Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Skill Sets of Information Professionals (Part 3 of 4)

Whether named Information Professionals, Digital Asset Managers, Virtual Librarians or something else, these essential people possess a special skill-set necessary to organize and manage your intellectual properties, especially important as you implement digital access to your data via the web to your employees, clients and prospects. Candidates with strong IT backgrounds only, often lack the depth of knowledge required to understand how your assets are used from a business application perspective. And, traditional librarians most often lack the technical expertise needed to properly copyright, catalog, meta-tag and organize assets in digital format for online access. Information professionals today must have both technical expertise, and strong organizational proficiency. Finding, hiring and training, or contracting the right Information Manager (Digital Asset Manager, Librarian, Information Professional) is critical to the successful implementation of a digital or digital and hard-copy combined library.

In addition to experience in cataloging, indexing, meta-tagging, digital file formats, and strong organizational and research skills, many information professionals now also possess certifications in Knowledge Management, Copyright Management, Digital Rights Management, Business and Competitive Intelligence. They have a strong working knowledge of information technology and office applications, including: content aggregation tools, SharePoint and other tools including: Factiva, LexisNexis, Bloomberg, Factset, Thomson ONE Analytics, and FinancialTimes.com, to name a few.  Information Managers posses the technical skills necessary to function as the system administrator of your library, providing different users with different access levels to your assets.

In Part-4 of this series, I will speak directly to LAC-Group’s expertise and 25-years experience in library services, as we employee nearly 400 information professionals, all of which are working from client sites all over the world today.
“He is wise who knows the sources of knowledge -where it is written and where it is to be found.”- A.A. Hodge

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hiring/Contracting Options for Digital Asset Management (Part 2 of 4)

Although a Digital Asset Manager is a relatively new position, it has quickly become a necessity in almost every industry. With over 20,000 asset managers working throughout the world (in almost every industry) today, and those numbers projected to triple within the next decade, the good news for executives and IT professionals is that you now have many more options available to you, than you did even five years ago. Whether you work in corporate America, the private business sector, government, law, or bio/pharma, a good portion of your business is now conducted in the virtual marketplace, and that volume is only expected to increase as time passes. Therefore, adding the right Digital Asset Manager to your organization is critical to your future success. In many cases using an outside firm to manage your digital assets can result in not only savings but productivity gains.  Hiring and contracting options for the digitization and management of your assets includes:

  1. Outsourcing the recovery of archives, assets lost in a crisis, including storage repository recovery and expansion.
  2. Outsourcing the digitization and organization of specific assets for a specific project.
  3. Outsourcing the cataloging, meta-tagging, and organization of your digital and physical assets, followed by training of your internal information management staff for the ongoing administration of your library from in-house.
  4. Outsourcing the digitization of your assets, and retaining a contracted digital asset managers as part of your IT team for the on-going administration of your asset library.
  5. Adding an experienced digital asset manager to compliment your in-house employees for the digitization and/or permanent administration of your library.
In Part-3 of this series, I will cover the specific skill sets for librarians in the Digital Age.

Libraries are not made; they grow.” - Augustine Birrell

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Commonly Outsourced Information Management Functions (Part 1 of 4)

First and foremost, outsourcing information management (IM) doesn’t have to be all or nothing; Outsourcing of some library and information management services is already an accepted and common practice in every library today in the public sector, as well as most in-house, legal and government repositories. Most executives and IT managers now approach outsourcing from the perspective of a long-term strategic business practice to reduce costs, and increase workflow efficiencies and enhanced services for their customers and employees. Outsourcing IT functions is an invaluable option available within the library services industry, allowing businesses to not only jump over new technological hurdles much faster, and at a reduced cost, but to better control the massive cultural change within their organization when transitioning from a traditional to digital library. One of the biggest challenges is deciding which business functions to contract out, and which to maintain in-house. According to 2011 benchmarks by Outsell, the most commonly outsourced activities fall into the following four categories:

  1. Transactional Activities: Document imaging, cataloging and delivery, and data inquiries and alerting services that are necessary IM functions, but don’t necessarily increase revenues.
  2. Tactical Enterprise Information Management Functions: Complex queries and research, and archive and records management that require understanding from a business and technology perspective.
  3. Outside Expertise Required: Expertise is often not available in existing IM staff for information analysis, and management of enterprise information architecture.
  4. User training: Information and technology providers commonly handle in-house user training.    

