The statement, in any case, was not 100% true, you cannot Google how or why I learnt the information, my drive to understand certain things in detail or how my collective experience influences how I apply the knowledge to a specific problem. I have since come across a quote which might have been more appropriate for that particular meeting.
It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it (Upton Sinclair)
The context of the original conversation was a change of management issue, information was not a problem - it was how people were seeking or applying it that was preventing this particular company realising the benefits of its technology investments. The surprised look, I assume, was because I said this in front of a client; as if somehow, people who work for a technology company are the only ones who know that since the 2007 launch of Universal search from Google, it is relatively easy to find almost anything. This simple and increasingly ubiquitous access has even become an area of research into its psychological effects http://academicearth.org/electives/internet-changing-your-brain/
We should not give everything away for free but I believe that many technology companies are starving innovation by protecting what is already public knowledge or is actually someone else's IP. It is reduced or no investment in the thought and time required to innovate because an organisation thinks it has something to protect. I benefited from working with a group of talented infrastructure engineers early in my career; many technical people at that time embodied a culture of knowledge is power. One of the principal consultants was noticeably opposite to this culture and when I asked him why this was, he explained ‘I want you to know everything that I know. Simply, if you can do what I do now, that gives me time to learn something new’.
I refer to that conversation often and I believe that many technology companies would do well to share their understanding of the IT Industry, making it easier for their clients to take advantage of technology. By doing so I believe they would find it easier to become trusted advisors for more clients but it will also allow them to focus on learning, innovating and generating new value through genuine Intellectual Property. I will end this article with an appropriate quote of my own.
If you want to be known as a thought leader you are going to have to share your thoughts.