Robin Neidorf Making the Case for Knowledge in Financial Services
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By Robin Neidorf


An essential part of an information manager's job is being able to explain and justify the value of an information or knowledge centre to colleagues and the C-suite. One FreePint customer calls on Director of Research Robin Neidorf for support and creates the case for information resources and knowledge staff as valuable assets and an essential part of the organisation's strategic planning process.


The Request: Cost Centre or Strategic Asset?

I often check email on weekends, so I happened to see the following come in from a customer last Saturday:

Subject line: Help!

I am in a pickle... I have a meeting with our CFO on Tuesday and am in need of information from FreePint which can answer the following question in regards to why we have a “Knowledge Services” or “Information Centre” type group at our organisation.

I want to answer the following questions, from the CFO's perspective:

  1. Why do I care about this department?
  2. What's in it for me?

This customer is the head of knowledge services, and her company is a global organisation in the financial services industry. I knew that by helping her, I could also create the foundation for a strong, data-driven and financially based business case for knowledge services in similar companies.

For a long time, information and knowledge managers have been perceived as costs and have had to justify their place in the business on that basis. But information and knowledge are valuable assets for a business, and strategic, thoughtful investment should logically produce meaningful returns.

To convince a CFO would require a financially based argument that laid out both the potential rewards of investment as well as the critical risks of reaction rather than strategic planning.

The Response: FreePint Topics

I spent the rest of the weekend considering how best to help, and then on Monday morning sent the following:

Subject line: Making the financial case for KM and information services

Thank you for reaching out to FreePint to support your meeting with the CFO. We hear variations of the questions you are asking all the time from customers, across all industries.

The strategic value of investment in knowledge management and information services is at the heart of FreePint Topics:   

  • Sources: the market for paid-for sources changes all the time. The environment of free sources is just as dynamic. Companies that do not dedicate resources to staying on top of these changes risk overspending on content; being left without a critical source when something changes; and losing efficiencies due to sub-optimal source selection.

  • Technology: evolution in collaborative and workflow technologies that improve information work can streamline and transform business - or create expensive errors and delays. Proper investment in information services management ensures the former rather than the latter.

  • ROI: licensing content is not exactly like purchasing PCs or desks, and the information industry is still evolving with regard to determining and measuring appropriate ROI for content products and services. Until such time as these metrics are normalised across businesses and the vendors in the field, information services managers must be directly engaged in determining a company's goals and measuring directly against those goals.

  • Compliance: financial regulations may be managed in a compliance-specific part of the business, but content-related regulations like international copyright standards still require dedicated information services professionals to protect a company from risk. 

These FreePint Topics are consistently cited by global companies across a range of industries as "must have" areas of concern to reduce costsimprove business efficiency, safeguard against risk and make a business more competitive. Some specific articles that may be useful to seed discussion about the value of knowledge management and information services:

You may also find this article useful: Information Services Add Value: Measuring and Proving It   Because you have a FreePint Subscription, you can share any of the articles with your CFO, either by using the "share with colleagues" feature or by selecting "printable version of this article" when viewing.  

I'm also happy to provide more resources or set a time to talk a bit later this afternoon - let me know if there's a good time for us to talk.

The Result: Happy CFO!

Two days later, I was thrilled to receive the following report:

The CFO was impressed with my preparedness for this meeting, much of which I can attribute to reading your materials. I came out of the meeting with a new friend. He even said, "This was so much fun!"

Who wouldn't want to make friends with the CFO? Talk about an essential relationship for long-term success!

If you'd like to make friends with your CFO - or any other key stakeholder in your organisation - and want support from FreePint to do so, contact me at at any time. Nothing is more satisfying than helping our customers speak the right language to demonstrate their value and further the discussion within their organisations around information, knowledge and their role as organisational assets.

If you're not yet a FreePint Subscriber, start the process by completing our online form, "How Can FreePint Help?"

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