What will it take to be a NextGen InfoPro?

Topics: Records management

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The information management landscape is changing at an exponential rate, putting new demands on how we are required to manage all of our information across the enterprise, and beyond. This includes information placed out on social media channels, stored in the Cloud, the capture and access of information by a mobile workforce, and an array of new technologies invading the workplace through corporate control or Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) approaches.

NextGen InfoPros must be aware of and anticipate these changes along with the impact they will have across the organization. Gone are the days of reactive information management. From today forward, information professionals must become proactive in managing information, leveraging technology, participating in security and privacy activities, improving operational efficiencies, and extracting greater benefit from corporate and external information stores using data analytics. Not only must information be kept in ways that meet compliance and security requirements, it must also be made available in ways that it can be re-purposed and shared with others for the benefit of the entire organization.

In the same way that interventional medicine is able to address a situation before it becomes a serious issue, so too must the NextGen InfoPro be prepared to address potential issues and work to intervene any negative outcome. This requires a specialized set of operational skills alongside acquired knowledge of the current and evolving technology sets.

In this report, we look at the expectations organizations have of their information professionals over the next three to five years, how respondents see themselves in relation to these growing expectations, and the steps they can take to gain the requisite skill sets to remain relevant.

Key Findings

  • Looking out over the next 3 – 5 years, risk, security and data privacy top the list of desired skills for 50% of organizations. Not far behind are content and records management at 47% and analytics of data, content, and metadata at 44%.
  • The most sought after capabilities focus on accessibility (53%) that includes use of mobile devices. Data quality management, data cleansing, and migration are next (49%) followed by information security and access control (42%).
  • From a project standpoint, content and records management is the focus for 40% of organizations over the next 3 – 5 years. 39% of respondents cite business process management (BPM) and 31% see information and capture as their main focus, indicating the desire to address end-to-end operational goals.
  • 52% of respondents say that skills related to the translation of business requirements into the more tactical side of implementation will have the greatest impact on their content management projects over the next 3 – 5 years. 46% see compliance skills as having the greatest project impact and 45% will seek talent to assign value to information and data.
  • 32% of our respondents see taxonomy and metadata design – providing structure to their information sets - as the greatest technical skill set for their organizations. In equal stature, information security and process analysis fall into second place at 30% each, while 29% cite application and process integration as the greater demand for their organizations.
  • The demand for technical knowledge focuses on information security systems and procedures for 68% of respondents, acknowledging that technology alone will not suffice when it comes to protecting corporate information assets. 60% cite Enterprise Content Management (ECM), Document Management (DM), and Records Management (RM) systems knowledge as key while 53% are concerned with use of mobile devices.
  • Organizational expectations are much broader and include soft skills like innovative thinking (70%). Along with this, change management (70%) and relationship management that encompass internal and external parties are now part of an expected skill set provided by information professionals.
  • When it comes to skills improvement, 79% of respondents see themselves as taking a proactive position, with just 8% happy as they are. For the most part, our respondents have the desire and drive to enhance their skills rather than wait for someone or something to come along and be presented to them.
  • When rating their skill levels from a technical perspective, many feel they are “very to extremely strong” in content and records management (71%), and BPM (56%). The weakest areas for our respondents, and greatest areas for professional enrichment, are in predictive analytics (8%) and social and mobile integration (12%).
  • The method of choice for professional development is through online learning programs (52%), supporting the flexibility aspect of self-learning and course engagement. Professional conferences are the venue of choice for 45% of respondents, serving as a combined forum providing educational sessions, supplier interaction, and peer-to-peer networking opportunities.
  • It is encouraging to see that 53% of organizations are very active (25%) or somewhat active (28%) when it comes to support for professional growth. The indication being that organizations recognize the value of their employee base and the benefit to be gained from the investment made in their professional development. Only 4% say they receive no support at all.
  • Fifty percent of our respondents feel their organizations should proactively seek and identify SMEs who would then be positioned as mentors. 49% say the organization should seek out more specialized training with 42% indicating that greater participation at the project level would meet their growing professional development needs.

Future Needs

The NextGen InfoPro will be recognized and accepted as an information and data lifecycle subject matter expert (SME). Traditional skills, such as policy development, oversight of retention and defensible disposition programs, and compliance monitoring must be joined by knowledge in related information technology fields, change management, and process management. NextGen information professionals must be in a constant state of educating themselves and their constituents on the latest technology developments and how they impact their organization. They must be prepared to leverage their subject matter expertise, and present their opinions about technology, data analytics, metadata management, security, privacy and more, to senior management, business managers, and project teams.

A mixture of learning modes must be taken advantage of in order to achieve a higher level of credibility and longevity within an organization. These include but are not limited to formal education programs, conducting research on various topics, attending webinars and professional events, and engaging in vendor or supplier training programs.

Looking out over the next 3 – 5 years 50% of responding organizations see skills in risk management, security, and data privacy as being the most desired or valued. This strongly reflects the recent increase and significant impact of data breaches and leaked content on corporate brands and governments. For 47% of respondents, content and records management skills remain the most desired, while 44% see analytics of data, content, metadata and more, as a critical talent expected from their information professionals.

