We live in a connected world of digital information and immense data where access is about to expand yet further with the advance of 5G networks.
We can ‘see’ if a remote-controlled helicopter has successfully taken flight through data streams from Mars. It takes only moments for the pictures to be seen on earth.
We can measure and record the deepest oceans, their currents and temperatures, cloud formations, the intensity of storms and soon will have “local” weather forecasts street by street. Data gathered by the Met Office’s super Microsoft computers to predict weather patterns and forecasts grows ever more powerful and complete.
In the Covid world, data from our medics and scientists inform politician’s decisions, with data aggregated and shared across the world in moments. Digital data has truly become the lifeblood of our society.
The Information Professional
The information professional in an organization is the master of that organization’s data. Collections of data from a wide variety of sources are managed and stored to support the building of new knowledge, advancing ideas and providing data to support those directing the organization.
This data sits on a superhighway of information built by you in a variety of ways, in files, databases, communication links, web sites etc. Using the knowledge, records and archives of your organization you organize and sift it, arranging access to help your patrons find information, signposting data sources and providing data to service their enquiries every day.
The Patron Journey
There is hardly a day or an hour that goes by when we as individuals are not seeking an answer to a question. Every individual now knows how to perform online searches that helps them live their life: the best deal on a new mobile, the weather forecast for the weekend ahead or just to learn if it was indeed possible to fly a helicopter on Mars!
In the “old days” a patron came into the library and presented themselves at the enquiry desk. Now that individual arrives at their screen on an electronic device, to make an enquiry via the corporate information search portal. Looking for help and guidance, just the same: the latest published report, to request a book or to access and download a digital document safely stored in your database online.
The Super Digital Highway to Information
These new scenarios demand information management solutions where simplicity is essential. A search portal accessible on any type of device, with a clean, uncluttered search box from where a search term or phrase can be entered. We refer to search as ‘Google like’ because that’s what we have all become accustomed to, but in a corporate organisation pinpoint accuracy to the right data is called for. It’s much more demanding that a general search with Google delivering up what its latest algorithm thinks you want to know.
Search results have to be prepared taking into account security of access, the need for a particular sort order or relevance. Patrons might then wish to narrow and filter their results to see just that data which will answer their needs.
For over 30 years, (32 years to be precise) we too have been on a journey to help support and provide the very best in information management solutions for our clients and their patrons of the service. It’s a journey that started well before the internet became the ‘norm’.
Search: Turning up the Dial
We continuously seek out improvements to Search and have two significant changes to introduce into Search. The first is part of our normal upgrade service and will be released in a few weeks: we are expanding the facet search filter to narrow down search results, based on meta elements and attributes stored within the results shown on screen. Especially significant is the introduction of a new date search function, a fantastic way to assist those with historic collections and archives.
The facet search filter will still be subtle in design, clean and simple to use, but informative and a key aid to helping users find the materials they are seeking.
The second is an optional application (not part of our standard upgrade program) that integrates with Soutron to expand Search to web sites, data sets and other data that is outside of the library’s sources. We call it ASK Soutron from KARE, and it incorporates Natural Language Search, Artificial Intelligence and very fast search. It has the power to make any online enquiry service easier and more responsive to patrons. You can learn more about it here but the best way is to experience it is to see it in action.
The journey to connect data with patrons, end users and improve search and access to information is never ending.
We are all on that journey as information professionals. My question, always, is how fast do we want to travel, how fast can we travel and what is the direction we should take?
To learn more about our cloud-based solutions and how best to present your collections and information online, contact us today.
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