Information vs Knowledge Worker

1 minute read

I’ve spent the past couple of days in Redmond, WA at Microsoft’s Enterprise Partner Summit. A term Microsoft uses just about everywhere is “Information Worker”. They have entire business units formed around “IW”.

This nomenclature is inaccurate, in my opinion, in describing the customer or people that it is being applied to.

Information these days is everywhere, is useless by itself, and has only minimal value. It’s only when you can apply organization and intelligence to the information thereby converting it to knowledge that makes information useful and valuable.

The term coined by Peter Drucker in the 70’s is more appropriate for describing the people that do this: knowledge worker. A knowledge worker applies expertise to information to create products, make decisions, etc based on the expertise of the subject material they are responsible for. The people within your organization that poses the talent of converting information to knowledge should be some of the most valued assets you have.

An information worker is akin to workers hired to manually go through and pick tomatoes. The crop by itself has value, but the value can be increased substantially when a knowledge worker combines a variety of resources along with their skills to produce something more valuable.


Knowledge workers add value to the information and make information more than just noise. Information work can be automated, knowledge work is not so easily replaced.

As organizations navigate their way through this recession it is the knowledge worker and the unique skills and talent that organizations need to guard and protect. Because it is the unique knowledge of the organization that is ultimately its most valuable resource and will be in the most high demand both during and after the recession.

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