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PHOTO: ckturistando

The 2018 Information Governance Conference (InfoGovCon) brought together some of the best minds across the information industry to collaborate on how to be better at what we do. I’ve been attending this conference since its inception and have come to have high expectations. This year did not disappoint.

Two major themes emerged from the conference this year. The first, and unintentional, was security. Given the current state of the information industry, people wanting to talk and learn about information security is to be expected. The second major theme centered on improving the information industry. Multiple conference sessions supported this by putting the focus on helping those whose information is being managed and governed. The Information Coalition team also debuted the InfoBOK, the Information Body of Knowledge, to align with the conference — but more on that later. 

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Feeling Empathy for Information Consumers

Two years after Pradeep Sharma, provost of the Rhode Island School of Design, took the keynote stage at InfoGovCon to discuss the importance of design, you could see an increased focus on designing positive experiences for the end users. This marked a shift away from the previous focus on achieving fully compliant systems and a move towards making life easier for those who consume the information stored in our systems.

I was happy to see this trend. Ann Gorr, a legal technology consultant and information governance professional, delivered a keynote on day two which focused on empathy. While she spoke a lot about effective change management ideas, she stressed that effective change management begins with empathy. It's only by understanding the everyday challenges of the people you are trying to help that progress is made. Part of this is ensuring people know they have support.

The empathy focus was carried throughout multiple talks. A different keynote stressed the importance of an empathy map. This was the first time I had heard empathy maps, an important design thinking tool, mentioned in the information governance industry. Additionally, a lot of focus was devoted to working with, and for, those consuming the applications we build.

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Defining the Information Body Of Knowledge

For the past two years, driven by the hard work of D. Madrid, the Information Coalition has been working to define a body of knowledge for the information professional. Known as the InfoBOK, they announced just before the conference that they had completed their efforts and were releasing it under an open source license. They also offered a beta of the exam for the new INFO certification which is based on the InfoBOK.

In many ways, this is an important step forward for the industry. They spent two years accepting contributions from industry professionals to help define what every information professional should know. Topics include foundational concepts such as the relationship between data, documents, content and information, as well as the difference between management and governance. (Spoiler, it is the tactics versus the strategy.)

More importantly, the InfoBOK doesn’t exist to serve the exam. The exam exists to measure the InfoBOK.

I was one of the people who took the Beta exam. It was stated that anyone with more than a few years in the industry should be able to pass the exam. Unsurprisingly, I passed. I am still evaluating the role of the certification in the industry but the InfoBOK definitely appears to be a useful resource. I believe it is a good starting point to creating an open and collaborative working body of knowledge.

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Plan for the Future of Information 

The InfoGovCon was once again informative and fun. In addition to the themes above, sessions covered topics as diverse as drones — their data and the legal and privacy concerns — as well as one on using Alexa to perform the duties of a not-so-average records manager. Talks like these really push attendees to think about the future and how to adjust actions today to prepare for tomorrow.

It was a good week in Providence, RI. I highly recommend attending both InfoGovCon and visiting Providence at the next opportunity. As the information profession and surrounding technologies keep evolving, InfoGovCon seems like the best place to get the answers needed to plan for the future on information.