Putting a Thousand Articles in Your Pocket

Remember when Steve Jobs said the Apple iPod would put 1,000 songs in your pocket? Angela McKane did—and she used a variation of that pitch to convince executives at BP to let her team create an app that would ultimately replace the company’s physical library.

Angela, who heads Technology Intelligence at BP, helped lead a transformation of the information service at BP from a traditional library function to a proactive, decision intelligence service. As part of that transformation, her team took the library mobile, enabling it to serve employees around the globe rather than just those located near the physical space.

“Making a pitch for a library app, my team and I told company executives that, although the days of the corporate library space were numbered, we were on the cusp of enabling BP employees to carry around 1,000 articles in their pockets,” Angela writes in the May-June 2018 issue of SLA’s online magazine, Information Outlook. “The app . . . attracted 1,000 active users within 12 months. Adoption then doubled to 2,000 users, and it’s still growing. These numbers, coupled with the thousands of BP employees who visit the digital library platform on their desktop PCs each day, testify to the value of digitally transforming what had been seen as a dying service.”

The transformation from physical to mobile, from information to intelligence, generated some regret and resistance. Even today, more than two years after the app’s launch, some old habits are proving hard to break.

“In today’s big-data world, where a search can reap terabytes of results (much of it of uncertain provenance), the ability to gather high-quality information and distill it into decision-ready insights is a skill not to be underestimated,” Angela writes. “So I continually ask my colleagues in business development and beyond why they waste time searching for information. The Technology Intelligence team can conduct a broad and deep search of high-quality resources, assess the key data, and provide actionable insights that support a decision to go for it (or not) in any situation.”

The story of the transformation of the BP information service is one of three articles on change in the May-June issue of Information Outlook. To read the full issue, click here. Not an SLA member? Join today!

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