How to Find Job Security in 2008: Become an Information Funnel
Disintermediation was a buzzword of the past decade when people saw how the internet could essentially remove the middleman. This led to more empowered consumers (another buzzword) with a wealth of resources at their fingertips (via their keyboard). In other words, someone with a problem becomes a knowledge seeker, wading through the results of searches, but due to the volume and uneven quality of information and pervasive poor information literacy skills, many don’t find useful help. Internet-based intermediaries have had limited success.
The solution is information funnels. These are people who
- have domain expertise
- understand consumer psychology: how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different alternatives
- know the resources, regulations, and options available
- guide someone towards solutions.
We all give advice based on our experiences caring for a child or aging parent, dealing with a health problem, changing careers, or finding love. However, many of us have tunnel-vision since our expertise is based on limited experiences. This is where the information funnel comes in.
Here is an example: my friend, Joanne Rosenthal, is a social worker specializing in elder care. She offers a consultation with someone whose aging parent is no longer able to live alone and unassisted. She steers them to the services they need now and may need in the future, including the web sites that she has vetted. I just did a search on elder care and got 4,600,000 results, and who knows if I even even used the best term. Another example: for clients who want to move into e-learning but don’t know where to start, I teach them about the range of possibilities for online courses, the terminology, and the technologies, and map out a strategy for them. Whether Joanne or I do the actual work, we funnel the most useful information to our clients.
I believe this is true for all domains and is arguably the growth job in 2008.
Thanks to Larry Prusack for inspiring me over a coffee at Starbucks!