When asked about future roles, 44% of our respondents see themselves evolving into the broader role of “information management professional.” Significantly less will remain content and records management professionals (20%), while only 10% have set a goal of becoming knowledge management professionals. In each of these cases, familiarity with many information management and governance practices and technology capabilities is required to be proficient

While security and risk top the list of desired skill sets for information management professionals, the greatest capabilities desired by organizations focus on information accessibility and delivery which includes use of mobile devices (53%), acknowledging the growing trend of mobile device use and acceptance of BYOD (bring your own device). While this appears to be an anomaly, it can be explained in that skills are learned and when applied, become a capability to make things happen.

Data quality management, data cleansing, and migration follow at 49%, aligning with organizational goals of increased findability and usability of valuable business information. Rounding out the top three is information security and access control at 42%, signaling the increased awareness and movement in securing corporate information assets while providing controlled, authorized access to these resources. This also aligns with the desired skill sets related to security and risk discussed earlier.

Turning our attention to upcoming or planned projects, content and records management continues to be the focus for 40% of organizations over the next 3 – 5 years. Interestingly, 39% of respondents cite BPM and 31% information and capture as their focus. This indicates the desire to address end-to-end content-related processes, beyond just records, that meet and support operational objectives and goals. This also indicates a growing awareness that the increasing generation of data and information is becoming more complex and difficult for individuals to manage. Future information management practices will require intelligence to be built into workflows and automated tagging tools to manage risk, cost, and value.

When asked about perceived project management skills needed to successfully complete projects from beginning to end, the ability to translate business requirements into practical implementation tops the list for 52% of our respondents. This is an indication that project success begins by aligning functional and technical requirements with the identified business requirements to resolve business problems. It is at this convergence where the information professional should be positioned in support of these activities.

For 46% of respondents, being able to ensure legal and regulatory compliance has the greatest project impact. Forty-five percent indicate that knowledge related to the identification and assignment of value to information and data has the greatest impact on content management projects, as it will facilitate data analytics, search, and access. Both of these support the concept of business value in information that is securely managed in support of required compliance standards, rules, and regulations.

Realization has set in for 40% of organizations, that there is a need for improved information governance, content and records management practices (35%), and retention and disposition practices (33%). Again this reflects a greater awareness of the need for lifecycle management of all data and content, not just records. This requires collaboration across and between many business functions to ensure a sustainable information strategy is developed, implemented and maintained. As a result, we see a rise in the need for individuals to be held responsible and accountable for information governance, perhaps taking the form of an Information Governance officer or manager. The reference to practices infers that organizations are looking beyond technology, to include people and processes as part of their overall information strategy

While there are those who feel that the need for a formal information management structure is fading, 32% of our respondents see taxonomy and metadata design that provides structure to their information sets as the greatest technical skill required for their organizations.

Information security and process analysis fall into a close second place at 30% each, while 29% cite application and process integration as the greater demand for their organizations which strengthens the premise that the greatest value from information is gained through organization, control, and integration throughout the organization and across operational processes.

Expectations are high regarding the level and importance of technical knowledge an information management professional brings to an organization. Information security systems and procedures top the list for 68% of organizations which acknowledges that technology alone will not suffice when it comes to securing and protecting corporate information assets.

60% cite ECM/DM, and RM systems knowledge as key while 53% are looking at mobile devices use. The latter supports the recent rise of the Chief Mobility Officer (CMoO) in some larger organizations.

As earlier findings in our research have indicated, technical skills alone are not the only requirement placed upon the information professional. Organizational expectations have broadened to include soft skills such as innovative thinking (70%), change management (70%), and relationship management that encompass both internal and external parties.

These are now expected skill sets for information professionals due largely to the need for cross-functional teaming and facilitation of various projects and enterprise or global level information management programs.

Personal Perspectives

With organizational perceptions of the future identified for the information professional, we now turn our attention to the individual for their assessment of where they fit into the equation. We look at their perceived capabilities and strengths, and identify areas of improvement necessary to meet future demands.

Not surprisingly, respondents indicate strengths in content and records management, BPM, taxonomies, and other areas in which they have been involved for years. It is also of little surprise that these individuals indicate a lack of comfort in the areas of data analytics, security, risk, privacy, and social/mobile usage - all areas that organizations have expressed their skill set expectations for the future.

When asked about the role they play in proactive participation in the search for additional professional skills training, 79% say they are proactive while 8% assert strongly that they are not.

For the most part, our respondents have the desire and drive to enhance their skills rather than wait for someone or something to come along and be presented to them. They are taking control of their careers, seeking opportunities and ways to enhance their skills.

Turning our attention to professional enrichment, 45% of respondents indicate they take online training courses: 4% from academic institutions and 41% from independent sources that include associations and private training firms.

A far smaller amount (19%) seek out subject matter experts for advice and mentoring, while 18% use industry and professional events as their source of learning. The latter percentage may be low because of lack of budget to attend such programs even though they are seen as valuable venues for networking with peers and subject matter experts.

Rating their skill levels from a technical perspective, many believe they are “very to extremely strong” in content and records management (71%), and BPM (56%). The weakest areas for our respondents, and greatest areas for professional enrichment, are in predictive analytics at 8%, (the weakest point within the realm of analytics for many organizations) and social and mobile integration (12%) which has been identified as a growing concern and requirement for many organizations. In between the strengths and the weaknesses in skills lie analytics, digital preservation, and security and privacy all of which are integral to managing and leveraging an organization’s information. The message for the NextGen InfoPro is to enhance their skills in these job-affirming areas.

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