Intellact evolved out of the corporate librarians' need to get competitive information to the field as fast as possible. The group ran a paper-based news clipping service for competitive research but could support only a few hundred BT users. Searching for a way to get the word out to more people, the Information Resource Centre (IRC) staff switched to a weekly e-mail newsletter in 1991. While it reached a broader audience, the e-mail service lacked interactivity. When the research moved online, the librarians - now intellact staff - finally realised their ambition of giving knowledge workers immediate and unfettered access to an entire library.
Today, the system logs 7000 user sessions per day, with an average duration of seven to eight minutes - although some market analysts may literally live and breathe the service from punch-in to quitting time. Intellact hasn't completely abandoned its roots either: 4000 subscribers still get a weekly newsletter, and many intellact users also receive a daily e-mail briefing that summarises the top 10 news stories in their defined areas of interest.
The core intellact news feed comes from Factiva's Reuters Business Briefing Select. Although it's not the only wire service available, BT prefers the vast library offered by Factiva. BT gets more than 250 sources from the Factiva news feed out of a possible 7000 publications offered. (Factiva's content is sourced from a large number of newspapers, magazines and news wires, which include Dow Jones and Reuters.) "We can cover requirements from Australia to North America and get anything from very specific UK-focused telecom research to something as broad as the global pharmaceutical industry," says Woolf. "It's not perfect, it hasn't got every single source you'd want, but in terms of its scope and flexibility, it's very effective."
BT also licenses feeds from analyst companies such as Forrester and Gartner and incorporates proprietary research.
In conjunction with research arm BT Labs, the intellact staff designed and built the portal interface, integrated the outside sources with the primary news feed and incorporated a Verity search engine to drive both automatic sorting and manual queries.
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