Company: Business ObjectsCustomer: TalisSubmitted by: KaizoTalis, the UK’s leading provider of library information systems, is using WebIntelligence from Business Objects, the leading provider of e-business intelligence solutions, to deliver its Library Management system over the Worldwide Web, supporting the diverse information needs of libraries.

Talis Library Management Systems

Talis Information provides library information systems to over 100 public, university and college libraries across the UK and Ireland using the Talis Library Management system. Talis also offers value added services relating to electronic data interchange and cataloguing. Working with major book suppliers, the company has a strategic focus on assisting libraries and the library supply chain to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible, by making use of the latest Internet technology.In addition, Talis also provides its library customers with online access to 17 million shared bibliographic records through the Talis central database services.

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As Robert Watson, Product Manager at Talis explains, “By using the Internet to open up resources to millions of registered library users, Talis is making public resources available to everyone.”The Talis Library Management Information System is a web-based business intelligence solution which delivers access to the key information needed by libraries to justify and plan library services, monitor performance indicators and set service level targets. Business Objects WebIntelligence forms the key management information module within the Talis Library Management System. Business Objects WebIntelligence provides an easy to use web interface and ensures that information can be retrieved across all management levels supporting both strategic and day-to-day management decisions, supporting libraries in their bid to improve customer service, reduce internal costs and ensure they will play a major part in delivering electronic government services.

The Need for Management Information

Following a period of gradual decline, British libraries now find themselves at the centre of the government’s plans for lifelong learning and social inclusion. In the developing electronic world, libraries are expected to ensure that people without access to the Internet at home or work can access the developing commercial and government services which are beginning to include electronic voting and electronic filing of tax returns, as well as general access to key information on welfare, housing and benefits.

As a result, libraries have moved far beyond the core business of lending books. They are becoming information centres, providing material in a wide range of formats, including video, CDs and the Internet.However, while political agendas have increased the focus on libraries, issues such as funding and the overall decline in book issues have to be addressed. Robert Watson explains, “Libraries need to be accountable and they need to ensure that they can justify their costs, whilst pointing to areas of increasing revenue, such as the loan of CDs and videos. There is significant competition for the role of delivering public information and access to commercial and government services.

Libraries need to ensure they understand how to deliver services that meet the needs of their local population. As a result, there is a huge need for easy access to management information across the board – from strategic planning to departmental managers.”

Business Objects WebIntelligence

Talis selected Business Objects WebIntelligence because it was easy to use and delivered information across all levels of the library infrastructure. Watson explains, “We needed a solution that could be cascaded out across all levels of the organisation, and not demand too much centralised effort.”Talis also wanted to be able to deliver information across the Web. “A web based solution is ideal for our customers who may want to roll out access to up to 30 people, potentially spread across several sites,” says Watson.

“The e-business intelligence solution is also the most cost effective, which is a very important consideration for libraries. WebIntelligence from Business Objects enables us to deliver a tightly integrated and cost effective business intelligence solution to our customers.”

Delivering Critical Information with Business Objects WebIntelligence

Talis worked closely with Business Objects consultants on the development of the Talis Library Management Information System for the analysis of library books, borrowers, loans, reservations and fines and the product was launched in early 1999. Already over 50 percent of Talis customers have adopted the solution.Libraries are using the information across all levels of the organisation including branch managers, budget controllers of library service and strategic directors.

“One of the advantages of this solution is the way in which the information can be used, securely, at all levels,” he says.For example, libraries are evaluating the performance of their suppliers to drive on-going negotiations and, in the case of university libraries, supporting feedback to departments about their spend to date, ensuring up to the minute budget management. Similarly, circulation information is driving staffing levels at different times, highlighting most and least popular books, and monitoring inter-library loans.Additionally, Talis has provided a set of standard reports to help libraries in their annual submission of regulatory reports. “This is enabling them to do these reports automatically, tailored to local requirements.

The flexibility of Business Objects WebIntelligence will also ensure the reports can be rapidly adjusted in line with any regulatory changes,” says Watson.

Business Objects Customised Training

Training has played a very important role in gaining high levels of user acceptance for Talis Management Information. The company turned to Business Objects to create a training course specifically to meet the needs of its customers.Kevin O’Shea, training analyst at Talis explains, “Talis runs its own comprehensive portfolio of training courses but worked in association with Business Objects to create a specially tailored course, for the Talis application. Business Objects showed great commitment to Talis, working with us to achieve this, providing the resources to create the course.

“To date, Talis has trained over 40 customers in the use of Business Objects with the Talis Information Management system at the company’s Birmingham base. “The course and associated documentation have been specifically amended by Ann Whittle and Terry Willan, Product Managers at Talis to reflect our environment,” says O’Shea. “All the examples used are from the Talis database, ensuring the course is totally tailored to our customers, providing them with familiar surroundings.””The quality of the training we have received from Business Objects has been of a very high level,” he says, “Customer response to the training has been extremely positive, with future courses over-subscribed. Customers are now requesting a one-day course tailored to meet the needs of a diverse range of users, which Talis is planning to deliver, together with Business Objects, in the near future.

Future Plans

Talis expects to roll out Business Objects WebIntelligence to the majority of its customer base over the next year, and plans to add a further 10-15 libraries each year to its base in the UK and Ireland. Additionally, the company plans to take its core product set outside its traditional markets and address the global opportunity for library management systems. Watson concludes, “Libraries are in competition to deliver services to their communities. They need to be efficient, to be accountable and to be flexible in service delivery. Access to critical management information will prove key in enabling them to meet the challenge placed by their parent institutions and by the government’s drive towards better access to information for all citizens.”