Next-generation intranets: experiences with the consumer Web are raising people's expectations of information services in their workplace.

Author:Abrams, Stephen
Position:INFO TECH

Corporate library services are operating in an increasingly digital environment, one that is putting growing pressure on them to prove their value and integrate their services directly into business processes. The combination of rising end-user expectations and abundant digital data services and resources is prompting corporate libraries to re-think their service models and shift their strategic directions. Meanwhile, information overload is driving a demand for greater filtering and clarity to support scanning and help derive insight from massive quantities of information.

End users, for their part, are seeing that library services can save them time and are demanding higher-level services. They want more highlighting of critical content, summaries of complex documents, information organized into briefing packages with context and professional evaluations, analyses, charts, tables, and other visual tools for displaying information. They want to digest and understand information more quickly and easily and derive new insights from seeing information in multiple formats.

Indeed, one of my major takeaways from watching trends over the past few years is not that new technologies seem to appear suddenly on our radar screens to create new opportunities, but that user expectations change just as quickly in response to individual insights and behavior adjustments. Experiences with the consumer Web, largely driven by personal activities on Google, Facebook, Amazon, and eBay, have fired users' imaginations about how to apply these services to their workplace settings. However, many corporate end users often have a minimal understanding of the quality, licensing, cost, usage rights, copyright, legal, security and privacy issues associated with implementing these services in business settings. This is where professional librarians (allied with information technology professionals) fit in.

Consumer trends in technology, content and data, publishing, payment models, and learning are challenging corporate libraries to "up their game" to meet end-user expectations while simultaneously managing costs around implementation and development. As intranets become more usable within the workflow context and move away from serving as huge digital storage barns for information, many corporate librarians are seeking to influence and contribute leadership to more scalable research workflow initiatives in their companies and institutions. Here are 11 strategies I've observed:...

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