Did the taxi industry not see Uber coming? Did GPS manufacturers not perceive the threat from smart phones?
Could they have done something about these upstart competitors if they had? What information would they have needed?
What can knowledge management and other information professionals learn from the above, and what steps can we take to avoid being “Uberized”?
The Forces of Digital Disruption
In a recently published article titled The Economic Essentials of Digital Strategy, McKinsey authors Dawson, Hirt and Scanlan wrote:
“By subjecting the source of disruption to systematic analysis solidly based on the fundamentals of supply and demand, executives can better understand the threat they confront in the digital space…”
While the above reference to supply and demand may make one think of products and services, it applies equally to information resources. Think of your users’ requirements as demand and the tools and resources you provide as supply. Do you really understand the demand side of the equation? Are there different and better ways of presenting supply to meet it?
What does an information-rich environment look like to your end users?
Doing what it takes to understand the demand side of information delivery may sound like a costly or time consuming exercise. However, digitization makes it possible to gather information about almost everything, and to do so extremely inexpensively.
Three tools come to mind which you can use to quickly and inexpensively find out what your digital clientele are using:
- Google Analytics is a great starting point. Many KM and library professionals already use this tool to map out what their clients need
- Another useful tool is an online survey platform such as Survey Monkey. Cheaper than bananas, and while you might not like everything you hear, users will likely tell you what you need to know
- Online research analytics software (e.g. Lucidea’s LookUp solution) starts where Google Analytics stops. It can tell you exactly what resources your clients use, how often and for what purpose
Armed and Dangerous?
Now that you know what your clients are using, what can you do with the information? You will be able to:
- Eliminate or promote unused/underutilized resources
- Offer a broader range of sources and delivery models
- Negotiate better vendor pricing
Ultimately, your objective is not to reduce supply, but to increase it. Economists and knowledge resource professionals agree: the more we offer, the greater the demand for our products and services. Once you understand that, it changes everything.