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SLA Report: Meri Meredith
When Too Much Is Not Enough: Utilizing Country Information
Lou Celi, managing director of EIU Electronic, The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), did an excellent job of presenting a new digital suite of information services available from the EIU. The EIU, the business-to-business arm of The Economist Group, is one of the world's leading providers of country intelligence, with over 500,000 customers in corporations, banks, universities and government institutions. The Economist Group also publishes The Economist, CFO Magazine, The Journal of Commerce, and Roll Call and owns Pyramid Research, a widely respected provider of telecommunications research. The EIU's global network comprises more than 500 specialist business analysts, economists, and editors working in more than 100 countries.
The EIU is recognized for the accuracy and independence of its global business analysis. They provide timely and independent analysis of world events with consistent economic and market data across 195 countries. They have a reputation for quality and reliability, which means users can make like-for-like comparisons of economic trends between countries as diverse as Brazil, Poland and China. The data can be delivered in the format of choice be it the Internet, direct network feeds, Lotus Notes, CD-ROM, printed reports or custom analysis.
To meet the needs of executives in the digital age, the EIU has developed a portfolio of leading electronic services. These services include: eiu.com, a virtual library offering all of the EIU's publications on a subscription or pay-as-you-go basis; EIU ViewsWire, a daily intelligence service on 195 countries; EIU ebusiness forum, a portal-to-global analysis on e-business; and EIU CountryData, a database of worldwide economic indicators and forecasts. Available individually or packaged together as a seamless digital toolkit these services enable executives to track fast-changing global developments, analyze current and future trends and conduct instant research on an extensive database.
The EIU's complete portfolio of country, industry and management publications, as well as other Economist Group publications, is available over the Internet at eiu.com Updated continuously, eiu.com contains the latest analysis on more than 200 publications, including Country Reports, Country Forecasts, Country Risk Service, Business Newletters and Research Reports, including a two-year archive. The database can be searched by country, title or free text. In addition, eiu.com enables you to create your own knowledge system, by giving any number of networked users within your organisation access to the content they want. You may also obtain any one of the EIU titles by record, publication or subscription through the EIU Online Store.
The EIU ViewsWire links the connectivity of the Web with editorial resources of the Economist Intelligence Unit to deliver a daily business monitoring service. Every day, the EIU ViewsWire highlights key political, economic and business developments in 195 countries and analyses the implications for companies. Unlike traditional news services, the EIU ViewsWire combines these briefings with a constantly updated database of country forecasts, risk assessments, regulations and background data. The service draws on the full information resources of The Economist Group, as well as highly regarded sources outside the Group, such as the Financial Times, OECD and the World Bank.
Covering 117 countries and 39 aggregated regions, EIU CountryData is a comprehensive source of economic indicators and forecasts. EIU CountryData gives you access to 271 economic series per country such as real and nominal GDP, PPP, exchange rates, forecasts and labor cost per hour over 1,000,000 individual data points for the period 1980-2004. Complex calculations and graphical operations can be performed. The results can be downloaded into reports, presentations, other databases or modelling packages. EIU CountryData is available in several different formats via the Internet or in CD-ROM.
The EIU ebusiness forum brings senior executives together to learn about leading-edge global ebusiness strategies. The site has five main content areas: Thought Leadership, which provides a series of concise, executive briefings that are international in scope; Best Practice, which includes case studies demonstrating how leading international companies are exploiting the Internet; Global News Analysis, which features short, analytical articles that help executives track international Internet and e-commerce issues; Research, which provides valuable analysis from the EIU and other leading expert sources; and Doing e-business in ..., which takes a country-by-country look at e-business market conditions and regulations around the world. Executives will also have the opportunity to interact with their peers and EIU analysts. The EIU ebusiness forum is free but it is suggested that you register at the site to receive added benefits, such as weekly alerts and message boards.
One final product to mention is CountryNet. CountryNet is an Internet-based information center for international assignees and international business travellers, with information available for over 80 countries. CountryNet provides employees within your organisation with information about living, working and conducting business outside their home country.
Be sure to visit www.eiu.com for quality information on countries, strategic industries and corporate best practices.
