Knowledge management is not a new process in business. Companies have always taken steps, both formal and informal, to preserve data, information, and expertise over time and across business stakeholders. The concept of information management isn’t new either; organizations have curated externally sourced information from sources like academic journals since well before the digital age.
But in today’s R&D organizations, from a strategic point of view, there is a need to rethink how we deal with knowledge and information.
Phill Jones of Double L Digital shared the results of recent interviews with individuals in the R&D information landscape in this exclusive white paper. From knowledge managers to information scientists to senior research scientists, Phill shares perspectives and strategic advice for the future of data, knowledge and information management.
In a 4IR world, there are many sources of data and information. Looking only at the most traditional measure of societal research activity – the academic journal article – gives us a sense of increasing scale. According to the STM Association, about 2.4 million articles are published every year, doubling every 18 years. Increased research spending and incentives for productivity in academia are key drivers of this trend. With 60% of federal research funding in the US directed towards the life sciences, it’s no wonder many researchers are finding it hard to keep up to date and find relevant information.
Knowledge and information managers have been steadily increasing the number and types of sources they subscribe to or license over the last two or three decades. The professionals interviewed for this paper spoke about databases for chemical structures, clinical trials information, and drug reference sources. They also mentioned drug pipeline information, patents, drug approval packages, press releases, and even financial regulatory filings. Taken together, we have a continuum of sources telling us about every stage of the drug creation cycle, from basic science to competitive intelligence and market performance.
The number of information sources of interest will increase at an ever-faster rate, thanks to 4IR. We’re seeing more non-traditional sources of data such as wearables that monitor digital biomarkers, open data repositories, population data including genetics, and a host of other data from novel sources.
As these new, non-traditional sources proliferate and diversify, they will create novel and difficult to predict opportunities and challenges. There’s a particular challenge around integrating this data. An interviewee that works at the management level in an information group at a pharmaceutical company said:
..most pharma companies have bioinformaticians and information scientists… I think you’ll find that most companies are doing it [using non-traditional sources], and looking at more analytical ways of doing things, but it may be separate from the information group.
As each new information type comes online, knowledge and information managers need to take a central role in defining new workflows to ingest and curate these data sources. Most importantly, they need to think about how these new data formats can be integrated without adding to workflow burdens for themselves or the researchers they support.
About Double L Digital
DLD is owned and operated by Phill Jones PhD, who has a decade of experience bringing innovative products to market. Prior to founding DLD, Phill was the CTO at Emerald Publishing. He has had a series of roles at Digital Science (DS), including a senior role in the DS Consultancy. He also leads thought leadership efforts for publishers, and developed patron driven acquisition and article syndication business models. Phill was the first Editorial Director at Journal of Visualized Experiments and is an influential thought leader in the scholarly communications technology sector. Areas of expertise include product and technology strategy, market-led digital innovation, and the changing landscape of academia. Phill is a former cross-disciplinary researcher. He received a PhD in physics from Imperial College, London and held a faculty position in neuroscience at Harvard Medical School.