Equipping the workforce for 21st century information challenges

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Against a backdrop of geopolitical uncertainty, generational workforce shifts and soaring operational risks, businesses are experiencing the greatest transformation in decades. To navigate this change and quickly identify threats and opportunities, business leaders need to empower their organisations to make better, faster decisions based on data.

The role of business intelligence (BI) is quickly evolving in this new era. Research is now conducted by everyone, everywhere—but the growth of self-service intelligence also poses various challenges. The rise in hybrid working creates new obstacles for collaboration and information gathering, particularly for those working across borders and locales. And at a time when the threat of misinformation is ever-present, source transparency should be top of mind.

Understanding these 21st century information challenges is the first step to streamline research and enable smarter decision making across the organization. Here’s what you need to look out for.

Managing the generational shift

The ongoing generational transition is one of the biggest factors influencing knowledge gathering and decision making in the workplace. Hyper-connected and tech-savvy, Millennials and Generation Z have come to expect the ease and convenience of their favorite consumer apps in a professional environment too.

How this demographic consumes news and information is also strikingly different to other generations. Instead of getting their news from a single source, Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to turn to digital tools to access trending and personalized content from multiple sources and publications on the go.

These behaviours are driving the propensity for self-service BI. As these younger generations progress to management roles and the C-Suite, they are driving demand for innovative new tools and techniques to consume and digest business information, with convenience at the core of the experience.

Traci Mabrey

Traci Mabrey is the Head of Factiva, a global news and business information database owned by Dow Jones.

A future of work that is global-local

New ways of working since the pandemic are further accelerating this trend. Hybrid working is the new normal that businesses must adapt to—a recent survey by the World Economic Forum revealed more than two-thirds of people favor a hybrid work routine, while a quarter prefer fully remote working. The popularity of hybrid working practices can pose a challenge for employees collaborating across different teams and time-zones.

Overcoming these obstacles requires re-thinking existing operating models to reorient them around shared discovery, collaboration and decentralized decision making. It’s imperative for business leaders to break down organizational silos and team barriers so that they can build an environment that strikes the balance between empowerment and control, delegation and centralization.

BI tools can enable a more agile way of working by levelling the research playing field, delivering high-quality, trusted intelligence between teams. Enabling quick access to a central database of intelligence gathered from global and local sources is now critical to allow employees to quickly assess new and existing opportunities and make better decisions collectively.

Countering misinformation with credible intelligence

News-derived data has long been a critical source of intelligence, providing an unparalleled view of the past and present, and windows into the future. But the threat of misinformation across freely available search engines underscores the need for transparent, trusted sources of information.

From social media platforms awash with fake news, to siloed informational echo chambers, many novice researchers face key challenges assessing the veracity, truthfulness and credibility of their online sources. Algorithmic news feeds on free search engines and social media platforms muddy the source transparency waters for businesses and employees alike. One study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab found that falsehoods are 70% more likely to be retweeted on Twitter than the truth, highlighting the scale of the challenge.

Workforces today face different informational challenges compared to their predecessors—and misinformation can have serious regulatory and business risk implications. Information providers have a responsibility to guarantee the integrity of their data by licensing content from trustworthy publishers, and combining artificial intelligence with human expertise to continually vet and verify the reliability of sources. At Dow Jones we call this collaboration between machines and humans “Authentic Intelligence”—and it is this unique approach that ultimately ensures the quality of our news-derived data.

Research reimagined

The disruption of recent years has shown that businesses need to make decisions in real time to stay ahead of the competition. During times of volatility, the democratization of decision making is key to maintaining an edge. This means arming people with the tools and data they need to uncover insights and take strategic action.

During times of volatility, formalising an approach to business intelligence and professional research should be a top priority for business leaders. Whether you work in sales, strategy or the C-Suite, access to high-quality, trusted news will help you cut through the noise, and surface business-critical information to make smarter, faster decisions.

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Traci Mabrey is the Head of Factiva, a global news and business information database owned by Dow Jones.