The success of Google proves that if you manage content professionally, tremendous value is delivered.Imagine you are very rich and you have a big house. One evening you have guests over. One of the guests asks you where the toilet (restroom) is. You give them instructions and off they go.
After a few turns they end up in the garden. They backtrack, apologise for their ignorance and ask you again for directions. You give them what you believe are even clearer instructions. They head off. They still end up in the garden. They are getting a bit desperate at this stage.
A neighbour is working in his garden and smiles knowingly. He shouts some instructions about how to find the toilet. The guest hurries back into your house and, following the neighbours' instructions, quickly finds the toilet. Later that night, the guest mentions the kind neighbour that they talked to in the garden. "Oh, you met Mr Google, did you? We'd never find anything in this house without Mr Google."
In many situations it is easier to find something on a website by using the public Google search engine than by using the website's own search engine. This is an incredible situation. Think about it. Google, which indexes 12 billion pages, is doing a better job than, for example, a search engine that indexes 12,000.
This situation says less about the excellence of Google and more about the poor state of information management in many organizations. A great many organizations simply don't professionally manage their information. They simply store it. All that is about to change.
It is about to change because Google is worth $150 billion. The stock market knows about value, particularly future value. The stock market is telling us that Google is one of the most valuable companies in the world. It believes Google is doing something that has great present-and particularly-future value.
What Google is doing is managing information in a way that makes it fast and easy to find what you need. Why is this important? Because, these days, before making key decisions, people are increasingly going to the Web to become better informed.
Information is becoming increasingly critical to the success of the organization. It's just that most organizations have not recognized this, and have therefore not put proper information management structures in place. So what will the information manager of the future look like?
Their primary focus will not be on the information itself. It will not be on how to create, edit and publish content, although these are all important activities. No. The Web will radically change how we manage information, because for the first time we can systematically measure its impact.
Information management will focus on the result. It will ask the question, "What was the person trying to do and did our information help them do it easily and quickly?" They say that actions speak louder than words. Well, the future is about managing the actions that result from words.
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant
, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994.