The Doubling Digital Universe: Info Profession’s Time to Blossom

If you look on the left side of this post, you’ll see a little a counter incrementing at a rapid rate. IDC is highlighting its latest 2011 Digital Universe Study with the World Information Growth Ticker. Look at those numbers whirling by! That’s a live look at how information doubles every 2 years. Doubles.

And yet the investment in structures, staffing & security isn’t keeping pace.  IDC has been studying digital information for years; you can either read the paper or view the videos on the site — pick one & do it. We are in the information profession, and we need to be aware of these considerations for the information sector.  Librarians in the public and academic sector take note: this isn’t just about “organizational information” — often seen as the domain of records managers, knowledge managers, CIO’s, IT and information managers.  This is about information – and as the lines blur between information containers, publishers, creators, curators, “published” content, “unpublished” content – you name it — the roles, responsibilities and considerations of all those in the information profession also blur – or blossom, depending on your perspective.  For Jane & I? It’s a time for the profession to blossom.

Here’s an excerpt from the study’s Call to Action:

“Since 2007, IDC’s Digital Universe Study has highlighted the mismatch between the rapid growth of the digital universe and the very slow growth of staff and investment to manage it. This year, the study highlights an additional issue that promises to define for CIOs and business executives much of the next 10 years of their careers: the mismatch between the value of some data and the value of other data. In the digital universe, it is now possible to run factories from afar, tap vast stores of social networking traffic for meaning, analyze customers in efficient ways that were impossible even a few years ago, and create smart cities, buildings, and homes. But this requires sifting through the data molecules (while they exist) in the digital universe to identify the ones that matter and creating organizational value out of them.And there’s the rub. CIOs and their staff may be able to manage the new tools of search and discovery, information classification and management, information security, and even information disposal, but organizations have to be prepped and ready to deal with the nuggets that can now be pulled out of the digital universe.

So the call to action from this year’s study has two components — one technical, one organizational.

The technical calls to action are:

  • Investigate the new tools for creating metadata — the information you will need to understand which data is needed when and for what. Big data will be a fountain of big value only if it can speak to you through metadata.
  • Move what you can to the cloud — it’s inevitable. But it will require a new level of commitment and rigor toward managing the process. It’s more than simply an outsourcing contract.
  • Stay very close to the latest information security strategies and practices.
  • Be aggressive in developing and managing advanced storage management tools.

The organizational calls to action are:

  • Set the strategy and build, with other C-level executives, a process for migrating to shared resources — virtualization today, public and private clouds tomorrow. This will take leadership, coercion, cajoling, and politicking.
  • Begin laying the organizational groundwork today with the specific analytical and managerial skill sets, mindsets, and processes necessary to extract the most value possible from big data.
  • Work to make your company a data-driven organization. New tools — from smartphones and iPads to executive dashboards and real-time business intelligence — can make this easier, but the blessings of the digital universe will be lost on the organization that won’t take action based on what the data tells it. If you don’t, you can be sure that the competition will.
  • Press your suppliers and business partners to help. We are still coming out of a global recession, but we are 10 years into a technology renaissance. Companies that aren’t at least fast followers of those pushing the envelope of data and information utilization and management will simply fall behind.The combination of post-recession business growth, a technology renaissance, and the growth of the digital universe this next decade creates a once-in-a-career opportunity for CIOs and their staff to drive change and growth for their organizations. The growth of the digital universe may be a challenge, but it is also a propellant for new and exciting uses of data.”

IDC 2011 Digital Universe Study


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