A new survey sponsored by LexisNexis U.S., a provider of legal, business, and news information, shows that a strategic shift is occurring in the information professional market as individuals are challenged with providing more value to their organizations and aligning themselves closer to profit centers. Ninety-one percent of respondents agree that their roles have shifted from information gatherer to information consultant. Highlights of the survey include the fact that 69% cite that "adding value back to the organization to meet its business goals" as one of their top priorities for the future; 67% point to "improving the quality, efficiency and value of information as a business and competitive asset." Improving the productivity and business impact of information technology and services is central to the librarian's enhanced role, with the highest priorities being "upgrading services to take advantage of new technology" (64%), "increasing employee productivity in their information use" (58%), and "managing more information with fewer resources" (58%). Information professionals are on the cutting edge of leveraging technology to make information more valuable, relevant and accessible, with 85% of librarians saying they currently use intranets for managing and distributing information, and seeing collaborative workspaces (55%), wireless (53%), and portals (51%) as very important for the future.
The survey also identified three major trends based on the results. Information professionals are charged with developing a stronger mastery of technology and understanding of the tools available on the market. Ninety percent are now involved in the evaluation and review of new technologies and services, with 51% highly involved in the selection of these services. Ninety-one percent have become more involved in training internal clients to use information services more effectively. Respondents see this trend continuing, reporting that they see themselves becoming more directly involved with information technology and how it relates to the information within the company. Information professionals are challenged to understand the business in which they operate, and deliver results that are more relevant to the business. Information professionals realize that they need to become more aligned with the organization in order to provide value. They identify the following as their highest priorities in the future, to align themselves with the business: Continuing to add more value back to the organization to meet its business goals; Moving into a strategic role internally; collaborating with business development; and Understanding the context behind their client's needs. Information professionals are being underused in their organizations.
Just as their managers are focused on establishing greater productivity and yield with fewer resources, information professionals know that they must set priorities within their organizations for better packaging and delivery of information. However, the survey shows that while respondents are aware of these issues, 59% feel that they are underused when it comes to helping internal clients prioritize research requests for value/efficiency. An additional 47% believe that they are not fully exploited for their analysis and interpretation of information. The survey was conducted in May 2003 by Insight Express, a professional online research firm, and was anonymously sponsored by LexisNexis.