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  • December 30, 2015
  • By Art Murray, D.Sc. CEO of Applied Knowledge Sciences and co-founder of the Enterprise of the Future initiative, Ken Wheaton Management consultant and knowledge librarian at Applied Knowledge Sciences,
    and Director of the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the Special Libraries Association
  • The Future of the Future

Welcome to Curation 2.0

Finally, the curation team must link its efforts directly to corporate performance. For example, one former corporate librarian turned knowledge curator formed and led a company’s first cross-functional team ever, linking knowledge management to strategic objectives and performance metrics. That led to the formation of additional teams to solve problems and introduce new ideas through knowledge sharing across departments.

The upshot was that over 70 percent of the corporate library budget, which was previously spent on databases, books and periodicals, was freed up. Those funds were then put to better use training people in the skill sets mentioned in mindset change #2. Such training is now commonplace across the organization.

Yes, executive management, there is a payoff

In organizations where we’ve implemented those changes, the results have been dramatic. Many have even been in slow-moving industries such as oil and gas, food and agriculture, and government.

In one such organization, 90 percent of all reports used to be lab-generated and 10 percent were from other departments. In other words, the lab ruled the roost. When its curation-minded librarian led the implementation of a user-generated folksonomy, contributions shifted to the point where today 60 percent of the reports are lab-generated and the remaining 40 percent come from other departments such as sales, marketing, human resources and purchasing.

That resulted in faster and more frequent introductions of new and/or improved products in a highly competitive market. An 80 percent to 90 percent reduction in time taken to store and retrieve written research reports was a contributing factor.

On the flip side, there are serious penalties if you don’t take action. We’ve seen too many knowledge curation projects launch with great fanfare, only to quickly revert back to chaos. “We don’t have time for this” is the song we keep hearing. But the pain that results from doing nothing keeps ratcheting up as the zettabytes keep piling on.

These changes won’t happen on their own. It takes dedicated, persistent, high-maintenance handholding, balanced with strong leadership. That is why we assign high priority to soft skills training and development.

If we’ve observed anything from our periodic glimpses into the future, it’s that while many job categories are becoming obsolete, new, more knowledge-intensive ones are being created. The shift from librarian to knowledge curator is one that you should not only be watching, but also be acting on.

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