As I was trying out the joys of a netbook while sitting in a comfy chair and catching up on my blogs I came across a phrase in a Beyond Search post that resonated:

Search is in crisis because there is a challenge explaining what search is, how its component parts related to business problems, and neologisms work for a handful of insiders.

A couple of weeks ago I attended an “Art of Networking”  seminar and when asked “What do you do?”  Explaining what an “Information Consultant” does is a true conversation, not a single sentence answer.  I try to begin that conversation with a reply of: I help you solve your information problems.  I use my skills to improve the content retrieval for information seekers within your organization.

The conversation then goes into how people create and use information, how they search for information and what they need to retrieve.  The Beyond Search post about search having a communication issue could be just as easily applied to information.

Most information is created electronically.  Many companies have difficulty in understanding the complex issues related to the easy, or at the very least, efficient, retrieval of that information.  More and more companies of all sizes are using resources such as wiki’s or portals to provide access to the information that should be shared.  Unfortunately, without the structure of, yes, I’m gonna say it, a good custom ontology, and specific guidelines, information consumers within the enterprise will spend more time searching than finding.

Knowing that there is a need for structure and finding a way to create and maintain that structure through appropriate content creation and manage in information usage.  Most companies do not have someone in place to manage those processes.

Many companies need someone to create those processes.  That is where the Answer Maven team comes into play.  We look at the information you create and use in your daily work and the processes you use for that information in view of the whole picture from creation to management to retrieval and all the nuances within those key components including the risk management to protect companies from e-discovery costs.

Defining information management is a difficult task.  Search is a difficult concept to communicate because it’s not as simple as placing a single word into a box and reviewing a set of precise result – at least not without a lot of work in the background.  Information management is about more than file storage.

Processes are necessary and everything goes hand in hand with good search technologies.  If you have content, you probably have an information management challenge.  It doesn’t matter if you are a small business or a Fortune 50 company.  The smartest information management move anyone can take is ensuring that an information professional has assigned structure and processes for your content.  The next step is ownership but we will save that discussion for another day.