These four categories of outsourced IM functions are all common responsibilities associated with both Physical and Digital Asset Managers, whether an employee or contractor. So in Part-2 of this series, I will outline the hiring and contracting options available to you so you can properly plan and expand your business into the digital marketplace.  

Blog 1 of 4 Reference:
OUTSELL, Making Information Management Outsourcing Work: Success Factors and Best Practices, by Roger Strouse (Jan 17, 2011)

“To know where you can find anything, that in short, is the largest part of learning.” - Anonymous

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Information Management Professionals, In-house vs. Outsourced – 4 Part Series

One of the most difficult decisions faced by executives today is not only how to properly evolve your business into this new digital environment, but also how to maintain controls, security, and varied levels of accessibility to a multitude of users over the Internet, all while protecting the integrity of your assets in the virtual marketplace. Outsourcing skilled information professionals, instead of hiring them direct is often a controversial subject. While a major increase in workflow efficiencies saves money, that money isn’t always seen in dollars, but in an increased value of your business, and the value you provide to your customers, employees and partners alike. On the other end of the spectrum, many executives and IT professionals share a common and valid concern about loss of internal controls by contracting asset management by an “outsider”.

During the next four weeks, I will take on this important strategic approach to business in the Digital Age and the tactical steps to move your business from point A to point Z, while maintaining quality control of your intellectual properties and digital library.

In this 4-part-series, we will be exploring:
Part 1 - Most common trends for outsourcing information management functions today
Part 2 - Employment options, whether contracting or hiring a Digital Asset Manager (DAM) is the best fit for you
Part 3 - Specific skill set needed to properly digitize and manage your assets
Part 4 - Pros of outsourcing, versus the pros of hiring  

I look forward to your feedback, especially from those of you who currently work in Information Management and Digital Asset Management, and can speak personally to the pros and cons of outsourcing from a first-person perspective. Part-1 of this series covers the IM functions most commonly outsourced now, all of which are standard skills for the Digital Asset Manager position.  

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Librarians of “The Digital Age”: Digital Asset Managers

Digital Asset Managers (DAMs), also known as: Digital Archivists and Digital Preservation Officers are essentially the new hybrid Librarians of the 21st Century. Digital Asset Managers or I'll call them DAMs for the purposes of this entry, like their traditional predecessors, still possess exceptional organizational dexterity, and an unrivaled commitment to the preservation of our history, now coupled with technical expertise and proficiency, necessary to properly organize, and manage our virtual resources. According to The New York Times, (article link embedded here for yourconvenience), there were over 20,000 people working as Digital Asset Managers in 2009, in a rapidly evolving digital market, where the demand for these new skills is expected to triple over the next decade. In addition to the time and effort required for organizing and protecting material in digital form, virtual librarians or DAMs also: handle copyright issues; license technology; serve as database administrators for our virtual-reality-networks (VRNs); and, they evaluate, purchase and manage digital and on-line content from vendors, including web content and on-line marketing tools. They assign identification markers within the electronic data, known as meta-tags, to properly catalog electronic material for high-demand access, and even manage our numerous iterations of our software and hardware, often referred to as new releases, versions and updates. Digital Asset Managers are a key component to the successful implementation, and on-going management of our assets, as we move further into this new virtual environment.      

I look forward to your feedback and comments, especially for those of you who serve as Digital Asset Managers today, employ a DAM, or are in-the-process of hiring, or outsourcing a DAM. Next Hot Topic…Digital Asset Managers, In-house vs. Outsourced.

“Technology is nothing. What's important is that you have a faith in people, that they're basically good and smart, and if you give them tools, they'll do wonderful things with them.” – Steve Jobs

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The "Cons" of Digitization

My “cons” list for the digitization of your assets is a bit shorter, especially considering the last 20-years of my life happened simultaneously with the digitization explosion, also known as “The Digital Age”, not only of the World Wide Web, but of document imaging, digital photography, on-line videos, Facebook, Tweeting and Blogging, on-line books and magazines, and Google’s digitization frenzy of every person, place and thing.

