Digital archivists and business information managers in demand according to Gartner, Inc. February 2, 2010

It was interesting to note this week that according to Gartner, Inc., a research and advisory firm, organisations will increasingly need to recruit staff with a mix of IT and information management, recordkeeping and archives skills in order to cope with the need for trustworthy and reliable business information amongst huge volumes of digital information, and to avoid unmanageable backlogs of unnecessary information.
Creative Commons License photo credit: mtowber
Gartner have identified four information-management roles that IT departments need to establish and recruit from outside the IT team:

  • Legal and IT hybrids
  • Digital Archivists
  • Business Information Managers, and
  • Enterprise Information Architects

According to Gartner:

Organisations need staff with different skills from the ones they were originally hired for. These are not IT people as organisations know them. “Staying relevant in this changing environment will require a new way of thinking about organisational models and staffing in IT projects,” added Ms Logan. The four job roles that IT will need to support within the business or within IT are:

Legal and IT Hybrids
Gartner predicts that 20 per cent of Global 2000 companies will add the role of litigation support manager by 2010, up from less than 5 per cent in 2005. Legal and IT hybrids create policies and schedules, help design and execute discovery exercises for regulators, and mediate between legal and IT departments. Organisations can fulfil the role by retraining security professionals in law or giving legal professionals some IT training.

“IT leaders with responsibility for information management have been in a stalemate for more than five years over what to do about legacy information, how long information should be kept, and what the legal precedent is for doing so,” said Ms Logan. “The lawyers won’t tell companies what to do, but they won’t listen to anyone but other lawyers. The records managers want to implement retention schedules as they did in the paper world, and IT departments just want someone to tell them what to do with all the e-mail that is bringing their exchange servers to their knees and all the personal folders clogging the storage devices.”

Digital Archivists
Digital archivists will be required to appraise, arrange and preserve digital records for legal and regulatory purposes. Gartner expects around 15 per cent of companies to add a digital-archivist role by 2012 compared with fewer than 1 per cent in 2009. Suitable candidates can be found in library and information science (LIS) schools or existing employees nearing the end of their careers.

“Organisations typically have vast quantities of records, which require specialist expertise to access, appraise and preserve,” said Ms Logan. “This isn’t a job for conscientious users to perform if they have time; it requires training and expertise. If you have never heard of persistent uniform resource locators (PURLs), don’t know what PREservation Metadata: Implementation Strategies (PREMIS) is and are unaware that there are reasons why Portable Document Format (PDF) is not a suitable preservation format for e-mail, you need a digital curator.”

Business Information Managers
Twenty per cent of business managers rated the information that they get from IT as poor, according to the Gartner Business Pulse survey conducted from June through August 2009. “Information management has never been an explicit job role: IT manages the technology, business manages the domain, but who manages the information?” said Ms Logan. “Companies have allowed a huge gap to open up, and consequently, everyone has been the manager of their own information.”

There will be an increasing trend to combine business and information management expertise in a single role, carried out by a single person, rather than a “business and IT partnership” with two people, two hierarchies and two sets of reporting relationships. One company already taking this approach achieved all its objectives including a cost reduction for the department of 10 per cent in the first year. Gartner expects 20 per cent of companies to employ business information managers by 2013, compared with 5 per cent in 2009.

Enterprise Information Architects

Within IT itself, enterprise information architects will be required to create taxonomies, document templates and data models. Gartner has observed several additional roles within the title of information architect, which has developed to include a mix of skills to enable both structured and unstructured content to be managed effectively. In some cases, the same person may fill more than one information architecture role, such as business-level information architect, data-integration architect, application-oriented information architect and content-oriented information architect. All these roles focus on adding structure and context to data so that the data can be leveraged to increase its value and maximise efficiency and reuse.

“Despite difficult economic conditions and disruptive technology, business and demographic trends, IT organisations have not changed their priorities or behaviours,” said Ms Logan. “If IT responds the way it always has, IT operations face obsolescence. The role of technology will now be to augment human contributions, rather than automate them. The only way to manage information better is to manage information better with people.”

To view the full Gartner Inc press release go to:

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