For information professionals and the business leaders they support, the most critical information management skills that businesses will need over the coming years are the ability to add value to information through insight and analysis, combined with a strategic outlook and awareness of business goals. However, the results of a new study commissioned by Iron Mountain reveal that both groups agree these skills are currently the weakest.
The survey of senior business executives and records and information professionals in 900 mid-sized European and North American organisations found that information management is changing fast to embrace shifting business priorities.
Half (49%) of European information managers interviewed believe their roles and responsibilities have changed significantly over the last five years while the adjustment required to meet emerging business needs is also exposing some worrying skills gaps.
The research revealed a consistent view held by senior executives and information professionals on which skill sets will be most critical to businesses over the next few years, and also on the current shortage of such skills among records and information managers.
More than one-in-four (28%) of EU records and information managers and a similar number (30%) of EU business decision-makers questioned identified the ability to add value to information through insight and analysis – rather than just request factual content – as the single most critical skill set for records managers.
The second skill set critical to records managers is the need for a strategic outlook and awareness of wider business goals, which was chosen by 23% of information managers and 29% of business leaders.
However, when it comes to current competence, four-in-ten business leaders and their records and information professionals feel there’s “room for improvement” in terms of strategic outlook and the understanding of wider business goals.
The ability to effectively add value to information through strategic insight and analysis is a more contentious area, with business executives having a lower opinion of information managers’ ability (45% have concerns) than the professionals themselves (38% are worried).
Gap between current skill levels and future needs
“Our study reveals a worrying gap between current skill levels and future needs,” asserted Sue Trombley, managing director of thought leadership at Iron Mountain.
“Simply put, many responsible for managing company information today lack the skills required to manage it tomorrow. That’s according to their employers. Companies wishing to harness the full business value of information should look to close this gap and close it quickly.”
Trombley continued: “Business leaders and records and information management professionals carry a responsibility for achieving this. Business leaders need to ensure their information management teams are effectively integrated into all areas of the business and have access to the professional development they need. However, records and information managers will need to take on the challenge of developing the skills demanded to navigate a shifting information landscape.”
The extensive survey was conducted Coleman Parkes on behalf of Iron Mountain. Coleman Parkes surveyed business decision-makers and records and information managers at 900 organisations with between 250 and 999 employees across the healthcare, public sector, retail, legal, financial services/insurance, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and energy sectors in the UK, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Germany and in the United States.
All research was undertaken online during January and February 2015.