College and University Business Libraries Roundtable: Innovative Teaching by Librarians and the Internet
Elizabeth Bibby, Baker Library, Harvard Business School, was the first of four speakers. The Harvard Business School uses the case study teaching method. Students must hook into their classes through the electronic format in order to get to the syllabus, the assignments, and other information. Professors are also required to use electronic formats. There is a technological infrastructure support; a Web-based teaching strategy supports the courses. One project developed a course support to help students learn how to run and grow a small company. Harvard also offers field study placements.
Eileen G. Abels' research focuses on remote reference services and business information needs. Abels, from the College of Information Studies, University of Maryland, is currently testing methods of information delivery to business school students using the Robert H. Smith School of Business as a testbed. One can reach her at email@example.com Abels' presentation was about integrating instruction and research. Not an easy feat when the end-user does not want to be taught. As Sir Winston Churchill put it, "Personally, I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like being taught". End-users need a context to their instruction. In an RHS (Robert H. Smith) study such problems as asking the right questions, selecting the right sources, developing strategies, and formulating successful queries surfaced. According to Peter Drucker, many do not know what information is needed to do the job or in what format it is needed.
The Virtual Business Information Center (http://vbic.umd.edu) is access-ed by topic and subtopics, not by sources. They are developing a resource that reflects the users' needs and information-seeking behavior: topics and questions, not source type. The services provided assist users in asking the right questions and selecting sources rather than listing sources. Ultimately, the site will provide answer maps to commonly asked questions.
Abels applied the 80/20 rule to the business questions. In other words, some common business research questions are asked over and over. Such questions include: how to compare the performance of one company to another company or industry; how one enters a new market; detecting emerging companies or industries; starting a new business venture; and preparing for merger and acquisition activity. She then devised an answer map of a flow chart type. First, was a guide to help the user through the process of answering a basic research question. The user breaks the overall question into smaller questions in modular format. Then the user selects the sources for answering the questions. Finally, the user provides assistance in utilizing the sources.
A sample Answer Map can be found at (http://vbic.umd.edu/coreresearch.html). This is a step-by-step approach based on the questions. One needs to identify questions related to the task and then identify "best" sources to answer the questions. The flow chart approach was developed by Cassandra Shieh on "Monitoring Your competitor." The next question was "How to best implement?" Then came the implementation of the concept. She had to develop a question-based industry research module, designed so it can be utilized for different audiences and adapted to multiple disciplines.
Enter Laura Gordon-Murnane, who is with the Bureau of National Affairs. Gordon-Murnane described another way of implementing the guided research approach. The module is divided into seven subcategories for industry research: Industry structure; Industry overview and history; Industry statistics; Company research; Product research; Market research; and Environmental scan. Within each of the subcategories one will find frequently asked questions, key points, including reference and links to sources free, fee-based, Web resources and print collections. The module can be found at http://teal.umd.edu/research/ The next step was to address the adaptability part. Initially it was designed for "Access to a business information class". Eventually it could be adapted for the University of Maryland MBA students. Currently, it is being adapted to fit the needs of employees at the Bureau of National Affairs, Inc. The disciplines being considered include law, business, health, and others.
In conclusion, the project integrated instruction into the research process, targeted the information needs of a specific audience, developed a question-based approach to conducting research, utilized resources and tools available in the organization, and could be adapted to different user groups, in different settings, and for different disciplines. For further information visit their Web sites: http://www.vbic.umd.edu and http://www.vbic.umd.edu/research/index.html Eileen Abel's e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org and Laura Gordon-Murnane's e-mail is Lgmurnane@yahoo.com
Babson College offers a BS in Commerce and MBA degrees and has an executive education programs. There are 159 full-time faculty and 1,700 graduate and 1,700 undergraduate students. The Library Navigator is used as a portal to the Internet versus the E-Library which uses the campus intranet. The Internet site will get one to the catalog, databases, Electronic Resources, Research guides, Library Services and Assignment tips.
