1997 Mid-Year Meeting

by Steve Hardin

SIG Session Summaries

Competitive Intelligence Perspectives: Impact and Implications (SIG/MGT)

The practical and academic sides of competitive intelligence (CI) were discussed at a SIG/Management (MGT) session at the recent ASIS Mid-Year Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona. Andre Gib of the Arizona Public Service Company joined the University of Tennessee's Carol Tenopir for the session.

Gib began by noting that competitive intelligence is a product and a process. It is actionable information used to assist in decision making as well as a systematic and continuous collection, evaluation and production of that actionable intelligence in an ethical and legal manner. He underlined that last point by noting the theft of proprietary information is now a crime, punishable by fines and imprisonment.

A business intelligence system is an organizational means by which companies learn about developments in the external business environment, understand its implications and enable those responsible to take appropriate and timely action. It organizes the flow of critical information and focuses it on operational and strategic issues in decisions.

Gib emphasized that competitive intelligence is not espionage. In fact, he said, he has found that there is no need to do espionage. Ninety percent of the information he needs is legally available; only five percent is trade secrets. He described getting two company brochures, putting them under a stereoscopic viewer and getting a 3-D view of the company's plant.

Much of CI, Gib said, is making sense of the mountain of data and information that is available. Analysis requires a data collection plan. He said he likes to work with a hypothesis and then compare it with the data, working it down to a one-page summary for his executives.

Tenopir, a professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, began her talk by noting that one of the problems with CI and other emerging fields is that there is no agreement on what the proper formal educational background is for people going into this line of work. She said that SCIP -- the Society of Competitive Information Professionals -- is doing a good job with continuing education. SCIP has been working on a recommended curriculum for the profession.

Because the field is, by nature, interdisciplinary, no one course in CI will be enough to qualify someone as a CI professional. Tenopir taught a course -- Environmental Scanning for Information Professionals -- that attracted students from information science, accounting and journalism/communications. Her co-teacher was a professor from the university's college of communications.

The main text for the course was Chun W. Choo's Information Management for the Intelligent Organization, an ASIS monograph. Chapters from the Annual Review of Information Science and Technology (ARIST) were also included. The syllabus is on the university's Web site (at www.utk.edu; choose Information Sciences from the alphabetical list, then choose graduate courses; the course number is 566).

Tenopir said there were three goals in this course:

The course, Tenopir noted, was not without its problems and issues. For example, she found the students disliked team teaching. They wondered where the buck stopped. The team approach also made it harder for students to predict what professors will like for exams and papers. There are variations in culture, too, depending on the students' backgrounds. Library students felt uncomfortable with the public relations part of the course. Journalism students valued different sources more than accounting students. The instructors also found that companies without a history of heavy use of information were unable to envision how they would use information from this area. They were willing to work with the educators, but didn't know what to do with the information. Tenopir concluded that educating CI professionals is critical, but educating the employers is just as important.

Knowledge Management: Managing Access to and Security of Databases (SIG/MGT)

Two speakers from private industry and one from academia discussed knowledge management, its implementation and related security issues at a session sponsored by SIG/MGT at the recent ASIS Mid-Year Meeting in Scottsdale.

Elizabeth Koska, information manager at Booz-Allen & Hamilton, defined knowledge management as the creation, capture, exchange, use and communication of a company's intellectual capital -- an organization's best thinking about its products, services, processes, markets and competitors. It also includes the people behind these things. She emphasized that knowledge management is not records management.

Booz-Allen & Hamilton has more than 7,000 employees in 25 countries. The company created a knowledge system to put its database on its wide area network (WAN). Knowledge On-Line (KOL) is a vehicle for stimulating idea exchange and getting information to people regardless of their location. KOL is intended to provide access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, around the world. Its content must have global appeal.

To do this, her group teams with the MIS department to ensure security and impenetrability through the use of systems such as firewalls. Passwords are essential. Policies need to be implemented for virus scanning. Koska recommended the implementation of a plan for seamless account creation. Determine early, she said, who has access. She also recommended defining ongoing management and termination policies to delete accounts as soon as possible.

Next, the audience heard from Nancy Lemon, the leader of Knowledge Resource Services for Owens-Corning. She described a recent study of knowledge management. She began by showing a pyramid, with wisdom on top, knowledge at the next level, followed by information and finally raw data on the bottom. Most librarians, she said, are working in the bottom tier and want to move up to wisdom. Analysts who can provide wisdom, she noted, will not be outsourced or replaced. Lemon noted that only about two percent of an organization's knowledge is both known and locatable. More is known but not locatable; that's where librarians are working. The hardest to handle, of course, is information that is both unknown and unlocatable. The located information that isn't known also has applications for librarians.

Owens-Corning's InfoMap is designed to provide a map to useful Internet resources, organized by subject. It sets up a virtual library on the Owens-Corning intranet to internal and external sources. Lemon noted the product must accommodate both information pull (Web) and information push (filter). Most organizations require a balance of both. The information map becomes the corporate memory of where the most useful sites are. So InfoMap also puts licensed resources at users desktop seamlessly.

Lemon next turned her attention to security. She said there are various knowledge "silos" at Owens-Corning. They need to be integrated with a knowledge map. The act of getting information must relate to business needs.

Lemon said Owens-Corning prefers Internet protocol (IP) recognition as opposed to passwords. This arrangement helps to limit the future access of people who leave the company. The intranet is open to all, but only the page owner can write to his or her page.

