Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Don Tapscott at SLA 2005 Conference

Well-known consultant Don Tapscott gave the opening address to the SLA 2005 conference in Toronto on Monday.

Tapscott is the author of Paradigm Shift, Growing Up Digital, the Digital Economy, and The Naked Corporation.

In his presentation, Torontonian Tapscott explored the role information professionals can play in the new era he characterizes as the era of transparency in which all have unprecedented access to information from a wide range of sources that allow people to scrutinize and criticize big business and government as never before. Internal data, disgruntled employees' complaints, internal memos, secret reports about product defects, scandalous executive compensation packages - all the details end up sooner or later in the media, on the Net, in chat rooms.

Corporations are now "naked", Tapscott explained, exposed through disclosure laws, citizen empowerment via the Internet and activist digging.

And if they are naked, companies, governments and major institutions had better be "buff": if they claim to be good to their customers, they had better be; if they claim to treat their employees and suppliers well, they had better do so; if they claim to support environmentally sustainable activities, they had better be sincere.

It is the era of shareholder activism and empowered consumers with access to comparison shopping web sites.

Of course, Tapscott admitted, there are obstacles to transparency: the business value of secrets (patents, trade secrets), simple deceit, privacy concerns, the fear of litigation, even fatigue at the need to be open about everything.

But he argued the transition was occurring nonetheless, spurred by drivers that are technological, demographic (the rise of the digital generation "bathed in bits" and that has developed "great bullshit detectors"), sociopolitical (the corporate trust crisis, and the rise of Internet-savvy civil society organizations ready to attack corporations that violate ethics laws, ruin the environment, or disregard civil rights) and economic.

And in his account, transparency needs to be embraced by organizations as a value, as an advantage because in the long run, it will enhance growth, build sustainable enterprises and empower people to make better decisions and share knowledge and information more appropriately.

He summed it up by explaining how the values of honesty and openness can be related back to information, and thus to the work SLA members do and the values information professionals need to foster and embrace. To survive in a world of transparency, so Tapscott, organizations will need to be:
  • honest about problems (internal and external transparency)
  • considerate (labour relations, community relations)
  • ready to abide by official commitments (better be accountable)
  • open (which requires very accurate financial and non-financial reporting mechanisms)


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posted by Michel-Adrien at 8:36 pm


Blogger vonjobi said...

Filipino Librarian ...For more detailed notes, see "Don Tapscott at SLA 2005 Conference."

3:34 am  

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