Take the Wheel and Help Drive Your Organization

Drivers—or, increasingly, the lack of them—are all the rage these days.

Over the past five years, two ride-sharing services, Uber and Lyft, have upended the roughly $100 billion global taxicab industry (Damodaran 2014) by creating apps that match people who need to go places with drivers who will take them in their own cars. Then, in August 2016, Uber acquired Otto, a start-up firm that is working to develop self-driving trucks; two months later, an Otto truck made its first driverless delivery, taking 50,000 cans of beer from a brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado, to a customer in Colorado Springs, more than 100 miles away. In December, online retailer Amazon made good on founder Jeff Bezos’s 2013 boast by using a drone to deliver a package from an Amazon warehouse in England to a customer in Cambridgeshire.

Driverless technology may indeed be the future of transportation, but in business, drivers are paramount. They dictate everything from how and where an organization spends its money to the people it hires and fires, the products it makes, and the services it provides. So it stands to reason that librarians and information professionals need to know what drives their organization and align their services accordingly.

The November-December 2016 issue of Information Outlook offers some insights into this process. Phil Faust, vice president of academic products at Gale, writes that academic librarians are beginning to play a greater role in two areas that are driving universities’ decision making and goal setting—enhancing digital scholarship efforts and helping make college more affordable. Alexander van Boetzelaer, managing director of global research and development solutions for Elsevier, notes that businesses are always rethinking their goals in light of changing market conditions and recommends several strategies that special librarians can take to stay current on what’s driving their organization.

“Once you understand the organization’s drivers, do something meaningful with that knowledge,” van Boetzelaer writes. “Secure in your skills, and knowing how to quickly determine the overarching drivers of any business . . . you are in a good position to show value in your current role.”

To learn more about how to identify business drivers and put your skills to use supporting your organization’s drivers, read the articles by Faust and van Boetzelaer in Information Outlook.


Damodaran, Aswath. 2014. Uber Isn’t Worth $17 Billion. Blog post. FiveThirtyEight, June 18.

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