Magazine article Information Today

New York Business Information Conference

Magazine article Information Today

New York Business Information Conference

Article excerpt

Topics like KM. business info, and change management were prevalent

The New York Business Information Conference (NYBIC) took place November 15-16, 1999. Because it was held in New York's financial district, it was not surprising that many of the attendees were information professionals or managers from investment banks, large consulting firms, and others interested in business information. The program focused on enterprise information solutions, portals, and changes in the information industry. Although the stated themes of the conference were information and knowledge flows, how organizations can use information more effectively, and events outside the world of information, the general topic of knowledge management ran through most of the presentations and could be considered the unspoken theme of the conference.

This was the fourth NYBIC. It was organized and sponsored by TFPL, Ltd., a recruiting and consulting firm whose major services focus on information management, consulting, market research, recruiting, and training for the information industry. TFPL's Web site ( provides full details of the company and its services.

The Technology Society

NYBIC opened with a keynote by Oliver Sparrow of the Royal Institution for International Affairs, who gave a somewhat overwhelming review of the forces creating change in the knowledge economy and the dynamics of their resolution. Stating that today's society is the most complex in history, he asserted that social networks are the limiting factor in achievement. Most events formerly taking up to a year to occur now happen in as little as a day, and many complex operations are becoming "garage technologies." We are beginning to become less trustful and less prone to delegate. Technology is to our economy what the potato was to the Irish economy in the mid-19th century: We are currently heavily dependent on it, and if it fails, major losses will occur.

Getting a decision made is becoming increasingly difficult because there are so many voices clamoring to be heard. In the "war of ideas," it is important to persuade people or organizations to align their viewpoints. A strange mixture of collaboration and competition ("coopetition") may be needed. Techniques for helping to cope with the forces of change include connectivity, increasing volume and speed, trust and acceptance, commercial adaptation, and expanded capabilities. Sparrow concluded his talk by saying that a major impetus for progress will come from knowledge-based management.

Michael Simpson, director of strategic planning at Novell Networks, suggested that advances in networking soon will make it possible to store your preferences in a network and then use PCs anywhere to access them. Convergence of technologies is a point of change, and it is inevitable. Your identity is the only thing that is constant wherever you are, and it does not depend on what computer you are using; therefore, identity control and protection is the most pressing technological need for the near future. Statistics show that 78 percent of Internet users would use it more for commerce if they could be sure that their privacy was protected.

Knowledge Management

Two speakers from Microsoft described the company's intranet, MSWeb, an enterprise-wide portal that contains an astounding 2.2 million pages and serves over 40,000 unique users (over 90 percent of Microsoft's employees) every month. In such an environment, managing the system and facilitating information flow require some unique tools and techniques. Partnerships with key stakeholders and information providers, and maintenance of quality are extremely challenging, and it is important to turn learning into action quickly.

Microsoft has set up "knowledge centers" to provide access to content and opportunities for learning. The centers focus on subjects of wide interest to many employees and require sponsorship from an executive. …

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