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The Social Enterprise: Where Does the Information Professional Fit?
November/December 2014 Issue

Jumping In With Both Feet

But despite these opportunities, there isn’t much evidence that information professionals are picking up this gauntlet or even being asked to play a meaningful role in their organizations.* Why is this the case? Some of the reasons will sound familiar: upper management not recognizing the value and potential of the information center, stretched resources, and competing priorities, to name a few. But those are all factors primarily outside of your control. What are some things within your control that you can do to become a player?

First, you need to feel comfortable with social media. Wilkins said, “If you don’t know at least superficially how it works, how on earth can you guide your organization in how to use and manage it effectively?” To claim pride in ignorance (as in smugly announcing, “I don’t do Facebook”), he added, approaches “professional malpractice.”

Second is the need to reskill where needed. Social is not the same as Big Data, but it can be closely connected with processes that can and do overlap. For that reason, Kane advises librarians to “develop skills in data analytics.” In the last couple of years, library and information schools, including Syracuse University and UC–Berkeley, have introduced certificate and online courses designed specifically to help information professionals learn how to perform data analysis.

If you can’t get up to speed quickly enough on data analytics, you might consider another option: Partner with an existing department that’s already doing data analysis. That’s what Vicki Valleroy, manager of Boeing Library Services at Boeing in Seattle, did when she set up a pilot program with her company’s research and technology organization to work together on data analytics. (An interview with Valleroy about this partnership was published in the December 2013 issue of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research.)

Finally, perhaps the ultimate advice comes from Kane. He advises information pros simply to have a willingness to step forward, expect their roles to evolve, take a leadership stance, and then “jump in with both feet.”

Ultimately, much of what is happening at the intersection of social and Big Data is also about the future of work, and that means building a smarter and more humane workplace. And if anyone needs to have a strong voice in creating this future, it’s you!

*If you are doing this for your organization, we would love to hear from you!

Further Resources

To learn more about the social enterprise and the role of the information professional, I recommend the following resources:

Geoffrey Moore, “Systems of Engagement and the Future of Enterprise IT: A Sea Change in Enterprise IT”

AIIM’s “Social Business Roadmap 2011”

AIIM’s Social Media Governance Training Program

“Moving Beyond Marketing: Generating Social Business Value Across the Enterprise,” MIT Sloan Management Review, July 2014

David Weinberger, “Library as Platform,” Library Journal, Sept. 14, 2012
Here, Weinberger looks at the role of libraries in building an engaged knowledge network to house the smart organization. In the Jan./Feb. 2013 issue of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, Weinberger said that in the smart organization, “the life of the knowledge will not be in the heads of the people populating the network, but in the network of links itself.”

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In addition to being co-editor of The Information Advisor’s Guide to Internet Research, Robert Berkman is author of Find It Fast: Extracting Expert Information in the Age of Social MediaBig Data, Tweets and More, 6th edition. (2015, CyberAge Books).


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