When Search Gets in the Way

Miles McNamee_CCC

Miles McNamee

This guest blog post is by Miles McNamee. Miles McNamee is Vice President, Licensing and Business Development, overseeing business development efforts and licensing of all CCC products and services.  

In many organizations, innovation results from talented and insightful people working together to identify and solve problems and satisfy market needs. At the core of this activity is information. Despite a surplus of content, today’s employees are caught in an endless loop of searches pursuing relevant and credible information. From scientific, technical and medical research to business and financial news, your colleagues depend on published material. But when obstacles prevent your R&D team and other staff members from finding the information they need, the cost to your business is tangible. In fact, according to research and advisory firm Outsell Inc., in its “Knowledge Workers: 2013 Trends that Matter” report, 43% of knowledge workers blamed time constraints for getting in the way of acquiring information; 24% cited the absence of support staff in their company as another major obstacle. When employees spend too much time searching for information instead of analyzing it and making decisions, the organization feels the impact in loss of productivity, silencing of innovation, and delays in getting products to market. Colleagues with immediate, time-sensitive content needs require clearer and faster routes to that published material. To clear obstacles to information and help get your colleagues out of search mode, you can take steps in three areas:

Shorten the Distance between Employees and Content

Your colleagues have access to an enormous information landscape, but much of it is uncharted, fragmented and difficult to navigate. From search engines and Open Access platforms to publisher websites and your own internal library, they use numerous information sources and a multitude of access points. When they are kept at a distance from vital content, whether due to licensing issues, difficulty in navigating complex websites or a deficit in research skills, both time and money are wasted. You’ve invested in content subscriptions and document delivery because you appreciate the value these resources bring to the organization, but do your colleagues know that these materials are available to them or how to search those holdings? If you are already using collaboration tools or have an internal library, are employees aware of whether a subscription is already in place, if the materials are Open Access, or if an article was already previously purchased through document delivery? If not, they may end up buying content your organization has already paid for. If an employee orders an article, can his or her colleagues see it in your company library? Connecting people with the information you bring into the organization helps you derive the most value from that investment. Knowing which information is in high demand is critical to tailoring your holdings to the specific needs of the organization. Equally critical is having a clear picture of how much you are spending on subscriptions and document delivery. For example, there may be opportunities to save money by getting a subscription instead of purchasing individual articles. Having usage and cost data will help you quantify the value of the material you acquire and ensure that you are meeting the information needs of your employees. It can also help you get the most from your content budget. When looking for ways to address these challenges, consider technology solutions that allow visibility into your organization’s content holdings, help you track usage and spending, and most importantly, give hours back to your highly-skilled and busy colleagues.

Promote Credible Sources of Information

In addition to the complexities of access and discoverability in this content-rich environment, there are questions of credibility. In a digital world where virtually anyone can publish information, how reliable are the many information sources your colleagues encounter? Nearly one-third (29%) of Outsell study participants cited source credibility as a major obstacle in getting information. Employees interact with a variety of sources every day, from peer-reviewed scholarly journals published by universities, societies and commercial publishers to small publications with questionable review processes and dubious claims of expertise. While citation databases can give further insight into source credibility, consulting them is one more obstacle between your colleagues and the right content. Further complicating this issue is the prominence of Open Access journals, which have sprung up over the last decade. With varying levels of peer review, these journals present additional challenges to employees requiring more scrutiny and verification. Consider ways to connect your colleagues to the best, most credible information sources your organization has acquired. Your content holdings reflect a careful selection of top journals, databases, newspapers and other publications to equip your employees with the material they need to stay informed, be inspired, and innovate. Since you’ve done the work in vetting these information sources, there should be no question about their credibility. Pointing your colleagues to these sources will go a long way in reducing the time they spend qualifying information.

Provide Visibility into Content Use Rights

In addition to the challenges of information search and source credibility, other issues could bar your colleagues from sharing that material with others. According to Outsell’s 2013 Information Consumption and Use Study, more than 40% of the content employees share comes from outside sources. And they do share. In fact, business professionals share published information at an average rate of 34 times a week. Take a look at your rights licenses for content usage. Do they offer consistent usage rights across publishers and/or platforms for colleagues to share published material? And do they cover sharing of the many different information sources colleagues rely on? If your employees are based in multiple countries, you need to assess whether your licenses allow cross-border content sharing. Licenses from individual publishers can vary widely and leave gaps in your coverage. A license from a rights aggregator, which offers rights to share material from many different copyright holders, can make your life much easier. Consider how easy or difficult it is for employees to see the rights they have. Giving them visibility into your licenses will make it easier for them to share content more quickly with team members and other colleagues, get the most value from your subscriptions, and minimize your organization’s infringement risk.

Behind every innovation is the exchange of information, but getting to that information is often a long, frustrating road. Time spent searching for content means less time and energy to analyze and solve problems, make key decisions, and bring products and services to market. Streamlining the research process and understanding how those in your organization use and share published information can help you save time and money, increase employee productivity and innovation, minimize infringement risk, and get the most value from the content to which your organization subscribes. Content workflow and compliance solutions from companies like Copyright Clearance Center, for example, can help you maximize your content and licensing investments, save money by operating more efficiently, and drive innovation to support business success.

Miles McNamee is Vice President, Licensing and Business Development, overseeing business development efforts and licensing of all CCC products and services.  He works with rightsholders to create licensing solutions that better monetize emerging multimedia and online publishing initiatives.  Miles brings 20 years of experience in business development, sales and marketing from companies such as Starz Encore Group LLC, Microware Systems, TCI, Continental Cablevision and Showtime Networks. He holds a bachelor of science in marketing from Bryant College.

Copyright Clearance Center is a Gold Partner of the SLA 2014 Annual Conference & INFO-EXPO. You can connect with them directly at either of their exhibitor theater presentations (Monday/Tuesday), during the Rising Stars & Fellows Roundtable, as well as at booth 430 in the INFO-EXPO hall.

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