Satisfying "Infolust" with On-Demand Learning

Siri gets me -  even if it isn't usually at the literal level.  When my iPhone's "knowledge navigator" app doesn't understand what I'm asking her, she tends to chuck some terms into Google and, basically, asks if that'll help.

Okay, so it often doesn't. Still, her encoded instinct is right. Deep down, I'm dealing with a bad case of what Alison Bickford  called "infolust" in a recent blog.

It's a condition I've suffered my whole life and I doubt its a rare one. For those of us who grew up before the age of the Internet, we strove to satisfy it with enormous encyclopedia, reams of library microfiche and arcane computer databases that required a solid understanding of Boolean logic.

Maybe it's an inherited condition, because I remember everyone in my family rushing to fill whatever information voids manifested themselves around the kitchen table. Yes, maybe we wanted to win some argument about the world's tallest mountain or the date of some Civil War battle, but underlying that was something simpler: a desire to know and, in the end, to learn.

This desire is what made search engines their fortunes. But even Google, Yahoo! and Bing have not been able to reliably satisfy the needs of employees in the workplace. In fact, Bersin research shows that the yin and yang of information overload and lack of information-filtering tools are the top two challenges for knowledge workers.

Birkford's blog contains a nice table laying out the differences between "the world of online content" at home versus in corporations. One of the differences is related to search. Whereas at home people can use search engines that are powerful and personalized, at work search engines tend to be out-dated and, well, depersonalized.

She's right. I've been there, both as a content consumer and provider. However, at my current company, Bersin & Associates, the issues of search, personalization and knowledge management are taken very seriously indeed. In fact, we officially launched Bersin Insights® in order to provide our members with the ability to get the right people the right information at the right time. As our CEO Josh Bersin puts it, Insights is an "integrated information platform designed for the daily needs of HR executives and professionals."

I've been using it a while now in my daily work and have become a huge fan. But our own product aside, I think excellent information platforms (and I don't just mean LMS) are fast becoming essential for learning in today's organizations. They need to become part of the basic architecture of high-impact learning organizations. By focusing on these architectures, we can close the gap between the online worlds we access from home and from work. And we can make better progress toward satisfying our natural craving for on-demand learning in our corporations.

 -- Mark Vickers

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