The truth is digitization requires an upfront investment in technology, staff and time (money), with a measurable Return-On-Investment (ROI) dependent on successful implementation, and usage. We are all digitized, in almost every aspect of our lives today, so the benefits of increased operational and end-user efficiencies and are still realized. However, the appearance of those savings in our P&Ls may not be as significant as we would like, or even need.

Monetization efforts surrounding digital assets (if an option) can help pay for the process, but doesn't always (or it may take too long).  Additionally, improperly captioned or meta-tagged digital assets will delay the ROI or the amount of time it takes to achieve an acceptable return.
I encourage you to share your stories and experiences, the pros and cons you have personally encountered, with us. Be sure to state your current position on digitization, whether you are partially, in-process, or fully digitized, or exploring this option for the future. Next Hot Topic….DAMs!

“One must spend time in gathering knowledge to give it out richly.” – Edmund Clarence Stedman

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The "Pros" of Digitization

I am surprised more often than not, that so few in our industry recognize, and/or promote the obvious and significant “Green” aspect of digitization. By eliminating the necessity for producing excessive hard copies of our intellectual properties, digitization is changing our very relationship with the Earth, by dramatically reducing the amount of natural resources we consume on a daily basis. The business “pros” of digitizing assets, also include: more effective (and free-flowing) communications - internal and external - accelerating customer and client service levels;  asset preservation; assets are more accessible and attainable to your entire staff, and all clients, partners and prospects; images and data are available faster, for a multitude of users, from multiple locations, at the same time; assets are stored in the form of a functional back-up copy; and, the digitization of your assets streamlines processes, and increases operational efficiencies by saving you time, and money.   Next week I'll discuss the "Cons" of digitization.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Digitizing Your Assets

Digitization - in practical business terms - is the process of creating electronic resources from your physical assets, and has rapidly evolved into one of the most recognized forms of organizational efficiency for companies today, and tomorrow. 

Proper digitization is more than just scanning and storing documents in an electronic format. Digitization is a strategy that involves systems, tools and technologies, organization including: meta-data, cataloging and captioning, and most importantly, the right Digital Asset Management (DAM) system. 

Digitization applies to all intellectual properties, every physical body of work you own from: books, manuals, white papers, corporate and legal (internal and external) documents, to your media including: photographs, videos, film and fiche, any and all information in a three-dimensional form. In addition, digitization addresses the organization of these physical assets with your digital-born material.

The results are the creation of a highly-functional, and complete virtual resource library.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

An Introduction: Who, What, When, Where, Why:
WHO: RobCorrao, COO of LAC Group…and, You!
WHAT: Host of Think-Tank, “Everything Information”
WHEN: Tuesday Round-tables with Rob (8:00-8:30 A.M. Pacific), and Weekly Blog Posts
WHERE: Here in our (mine and your) new Virtual Board Room 
WHY:  Everyone here has the sense that right now is one of those moments when we are influencing the future.” – Steve Jobs

While the World Wide Web is no longer a new technology, the changes it has created in our work-space, our industry, of full-information management and library services are nothing less than magnanimous. Almost every business, in every industry is now faced with new challenges to move forward, using a combination of technology and personnel, to preserve, protect and increase the accessibility of your assets, all while juggling a shrinking budget from these hard economic times. Each week, I will introduce a new “Hot Topic”, including the cost and operational efficiencies, and return-on-investment for the many technologies and methodologies available to you. I encourage you to speak out freely and often, and to claim your place around our round-table discussions. I am excited to host this virtual journey for our industry professionals, to educate, and to learn. We have a real opportunity to make a difference in our future…together. 

This week, I am addressing the concept of digitization, also known as digitizing your assets, the “pros”, and the “cons”. Please feel free to check-in here by introducing yourself, and posting your comments, questions, and/or ideas on how to make our time together each week the most productive, and beneficial to you. 

“Life is like a library owned by an author. In it are a few books which he wrote himself, but most of them were written for him.” – Harry Emerson Fosdick