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Know your role!

This article appears in the issue November/December 2010, [Vol 19, Issue 10]
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Given the rapid growth of digital information, emerging tools for communication and collaboration, and the increased strategic importance of the Web and mobile as a channel for engaging with customers, you may be asking yourself: Where is my job headed?

You’re not alone. Putting the right people in place to lead content and collaboration (C&C) initiatives for enterprises and government agencies is a growing imperative. The skills mix required to deliver and to scale up enterprisewide workplace solutions—like enterprise social tools, infrastructure for engaging Web experiences and content management—is changing. Raw technology skills are of lesser importance than in the past; instead, today’s content and collaboration professional needs to be able to influence stakeholders across IT, legal, communications, marketing and human resources.

In partnership with KMWorld, Forrester Research recently surveyed more than 200 professionals engaged in those initiatives. Their goal—supporting anywhere, anytime access to information and expertise—remains unchanged. But the people making those objectives happen are now highly compensated managers leading cross-functional teams, particularly in sectors like technology and telecommunications, financial services, government and business/professional services.

Diverse, but integral

There is great consistency in the overall goal of C&C professionals, the actual role manifests itself in many different ways. According to our most recent data, C&C professionals:

  • have a broad range of titles and backgrounds. The titles of C&C professionals likely vary from one organization to another. You will frequently see titles such as consultant, knowledge architect, librarian, records manager, IT analyst and process engineer, as well as generic IT titles like VP of IT in charge of leading content and collaboration initiatives. A recent title analysis of Forrester’s readership on C&C topics surfaced no less than 1,400 unique titles!
  • hail from diverse industries. C&C professionals are in industries ranging from energy and utilities to healthcare. However, some industries have markedly more C&C professionals than others. Sixty percent of our sample work in technology and telecommunications, financial services, government and business/professional services. As information- and human capital-intensive industries, those verticals appear to invest heavily in C&C initiatives. Who are the C&C investment laggards? Consumer services, construction, manufacturing and transportation services. Only five percent of C&C pros we surveyed work in one of those industries.
  • report to a variety of departments within their organizations. One in five C&C professionals reports to his or her organization’s IT department. The rest are found in vastly different departments across the organization. They range from the typical departments—customer service, library, marketing—to atypical emerging departments such as social media, e-learning and loss prevention.

While C&C professionals are found across different industries and departments, they tend to play a similar role within their respective teams. More than 96 percent of C&C professionals we surveyed are full-time employees, and they tend to be high-ranking individuals on their teams. Nearly 60 percent of respondents described their position as a managerial level or higher, and only about one-third of respondents were individual workers.

Undoubtedly because of their seniority, C&C professionals are well compensated. Industries clearly value C&C professionals and reward them accordingly. The average salary is $98,470, and the median salary is $87,500 (Figure 1) http://www.kmworld.com/downloads/70848/KMW_chart_2010_p12.pdf. For North American professionals, the average salary is even higher: $107,750. Those working in industries investing more heavily in C&C initiatives (technology and telecommunications, finance, business/professional services and government) are generally paid more than those working in industries not investing in C&C initiatives. There is no correlation between company size and salary.

The C&C professional generally works on small primary teams averaging 15 people. Only eight percent of respondents reported working on teams larger than 30. Some evidence suggests that industries investing more in C&C initiatives are more likely to have larger team sizes. Those industries likely have more complex C&C initiatives requiring specialized skills across information architecture, technology and program management.

Industries and workers invest

C&C initiatives are a mile wide and more than an inch deep. Forrester and KMWorld asked survey respondents to list all the C&C initiatives sponsored by their companies. Across industries, organizations were investing in an average of nine major C&C projects. There are some clear trends: Companies are investing in knowledge and content management. According to our survey respondents, 65 percent and 64 percent respectively are investing in those areas. Other notable initiatives in which C&C professionals’ companies are investing include: portals (56 percent), collaboration (55 percent), business intelligence (55 percent) and information architecture (49 percent). Those six initiatives make up the hot spots across industries. Search, records management and archiving continue to remain popular.

The five least popular C&C initiatives are: text analytics, e-discovery, information workplace, smartphone applications and data quality/MDM and, interestingly enough, telecommuting support. Across all industries, less than 20 percent of companies are investing heavily in one of those areas.

Multiple projects

On average, the C&C professional is responsible or accountable for between one and five C&C initiatives (Figure 2) http://www.kmworld.com/downloads/70848/KMW_chart_2010_p12.pdf. However, there are some initiatives in which C&C professionals are held more accountable than others. Projects that most C&C professionals are held responsible or accountable for include: knowledge management, content management, collaboration, information capture and intranet/employee portals. In fact, more than 50 percent of respondents cited one of those projects as their primary responsibility. Because they are initiatives in which companies are clearly investing, it only makes sense that C&C professionals would spend more time on those projects.

Data quality and communications projects get the short end of the stick. C&C professionals spend little time on data quality, unified communications, e-mail/IM/Web conferencing, smartphone applications and text analytics. Only five percent of respondents cited any of those initiatives as their primary task. Those projects are just not top of mind for C&C professionals and—except for e-mail, IM and Web conferencing—their companies are not investing in them. Despite the fact that nearly 50 percent of companies are engaging in e-mail/IM/Web conferencing initiatives, only one percent of C&C professionals surveyed work on those projects.

Barriers to success

C&C professionals are accountable for a variety of projects. But do they believe their initiatives are successful? Twenty-six percent believe they are not successful, 34 percent believe they are moderately successful and 41 percent believe they are very successful.

We asked C&C professionals to select the top barriers hampering the success of their primary initiative. Nearly 40 percent believe company politics and culture hinder success. That means C&C pros need to increase their focus on communications, influence and change management in the context of running programs. The other most cited barriers to success included funding constraints (28 percent), complexity of the IT environment (26 percent) and lack of staff (23 percent). 

 

 

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