For the past six months my team, and Forrester at large, has invested a lot of time in better understanding the different roles we serve with our research. On my team alone, we interviewed over 25 clients across industries and geographies about their careers, interests, aspirations, projects they work on, and who they work with. Having been an avid reader of Forrester’s research reports prior to joining the company in 2005, this was an interesting exercise. Why? Because when you manage technology programs inside a company, it’s very easy to assume that the rest of the world looks the same as it does within the four walls for of your organization. In fact, when it comes to information and knowledge management, there’s a great deal of difference across companies.
We spoke with a broad set of people including what I’d call IT business relationship managers, IT solution architects, library and information specialists, and records and retention management professionals. All of these people are involved in running or participating in initiatives involving content management, collaboration, search tools, portals, and enterprise 2.0 technologies. Among others, the themes that stuck out were:
Significant differences in how strategic I&KM is to different organizations. While we didn’t interview a large enough sample to generalize about entire industries, those people we spoke to in the public sector, financial services, consulting, and life sciences clearly viewed their role as highly strategic to their organizations. One person described her value add very simply: “We help connect people to people, and people to information.” In a human capital-intensive consulting organization, this meant accessing expertise and connecting with clients via social networks. For a public sector practitioner, it was about providing self-service access for citizens to vast libraries of government-collected transportation data. The result: We plan to look more deeply at how I&KM processes, technologies, and best practices are applied in different business contexts in 2010. This will include a series of case studies that look at the most common sourcing models, skills, and technology products supporting I&KM objectives and how these align to business capabilities.
Software tools selection is one of many challenges for I&KM professionals. At Forrester, we invest heavily in research about specific software technology markets. But we learned that our senior-most I&KM leaders face far more challenges than technology selection alone. Top of the list were managing programs across multifunctional teams, allocating scarce IT resources, aligning I&KM technology roadmaps with business needs, and working effectively with third-party vendors and consultants. The result: In 2010, we’ll look at emerging roadmaps for products like Cisco's WebEx Connect, IBM LotusLive, Microsoft Sharepoint 2010, EMC CenterStage and more. But increasingly, we'll also look to publish research on the ecosystem of cunsultants and systems integrators capable of delivering solutions on top of these toolsets. Also expect to see continued coverage of alternative delivery models – like cloud-computing services, appliances, and mobile devices – hit our research agendas as more of our clients sort out the economics, benefits, and risks of running different information management workloads in these ways.
I&KM professionals measure success based on delivery, adoption, and satisfaction. Perhaps it's the challenge of measuring specific business outcomes that come from information management technology investments that makes these metrics so attractive. Many of the people we interviewed asked for more data on how their peers were doing against project timelines, tools use by businesspeople, and levels of satisfaction. The result: We plan to continue our research stream into the needs, attitudes, and technology behaviors of information workers. Our most recent reports, “Harness The Power of Workforce Personas” and "Why Care About the Needs and Attitudes of Information Workers" look at how and why information workers use software tools and devices for work.
I hope you found this helpful. As you think about your own priorities in 2010 and beyond, I’d be interested in any other ways you think Forrester can help. Feel free to comment here, or contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.