According to Hope Tillman, Director of Libraries, Babson College, the Intranet E-Library was developed this past year to handle restricted access. Therefore the user must enter a user name and password. It provides access to services such as interlibrary loan, electronic reserves and "Ask a reference question". The passwording keeps out those not authorized to use restricted library services. Each week a quick tip is given to intrigue users to come into the E-Library; the example on the screen shows how to use the RDS Bizsuite for market share and size. E-Library uses easy-to-complete templates rather than HTML. The librarians are working with faculty to develop intranet access to full text of course reserves. Only students taking the specific class have access to reserves for that site.
E-campus, the campus intranet, is used for intranet-related purposes. The library, for example, has a site specifically for its Faculty Library Committee. Faculty develop Web sites for each of their courses and interact with their students within those sites, using syllabi pages and discussion threads, as well as providing other information. The librarians work with faculty to add library-related services for specific courses. Live chats are expected soon. The lessons learned during the project are to the need to have better understanding of navigational products and continuing to educate students and faculty about the services Babson College can provide. The Web site for Babson is http://www.babson.edu and the e-mail for Tillman is email@example.com
Library Education in 2000
David Fenske, dean, College of Information Science and Technology, Drexel University, and Issac L. Auerbach, professor, gave an excellent overview of information science and information systems at Drexel and how, through collaborative efforts, they complement each other. The College is ranked number one in information systems and ninth in information science. In the last ten to 15 years, technology has had a tremendous impact on information science and it is deeply embedded in their curriculum. There has been an integration of traditional values, such as reference, with Web-enabled, technology-based services. He sees them as clusters. Distance learning is seen as a proving ground and delivery mechanism. In the near term, he sees a globalization of distance education managing rapid growth in a high-demand marketplace.
The College of Information Science and Technology (IST) offers several degrees, some traditional and some not so traditional. They include a Master of Science in Library and Information Science, a Master of Science in Information Systems, a Master of Science in Software Engineering, a Master of Science with a concentration in Management of Digital Information, a PhD in Information Science and Technology and an Online Certificate in Competitive Intelligence.
The MS in Library and Information Science is the second oldest in the USA. The school has 1,100 students and is renowned for its technical and strong career focus. It has one of the nation's oldest and largest cooperative education programs. The faculty not only hold PhDs, but also have extensive experience in the workplace. IST offers a unique combination of information content and technology, business strategy and organizational focus.
The College offers a Master of Science in Information online via the Internet as well as an MS with a concentration in management of digital information. These programs offer students and faculty alike convenience and flexibility. The students have more contact with faculty and fellow students. The average age of the student is 37-years old. Group projects provide an intensive learning experience. Students do need guidance to operate in an online environment. Faculty must rethink their approaches to teaching, but they are highly motivated and enjoy working in this collaborative way. Students do expect faster feedback. They are professional and highly self-motivated with regular participation and excellent communications skills. The reason for this MSIS online degree is that it reached variable markets, globalizes distance learning, provides distributive faculty and reaches people who could not otherwise be reached. There is differential pricing depending on the country and a need to address different cultures.
Global demand is driving electronic education. In 1999 in the USA alone 350,000 jobs were unfilled. By 2005, 25 to 33 percent of school librarians are likely to retire. This would imply there is going to be a tremendous shortage of librarians. IST enrollment was 1,325 for the year 2000, a 20 percent increase. A collaborative effort between industry and academic partnering is taking place. Many small companies have no R&D. Jobs in knowledge management, competitive intelligence, E-commerce, data warehousing and mining, web design, and software engineering are in abundance.
The merger of MCP Hahneman University and Drexel (IHI) brings together research, education, and practice to provide solutions in the healthcare industry. Fenske sees what he calls a "digital divide". The Internet is not universally accessible like the telephone, radio, or newspaper. There are concerns that the gap is widening based on race and economic circumstances. Libraries are helping to fill that gap. The digital dilemma is in archiving data. One cannot read a disc that is 20-years old. Therefore a great deal of data will be lost. Fenske sees great demand and opportunities ahead for library schools. Visit him at http://www.cis.drexel.edu
Meri Meredith is Assistant Professor, Business Library, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio. firstname.lastname@example.org