Looking for Competitive Advantage? Talk to Your Information Manager

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Most companies face stiff competition in the global marketplace. Because organizational leaders are hyper-aware of their competitive position, they’ll readily consume information that gives them insight into their organization’s market.

What most companies don’t realize is that a wealth of information can be provided by someone they already employ: the organization’s information manager.

Content boundaries are not absolute, and if a content purchase can also be used to provide valuable new understanding outside of its original purpose it becomes more important. Being able to both point this out to budget decision makers and to potentially find and create new content advocates in diverse parts of the organization is an excellent way to defend the content investment.

An information manager’s duty is to make sure the company’s content strategy and portfolio provides the necessary information support for the company to operate. When an information manager begins to analyze content usage and performance, the benefit is two-fold: for the company, content investments become more strategic, and for the information manager, securing appropriate funding and budget becomes far easier.

The following are three ways an information manager can provide information that leads to overall company competitive advantages:

Step One: Align content position with market position

A company’s organizational structure often reflects the way it positions itself in the market. Divisions within the organization may be devoted to a specific geography, market space or customer base. If the company is public, these segments will often report out on their individual financial performance and how that performance relates to the overall revenue generation of the organization.

It is important for the information manager to understand not only where revenue is generated in the organization, but also to be able to communicate and track how the content portfolio supports these segments.

Example: If a company reports out on four segments, and two of those segments generate more than 80% of the company’s revenue, the information organization should make sure its own spend is focused most on the content that supports the information needs of the two highest revenue generating segments.

Step Two: Explore new ways of using content

Often, information is purchased in subject areas to support specific market, business or research needs. It may be technical engineering content, medical literature, patent data, merger and acquisition information, etc. This information becomes valuable because of its subject specificity and breadth of content in spaces that are critical for the organization’s competitive position.

Frequently the initial investment for the content is based on just such a targeted need.  But content boundaries are not absolute, and if a content purchase can also be used to provide valuable new understanding outside of its original purpose it becomes more important. Being able to both point this out to budget decision makers and to potentially find and create new content advocates in diverse parts of the organization is an excellent way to defend the content investment.

Tracking the use of critical sources can show how content investments can be leveraged for more than their original purpose. Monitoring the use of sources by different groups for increases in access, as well as reaching out to new groups to build new stakeholder advocacy, can help secure the ongoing investment in content that meets such a diverse set of needs.

Step Three: Track information seeking trends through content use

Information managers also have the unique ability to provide information about the organization itself. Once content usage tracking is in place, identifying trends in the company’s content seeking behavior can provide interesting insights on the issues which are currently important to the company and where the company might be heading.

One way to look at trends in information seeking behavior is to analyze new topic areas that are being researched.

Example: Researchers who explore new ideas need to read and gain background in those spaces. They may often need to request articles from unfamiliar journals, seek thesis publications or look to monographic literature. If journal content in a new subject space begins to be accessed frequently and broadly, it may signal the need to reposition the portfolio to support an emerging information need.

Ready to learn more? Download 3 Approaches to Justify Your Content Spend for steps to create a strong case for content investment.

Britt Mueller

Author: Britt Mueller

Britt Mueller is Principal of the consulting organization, InfoLiquidity LLC, which seeks to optimize the flow and financial return on information for content creators, consumers and organizations. Before she established InfoLiquidity, Britt was Sr. Director of the Global Information & Library Services department for Qualcomm, Inc. She is a long-time member of the Special Libraries Association and has served as the President of the SLA San Diego Chapter twice. Britt has participated on numerous advisory councils and is a former member of the ITIMG (Industrial Technical Information Managers Group). Most recently Britt has joined Iron Mountain’s new Library Services Business helping libraries discover new ways to manage their content offsite, and deliver digital surrogates for increased scholarly access.

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