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Many of you may have seen Jeff Bezos’ interview this weekend on 60 Minutes where he discussed the next phase of Amazon’s delivery process is looking to using drones to deliver products and remove third-party delivery services altogether. It is an interesting concept, and one that focuses again on streamlining the process of moving physical products from the manufacturing process to the consumer in the most efficient (cheap and fast) way. This will put a scare in the UPS and Postal Service delivery people. I guess the next progression in the Amazon process will be to sell consumers devices that will simply manufacture the desired product directly in the consumer’s home. That will scare the Foxconn folks. Like it or not, the whole business model is to remove the human from the process as much as possible, and link the customer with the product as quickly, often, and cheaply as possible.

Information Professionals like Librarians, Analysts, and Researchers are very familiar with this process because the information we deal with everyday has already gone through a transition that Bezos is attempting to do with physical products. So, for us, what is the next step? What is the equivalent to Amazon’s drone that will be the next driver in information delivery? I think the answer to this question lies in the advancements we see taking place in e-discovery products, specifically in the predictive coding methods that are becoming common place in that market, and using those tools along with research savvy to create products/results that are much more analytical.

For Information Professionals, we will need to start pivoting away from being the ad hoc researcher and shift over to more predictive analysis processes. In fact, as I was drafting this post, I serendipitously received an invite to a training conference specifically on “Predictive Analytics & Business Insights.” Within the description of the training are specific concepts that we should begin assembling into our customer service models:

  • Predictive Analysis – harnessing predictive capabilities to optimize business operations and develop an analytics culture
  • Risk Analysis – leveraging the wealth of organizational data, in real time, to predict risk and respond accordingly
  • Marketing Analytics – how analytics impact and optimize marketing planning, operations and performance
  • Customer Analytics – customer-driven analytics that encourage innovation, enhance engagement capabilities, enhance retention and loyalty, and promote growth

The past twenty-five years of information has produced a process that has removed much of the human from the process. Lawyers directly receive their information from the producers of that information. The Information Professional’s job has been more and more of vetting all of the different products out there and helping to make sense of it all. The value has shifted away from our ability to find the golden nugget of information within a mountain of data, and has been focused on getting our customers access to the best products, in the most efficient manner, all while maintaining costs. This will continue to be a valuable service, but we have a strong talent pool of researchers, analysts that we need to transition away from the traditional research model and over to areas of predictive analytics to help drive new business to the firm.

Predictive Analysis may not be as cool or flashy as Amazon’s drone idea, but for those of us looking for the next big idea in the Informational Professional market, this may be what helps keep us relevant in a market that is needing us to step up and fill this need.