[Online Information 2005] Bob Boiko

In the end, there was only one session that I managed to take notes in as my head got full of cold and my throat needed constant sipping of warm fluids to keep me going. So I listened on Tuesday to Bob Boiko, author of The Content Management Bible and all-round sound as a pound chap on things dear to my heart (in particular urging information professionals to get talking about information again rather than ‘content’).

His presentation was entitled: What every exec should know about information management and my notes follow.

Extremely frustrated when working with clients over the years – most problems aren’t things that practitioners can really do anything about. We have lots of ideas, but there are people who are supposed to be able to tell you what the goals are, but this is the biggest gap in Information Systems. So this is what you should tell them (or somehow influence or convince them of to escalate the concepts up to the people who need to know)

Information management not content management

Putting the IC back into ICT – Information, Communication and Technology – everyone’s trying to communicate, figure out how to talk to each other, who’s got it who needs info. But people hide behind technology, infrastructure or products rather than deal with the real issue – what’s the valuable information, who needs it and how do we get it to the right people in the organisation. Reframe everything you do into that context – it’s all about that aim. It’s not about content – it is about information, so take back the word – get it back from the information technologists who might not actually deal with *information*. Talk about information & communication. What is important? How many meetings do you have that talk about this, rather than choosing products and differences between applications. So challenge executives to behave as if you really were about information and communication supported by the technology rather than the other way round.

Not trying to convert us – just trying to give people here passionate arguments for doing the right thing.

Take the long view – it may be the end of your career and you’re still being asked to talk about the implications of technology. But this is still an interesting field – we’re still working it out, we don’t have it all sorted yet and it will take time.

What does it mean for a piece of information to be valuable. Are we in an information age? No not yet, we’re still wannabe’s: Imagine an info supermarket – you look at the labels on piece 1 and piece2 and you decide you want 1 but it’s too expensive so you keep looking. We can’t actually do this – we have some idea of the value of tangible objects, but it’s still very difficult to put a price – how would you have a dialogue in your corporation about the value of a white paper. Bob thinks we will get there, but only if we all start working on the problem now. So far, we can do something with relative value, but absolute is too hard. Also value isn’t only monetary.

Find allies in other people who are working on communication.

Study information – how do people look for it, what makes it good, who gives and who gets, what’s worth the expense? How much do you actually know about it – did you study at university? have you studied it since? One of the things we focus on is structure and this is something we tend to own – this is good, but there are other areas, that we still don’t really know about. Keep saying that it’s a profession in itself, people need training in it – it’s not a sub-topic of management or technology.

Create a strategy for information – how do you know what it should be? Well whatever it is you need to do it, you need to have one. If Knowledge is Power then why don’t we have a strategic approach to information – how are we going to use it. MOst people would tacitly agree, but they would have no idea how – maybe they could look to you. Basic point is If we deliver the right information to the right people in the right way it will help us meet our goals. There are no villains here, it’s that they really don’t know – it’s not neglect it’s lack of understanding – this is a whole new idea, a new discipline. Either get a strategy, or quit saying Information is Power, because you’re not behaving as if it were. Bring this contradiction up, talk about it, work out whether and how information is valuable to your organisation.

So ye executive types: Lead, Damn it! Lead your team, your peers, your bosses, their bosses. Please give us leadership – tell us why we need an intranet or whatever it is that people say they want you to build. What are we going to get from it – when you tell me then I might tell you that we should do it in a different way than you think.

Bob recommends http://www.cmprofessionals.org/

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