Finally, the audience heard from Michael Leach, head of the Harvard University Physics Research Library. Academic knowledge management, he said, involves an increased awareness of value and increased competitiveness in terms of research funds and overhead, scientific lead and jobs. With hiring freezes and/or downsizing, people in the department must do more with less. Leach said he hopes to catch all this in his knowledge management system.

The idea is to create a system to handle tasks for the library, the chair's office, computer/network support, purchasing, the administrative office and facilities maintenance. A need also exists for specialized knowledge, such as who is trained in what special software, who has the departmental memories, who has special equipment, who is in charge and miscellaneous other knowledge.

Leach said the plan is to put the knowledge database on an old Sun SPARCstation 330 with 15 ports, 1.2 gigabytes of disk space, using the Sun OS, release 4.3. It must be made available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It must be easy to use, with a GUI. It must be intuitive and require minimal training. And it must operate on multiple computer platforms.

The system will be Web-based, Leach said. The managers already have a Web server. Clients will all be Netscape Navigator. They will use the Ingress database system, already loaded with no additional cost. The search engine is still being debated.

Security will be maintained through IP and password access, which limits by LAN and by individual. The system also has PGP (pretty good privacy) encryption for important information, available for free. People have been trying to inform staff and faculty of the importance of security, common threats and the individual's responsibility.

Electronic Course Resources: Fair Use and Copyright Issues (SIG/ED)

Five speakers addressed some of the fair use and copyright issues surrounding electronic course reserves in a SIG/Education (ED) session at the recent ASIS Mid-Year Meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The first speaker was Stuart Sutton of Syracuse University, formerly the library director at San Jose State University, which has a geographically distributed collection. Sutton outlined two "frames of reference" for electronic reserves. The first includes the perception that digital reserves may coexist with traditional paper reserves and be treated basically the same way. In this scenario, reserves are treated as a scarce commodity. The idea behind electronic reserves, then, is to reduce the scarcity.

The consensus is that providing students a photocopy from which to make copies comes under the provisions of fair use. He believes the same should hold true for digital reserves. But different publishers interpret the matter differently. Sutton said the assertion that the photocopy is covered by fair use assumes the electronic form came from hard copy. It is different when the original form is digital.

The second frame of reference, Sutton said, is dynamic. At San Jose State, the decision was made to produce digital reserves for all the courses in the core curriculum. Faculty wanted to create an authorizing space where they could write annotations to the texts and create links to other resources on the Internet.

There are, however, potential legal problems, Sutton noted. Does the act of scanning have copyright implications beyond traditional copying for digital reserves? What are the copyright implications for the hypertext links to and from the document? Are these all impermissible? If so, where does fair use fit in? Sutton acknowledged he doesn't have the answers, but these developments represent big changes in our understanding of copyright.

Next, Ralph Moon, acting director of library systems at the University of California at Berkeley, discussed the MusiLan Project, an online listening reserve system for the School of Music. The idea was to provide precise access to digital sound via the Web.

Faculty members fill out a form when they request that a selection be placed on reserve. Sound files are created and the database is updated. The database is used to create, on the fly, pages from which students can select items for listening. Several copyright questions have come up: one, the making of the audio files, and two, the playing of those files. The project's managers decided to limit access to specific stations in music classrooms and the Music Library. The use of streaming audio, rather than download and play, prevents people from making illegal copies of the sound files.

The basis of fair use involves the purpose or character of use (commercial or educational), the nature of the work, the amount used in relation to the whole and the impact on the market for the work. The copyright of music underlying a recording is usually held by the composer or publisher; ASCAP and BMI function something like the Copyright Clearance Center on behalf of copyright holders. The typical copyright holder for the sound performance of a work is a record company.

The Digital Performance Right in Sound Records Bill of 1995 grants performance rights for the transmission of copyright musical works on digital audio cable services, satellite music services and other digital subscription services. This situation could impact MusiLan if MusiLan can be demonstrated to be outside the fair use provisions. Moon believes, however, that it is within those provisions. It is educational, with no known impact on the market, and the guidelines for the educational uses of music allow for the creation and retention of a copy of a copyrighted recording for use in aural exercises.

Still, MusiLan is in the gray area, Moon said. He concluded that the gray area may be the worst place to be -- except all the others.

Finally, Samantha Hastings, Ken Madden and Kim Kilman of the University of North Texas talked about the INDZONE project, which Madden described as an electronic archive experiment designed to provide access to required reserve materials without a physical trip to the library. Also it was seen as a means for reducing copy costs and saving paper while preserving the original quality of reserve articles. The project involved scanning articles, cleanup, assignment of index terms, vocabulary control, linking graphics to full-text articles, annotations and abstracts, investigation of copyright issues, evaluation and testing. Access was restricted by password.

Hastings told the audience that getting the copyright permissions they needed "was a nightmare," not because the copyright holders were tough, but because they didn't know what to say.

Kilman discussed evaluation of the INDZONE project. A survey indicated that users liked the layout and design, the saving of money and time, logical structure, quick response and avoidance of photocopy machines. They disliked navigation within articles, the project's requiring online searching experience, the fact that not all files were usable on a text-only browser and finding inactive hyperlinks. Nevertheless, Kilman said 90% of the survey respondents preferred the electronic archive to making photocopies.

Steve Hardin is associate librarian, Cunningham Memorial Library, Indiana State University. Before launching his career in librarianship, Steve was a broadcast journalist. He is currently serving a term as ASIS Director-at-Large.