application should send an up-to-date CV with a statement outlining their reasons for wanting to join the Editorial Board. Being a member entitles you to a gratis online subscription to the Journal.

All enquiries, expressions of interest and applications should be directed via email to:

Claire Laybats and Luke Tredinnick, Co-Editors

Email: 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!

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.

Are we destined to always forget what we already know?

Author – Steve Dale, BIR Editorial Board

I wonder what next in the Windrush saga that has been played out in the media these past few weeks? Have we reached the final page of the last chapter now that Amber Rudd has resigned and the new broom in the form of Sajid Javid takes up the reigns as our next Home Secretary? He clearly sees a need for change, having warned the Home Office to expect an overhaul as he ditches the policy of creating a “hostile environment” for illegal immigrants and seeks to break free from Theresa May’s legacy.

But before I lose some readers who may be thinking they’ve stumbled across an editorial in the Guardian, rest assured that I don’t intend to write a political commentary on Windrush. My background is in knowledge and information management, and I think it is worth a closer look at what has played out in the Windrush saga through that particular lense.

The Home Office has long had a reputation as a “political graveyard” for ministers, and though one might argue that Mrs Rudd did not have had full control of her department, there is some evidence of basic failings in the Home Office’s administrative capabilities.

Tony Smith, a former director general of the UK Border Force has been quoted as saying:

”What has gone wrong is that a lot of the corporate memory and experience has been lost with the abolition of the immigration service and the UK Border Agency in the 2000s. Now ten years on there are quite junior caseworkers taking decisions who probably have not got much experience of the broader immigration system. They have little discretion to use their nous and common sense when faced with people without documentation”. [1]

This appears to be borne out by the ‘tick-box culture’ that pervades many government departments, where rules and instructions replace discretion and experience. It’s also a solution to lack of training and inadequate (or non-existent) knowledge transfer procedures, which are particularly important in an aging workforce or where there is a high turnover of staff.  Continuity of knowledge and experience, supported by effective and resilient information management systems are the essential components of maintaining a good corporate memory.

But what do we mean by ‘corporate memory’?

Corporate memory is the ability of an organisation to retain information to improve strategy, decision making, problem solving, operations and design. An organisation with low corporate memory is doomed to repeat the same mistakes and reinvent things repeatedly in a costly loop. The following are the basic components of corporate memory:-

  • The abilities and knowledge of employees. Knowledge that isn’t transferred or retained, such as tacit knowledge and situational knowledge, can be lost when people leave the organisation.
  • Data designed to be consumed by people. For example, a policy document or a training video. It is common for knowledge workers to produce copious amounts of documentation that is archived in a tool such as a knowledge management platform. It is also common for such information to go to waste or for similar documentation efforts to be repeated many times.
  • Information designed to be consumed by machine. Automation and decision support based on databases is a type of corporate memory that survives employee turnover. In some cases, replacing systems and changing processes results in data ‘going dark’.
  • Organisational Culture.The norms, habits and expectations of an organisation. As with the culture of a nation, this is rooted in history and serves as a stabilising force that doesn’t easily change.

It is probable that the Home Office is no worse (or better) than any other government department in maintaining an accurate corporate memory, but the Windrush scandal has briefly shone the spotlight in their direction, exposing some cultural and administrative issues. Readers of this post can no doubt think of many other examples, in government or their own organisations where mistakes have been repeated and lessons have not been learnt. But before we cast the shadow of blame on individual workers, it is worth reflecting on whether the underlying culture and values of the organisation have recognised the importance of corporate memory, and have invested in the policies, procedures and resources that will maintain corporate memory for future generations.

If not, we are indeed destined to forget what we already know!

Footnote

Background to Wind-rush

The arrival records of tens of thousands of Windrush generation immigrants, which dated back to the 1950s and 60s, were destroyed by the Home Office in 2010.  A person’s arrival date is crucial to citizenship application because the 1971 Immigration Act gave people who had already moved to Britain indefinite leave to remain. After the destruction of the archive, when an individual requested confirmation of an arrival date, Home Office staff advised there was no record of it.Immigration lawyers have repeatedly criticised the Home Office’s insistence that it is up to individuals to provide copious evidence proving their right to be in the UK. They have argued that If UK officials had kept a record of everyone granted indefinite leave to remain, the problem would never have arisen.

“Business archives are an essential part of our national story. Used wisely, the corporate memory can inspire, inform and innovate in today’s business.” Natalie Ceeney, ex-Chief Executive, The National Archives.

[1]The Times, Saturday 21stApril 2018.

Man vs. Machine vs. Data….?

Author: Penny Leach SLA LMD Past Chair 2017 and BIR Editorial Board Member

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

I recently had the pleasure of attending the 14th Perfect Information Conference (PIC2017) in Bath, England.  This annual event, hosted by the company Perfect Information (part of Mergermarket), brings together leaders and senior members of information services from within financial and professional service organisations with representatives of their content and service vendor partners.   The high number of repeat attendees confirms the conference’s value.  This year’s programme theme was ‘Man vs Machine: comrade or threat’.  For me (spoiler alert!) the whole event reaffirmed the current and future value and potential of humans in an increasingly technological world.

The conference programme includes keynote speakers, more practical workshops and hot topic think tanks (and of course some socialising!).  What seemed to me initially a rather disparate set of topics actually transitioned from the big picture of artificial intelligence (AI) and its future to more practical implications of change for businesses today.  Having worked myself for a short time at the (original) Turing Institute in the early days of AI, it was fascinating to hear where AI is today.

