At RedLink, we speak to librarians and publishers every day about how they use data to make decisions and strategic choices. A common thread is that using data is difficult and time-consuming work, so it’s not something that’s normally part of their workflow.

Getting data can require filing a request with IT or an analytics person, areas that are commonly over-committed. This leads to a lot of waiting. Worse, the red tape many face makes people reluctant to ask for data, since they know their coworkers are inundated with requests and the process is a burden. They want to spare themselves and their colleagues the stress of one more task.

For publishers who work with sales agents, data access challenges can lead to underperformance that frustrates both the publisher and the sales agent. Empirical evidence of usage, denials, and increased engagement can help generate a new sale or lock in a renewal. Sales agents often work in different time zones, so contacting the home office with requests for data has an additional barrier. Without customer and usage data at their fingertips, opportunities can slip through the cracks.

For librarians, the amount of time and effort spent populating data sets, the uncertainty and complexity of commercial analytics tools from content vendors, and slow performance of interfaces all drag down productivity and sap energy. It’s the burden of running “Walter’s spreadsheet.” Because of this, there isn’t time left to work proactively with faculty, students, or administrators, all of which are opportunities to remain squarely on the institution’s radar and advance the cause of knowledge-sharing.

These and other opportunity costs can be significant, but they are mostly hidden. Opportunity costs around missing information can also seem so familiar that they don’t register. They affect the bottom line in some way — spending too much, earning too little — but secretly.

We’ve seen publishers and librarians both benefit from having easy access to core decision-making data, such as usage trends, denial spikes, and portfolio/collection overviews. Publishers who are able to give their sales staff and agents 24/7 access to relevant usage and customer data see productivity improve, and the sales teams perform better. Librarians who have time liberated from re-keying data and correcting spreadsheets can turn their attention to more critical job functions around helping their constituents as knowledge advisors.

RedLink is devoted to making access to decision data seamless and routine. We can help you drive out the hidden opportunity costs of old-fashioned data practices.