Signs of a promising future.

Author:Schachter, Debbie

It is clear that the amount of information being generated and disseminated today continues to grow. It is equally clear that, far from becoming more adept at handling all of this information, organizations are increasingly at risk of missing or misunderstanding key pieces of information that are required to maintain their competitive edge.

Ironically, those who can best help organizations manage and reduce this risk information professionals and librarians were among the first workers targeted as potentially "redundant" when the World Wide Web exploded. But we can see now, with information being generated in more ways by more individuals and transmitted almost instantaneously, that information professionals are more valuable to organizations than ever before. This fact is only slowly being appreciated by many organizations, however.

Impact of Information Overload

A direct consequence of information overload, one that further underlines the need for information professionals to assist with gathering and disseminating information, is the negative impact of too much irrelevant information on decision making. A recent article in Stanford Business Magazine titled "Too Much Information Clouds Negotiators' Judgment" notes that research has shown that "having the wrong kind of information ... can actually produce less successful negotiating results than having no information."

A similar article in Fast Company, titled "Generation Flux," suggests that businesses and industries are in an era of chaos today thanks to continued turbulence in the economy and the increasing pace of technology and information transfer, which began back in the 1990s. As the article states, "Uncertainty has taken hold in boardrooms and cubicles, as executives and workers (employed and unemployed) struggle with core questions: Which competitive advantages have staying power? What skills matter most? How can you weigh risk and opportunity when the fundamentals of your business may change overnight?"

The Fast Company article further notes that people today are more likely to have several "careers" during their lifespan than they were in the past. It also states that organizations are having difficulty keeping up not only with information, but also with the changes it often causes. This means that staying abreast of trends in information development, management, retrieval and knowledge sharing is even more essential than in the past.

If you put these two trends the growing...

To continue reading