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by Steve Todd | June 01, 2010


The growing amount of digital information described in this IDC study is often represented using a digital ticker:

digital information growth ticker

(View a live version of the ticker)

The text on the top portion of the slide compares the "traditional economy" with the "information economy". The term "information economy" is not well-defined. In fact, the definition is nebulous enough that the current description on Wikipedia states the following:

"The vagueness of the term has three sources…."

I believe that an information economy is one that assigns monetary value to digital bits of information. I am uncertain whether there will be such as thing as a global information economy in the short term. I do believe, however, that more and more businesses will be running reports against their digital portfolio and creating balance sheets based on what is found. Some information will have an extremely high monetary value, while other information may represent a risk or a potential loss in monetary value.

It's an interesting exercise to extrapolate on the types of careers that are applicable in this new economy. One of the leading thinkers in this area is Chuck Hollis. Chuck describes four areas impacted by the emergence of the information economy, and I believe that each area represents multiple career opportunities.

Information Governance

Businesses need "governance boards" to manage and analyze the information in their portfolio. Nearly all businesses already oversee financial assets (e.g. office of the CFO) and human assets (e.g. HR). More and more corporations are beginning to oversee their information assets. For example, a business needs to establish an IT framework that manages information risk (e.g. information at risk of being lost/stolen), and constantly monitor attempted intrusion into corporate networks. All of this data can be fed into a report which asks: "How much money will we lose if information is leaked from within our business"? This type of framework requires a Chief Information Officer, a dedicated security organization, one or more analysts, and a set of knowledge workers.

Knowledge Workers

Knowledge Workers are employees within a corporation that possess a critical skill: they are adept at handling, parsing, and understanding the "river of information" that flows through the business. They are adept at social media and can tap into this river and effectively analyze it from anywhere, on any device. Not only do they operate inside of an organization (e.g. on an internal corporate backbone), but they collaborate outside of the firewall as well.

The Transformation of Information Technology (IT)

The data centers that house enormous amounts of information are being built in fundamentally different ways. The amount of data is so large that many corporations are considering "renting" their own data center infrastructure. Unfortunately, most companies are not ready to expose their information to an external provider, so they are looking instead for a new breed of IT specialist with expertise in pre-packaged IT stacks of servers, networks, and storage, often called "blocks" or "pods". Employees with this skill will begin to deliver IT as a "service" (analogous to the way electricity is delivered).

Personal Information Management

Business information growth is being surpassed by the generation of personal information, and there is an opportunity for corporations to become "information bankers" that house economically valuable information on behalf of individuals. This type of information requires a whole new set of technologies to manage it; Google and Yahoo techniques will no longer be able to rely on page rank. New algorithms and software will rise to the top.

The information boom will continue to create jobs in the decade ahead. Stay in touch with the growing trend of the information economy by becoming a regular subscriber to this blog.

Twitter: @SteveTodd
EMC Intrapreneur


Filed Under: Technology