AI is all around us, was the clear answer from the three speakers who focused on this topic, respectively Marc Vollenweider (Evalueserve), Anton Fishman (Fishman & Partners) and Nicolas Bombourg (Report Linker).  Marc, who is transitioning from CEO to Chief Strategist of Evalueserve, spoke about the explosion of data sets, and the business value to be derived from cheap but effective analytic use cases.   Anton alluded to the ‘perfect storm’ of converging technologies that is affecting the world of machine learning.  Nicolas described Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) – where we are now (machines specialising in one are) – and how we are moving closer to Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) – machines thinking like humans – and even beyond to Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI).

Are we heading for dystopia or utopia?  There were references to sobering statistics about the predicted negative impact on job numbers, for example, Mark Carney’s speech on the  ‘hollowing out of the middle classes’ and Frey & Osborne’s research in to the future of work in the US.  Ultimately however the message was upbeat. Marc is definite that ‘insights need humans’, and has written about the benefits of combining mind+machine.  Anton referred to the opportunity for the ‘rise of humans’ that Microsoft’s Envisioning Officer has described.   The message is that technology is supporting humans, expanding our potential – AI is already invisibly enhancing our world.  This is not a zero sum game for mankind, even if it does create much management uncertainty, ethical dilemmas,  job redefinition and the need for a new ‘social contract’.

What were my key takeaways from these speakers and all the other interaction at the conference for me in my role as an information professional and services manager?

Information professionals do have roles to play in the new data economy, where the flow of data is driving innovation and growth, as long as they are open minded and upskill.  Marc has elsewhere talked about the emerging role of the information engineer in creating analytics solutions. McKinsey recently re-recognised the need for translators between technology and information, reaffirming the need to link IT, understanding of data, and business need.  Establishing the veracity of data is of course a traditional information professional skill.

Information professionals need to engage with the business, via new channels such as their workplace’s Chief Information or Data Officer (CIO, CDO) – wherever analytics are happening – and change the scope of their services to help the business build effective productivity tools and  new trigger-based workflows, and avoid data lakes that become data graveyards.

Change management is important – keeping people engaged, attracting new talent, enabling career progression, as well as ensuring effective use of the new tools and data by the business.

And for those directly engaged in buying and selling data there are reminders of the early days of the internet and outsourcing in the challenges of delivering and consuming data in new ways – for the vendors, what to build first for which client, how to protect the data, how to charge for it; for their clients where to focus efforts, who will eat the costs; and for both parties, how to deal with the increased visibility of data quality issues.

Overall the Conference ended on an optimistic note in contrast to the anxieties of the 2016 Conference (as described by in the opening session of the conference by Robin Neidorf) and inspite of the seismic political changes we have seen in the UK and USA in the last twelve months.  It will be interesting to hear how things have further changed for the attendees by the same time next year.

Let me know what you think of AI’s impact on your world.

Penny Leach

SLA LMD Past Chair 2017

New editorial board members for Business Information Review

We’re very pleased to announce that Lynn Strand and Denise Carter have joined the editorial board of Business Information Review. Both Lynn and Denise strengthen the international dimensions of the editorial board, and we’re tremendously pleased to have them involved. 

Lynn Strand is the Principal of Outside Knowledge in Minneapolis. This market intelligence practice serves clients in the technology, finance, healthcare and consumer goods industries. Lynn provides both in depth research services as well as analysis and insights to her clients. Lynn was previously with FICO, a predictive analytics company and Iconoculture, a consumer behavior insights firm. 

Lynn has been published in several information journals and was featured in SLA’s Information Outlook magazine and AIIPS’s Connections newsletter. She is currently the SLA Competitive Intelligence Division’s Chair-elect and was the SLA CID 2014 Annual Conference Planner. She also received the Division’s Outstanding New Leader Award for 2014. Additionally, Lynn is a contributor and guest editor for FreePint. Additionally, she has served SLA as a Division Chair, as a member of the 2012 Conference Advisory Committee. Lynn holds a BA in Anthropology and a Masters of Library and Information Science and executive education in Marketing. You can follow her on Twitter as @KnowledgeMama

Denise Carter is an experienced and creative information professional. She holds a Masters degree in Information Management; is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Library & Information Professionals (MCILIP); and a certified Competitive Intelligence Professional (CIP-1).  Enthusiastic for the power great knowledge and information systems can bring to a process, team or organisation, Denise has proven experience in creating and developing knowledge systems to support organizational goals and objectives.

Before setting up DCision Consult in January 2013, Denise worked for 5 years in the Global Business Intelligence department of Merck Serono, a global bio-pharmaceutical company based in Switzerland. She built and led a team: Knowledge Analytics, delivering high-quality competitive landscapes, epidemiology, and other relevant data sets, that supported commercial activities. Prior to that Denise designed and implemented a new global information unit for Serono, creating new services and resources.  She was awarded a Chief Executive Officer Award for customer service in 2006.  Denise began her career at ICI Chemicals & Polymers in the UK as a Librarian, bringing a service back in-house to support 1000 research chemists. Denise has published on different knowledge & information topics and is a speaker at international conferences. 

Both Lynn and Denise bring outstanding professional expertise to our editorial board and we’re looking forward to working with them over the coming months and years. They join our other board members who collectively have an unrivaled breadth and depth of commercial information and knowledge management practice, providing a pool of expertise on which the journal draws liberally. Our full editorial board can be found here: https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/journal/business-information-review#editorial-board. 

The first editorial board under our editorship was held in London earlier this week with members of the editorial board joining in person and via video conferencing. It was great to get some open discussions and feedback on progress so far. There were very interesting discussions around the future scope and focus on the journal which hopefully will begin to appear next year.  Updates via this blog, @BIRJournal, and our LinkedIn group.