At the Crossroads of Technology and Information

How to Increase the Strategic Value of Corporate Information Centres

  • © A-Libray/iStockphoto© A-Libray/iStockphoto

With the FDA approving the first 3D printed drug in 2016, emerging technologies are having a significant effect on the pharmaceutical industry. And it’s not just on the patient side where disruption is taking place: dissemination of information throughout the company is changing significantly. Traditional corporate libraries, once the principal source of information for the R&D staff, are accelerating their transformation into virtual information services, delivering material online in digital form to cater to the individual needs of users who consume information in a range of different ways. These challenges also present companies with major opportunities, not only for researchers who want unparalleled access to a broader database of information, but also for librarians who must now tailor their services to better meet the changing needs of users throughout the changing company.

Enterprise Content Workflow: Discovering the Unknown

Providing researchers with relevant and timely information is an essential part of modern research to develop breakthrough medicines for patients. In the Information Centre at UCB, part of the strategic planning process is to discuss what the next big game changer might be and how the team can take advantage of it. This annual exercise involves an assessment of new ways in which users might use and access materials, including things like text mining millions of scientific articles to find a deeper insight, or accessing the library’s entire collection from a mobile phone. Technology plays an important part in the forward-thinking process, connecting and enabling a researcher to facilitate deeper understanding.

There are many content management platforms on the market designed to meet a multitude of needs and a thorough assessment of this landscape is essential to assessing and understanding the value that such solutions can bring to the enterprise.

Understanding the intended business use is critical in selecting the right solution and often there will be a number of content management platforms within any one organisation.

For the information professional, this might mean a search and discovery tool, or it could be a solution that facilitates deeper insight and combines both internal and external data.

One of the requirements for UCB’s information centre was to have a solution that could provide an integrated rights management capability to support the organisation in compliant access to externally published information.

RightFind from RightsDirect is one example that demonstrates this and is a global discovery platform that provides integrated seamless access to information for researchers across the organisation.

The platform makes vast amounts of rich subscription content visible to users that is available from within their own library. Optional modules allow researchers to search for information from millions of articles published in hundreds of scientific journals through data mining, even when existing licenses or subscriptions do not exist. Because RightFind indicates to the researcher if their intended use for the content is covered by an existing license, information centre staff are not constantly asked for guidance on copyright compliance. Additionally, its Content Decision Support offers help in aligning content spend with researcher needs to make informed content purchases.

Skills Assessment: Understanding Your Core Competence

In a world where flat or decreasing budgets, higher content costs and staffing restrictions are the norm, it’s important that information services are viewed as a strategic area of the business rather than just a service. This means both understanding the department’s core competences and building these up to meet the needs of end users, as well as knowing the stakeholders in the organization and finding champions for the information services that are offered.

With any good information centre strategy, an assessment of skills at the organisational level is critical, i.e. identifying those departments and functions that are good collaborators and are willing to work and engage with the library team. There are various approaches for doing this but plotting departments into a matrix to identify easy wins, or “trusted partners” as well as those groups that might present more of a challenge is a good approach, presenting a picture of where the information centre must place the biggest effort.

By visiting these departments and understanding their strengths as well as their information requirements, one can also build upon the skills and competencies that perhaps are not available within your immediate department but which can be leveraged in a cross-collaborative way, an important aspect when resources are limited.

Analytics: the Key to Delivering Strategic Value

Often, researchers aren’t aware of the depth of information available to them. Helping them understand the full benefits of the library and how to access the wealth of information at their fingertips is essential to getting maximum return on investment from the content offered.

RightFind can support a truly global workforce across many countries. Its analytical capabilities enable transparency about which teams are and are not using the library’s resources. Library staff can then work out where more effort is needed to educate users. Creating “activity landscapes” to understand where the department needs to concentrate its efforts, like placing greater emphasis on training, or outreach or maximizing multi-communication channels, which has been beneficial within UCB.

Measuring and analysing users’ search activity also makes it easier to quantify the strategic value to the organisation and present it to decision makers and other departments. Usage-driven content analytics has enabled the company to show the value of content against usage across the enterprise, for example the volume of documents sourced in a particular subject area against cost.

In our ever-more connected world, with discussions about articles taking place across a multitude of platforms, websites and newsfeeds, social media has an important role to play in understanding the scientific impact of information. The recent growth of altmetric data can help librarians track additional value of information assets, such as the reports, articles and scientific papers their organizations publish.


Six steps to building a powerful corporate information centre

  • Be aware of disruptive technologies
  • Analyse and understand your core competencies
  • Quantify your ROI with statistics
  • Identify your user champions
  • Build relationships with other departments
  • Leverage other resources within your company

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