October 26, 2009
The Witches Brew that is Wolters Kluwer's IntelliConnect
Back in 1990, I was so burnt out in firm librarianship that I decided to escape from law librarianship for awhile. So I took a look at the publishing side of the library-publisher equation by taking a job as an indexer in CCH's tax division. Yup, I indexed CCH's Standard Federal Tax Reporter, US Master Tax Guide and all those federal tax legislation paperbacks the company produced. Didn't stay long because in the early 1990s, CCH was definitely not the place to be to see the state of the art in electronic legal publishing. Impressed with the editorial quality generated for tax and the content editors who created it? You bet. And the print production side of the business and the production editors who made it work? Ditto. But the "mother ship" as CCH reps like to call the home office, was way, way, way behind the curve in electronic publishing in 1992 (or was it 1993?) when I was there. I made a hasty exit and found what I was really seeking, namely an insider's look at electronic distribution of content, at the Chicago Tribune.
Enough with my anything but straight line career path. I never looked closely at CCH's modern electronic services until IntelliConnect came along so I can't compare it to the Company's Tax Research Network. But, recently I gave the tax resources on IntelliConnect a trial run because
CCH Wolters Kluwer was offering a substantial discount for the electronic versions of all the income tax and estate and gift tax loose-leaf services our library currently receives in print. Thanks but no thanks.
While I like the display interface, there is no way in hell that I can force IntelliConnect down my patrons' collective throat and there is no reason to subscribe to the electronic service in addition to retaining their tax loose-leaf services on the shelves, not during these information budget cutting times. To quote LLB's Vicki Szmczak, "Intelliconnect is not particularly usey." See Vicki's I got e-Books coming out of my ears! post ("Usey is my own word that I use to combine notions of user-friendly interfaces with effective searching/results.")
Great for Job Security But... IntelliConnect's learning curve is just too steep; I may be an old dog but I'm not yet too old a dog to learn a new trick or two. The way too Google-ish inspired structure is accompanied by a decent set of SE filtering tools to mitigate some of the design flaws but, OMG, good luck getting a handle on how to use them and then, more importantly, on training others in their use so you aren't the only person on-site sufficiently skilled to perform effective IntelliConnect searches. In the alternative, if you are worried about your job security, replace all CCH loose-leaf services with IntelliConnect now!
The basic template for all CCH loose-leaf services has always been the Standard Federal Tax Reporter. When the Company can organize content around a statutory and regulatory structure like the IRC, for example, federal securities laws and regs, CCH loose-leaf services work pretty well. They are "usey." When case law drives a practice area, e.g. federal labor law, CCH loose-leaf services just don't make the grade. I gave IntelliConnect's labor and employment services a test drive because the offered pricing was very attractive. Again, thanks but no thanks.
My specialty is labor law and like almost everyone else on the planet who practices in the area, BNA is the go-to resource in print and/or online. Always has, probably always will be. Only amateurs generalists cite to CCH labor and employment services and if you ever see anyone pull a West loose-leaf title from the stacks (assuming you still have them on the shelves), you need to slap the volume out of their hands. Once I almost spit out coffee I was in the midst of drinking to stay awake while listening to an Eaganite pitch that West's labor resources were better than BNA! The Coordinators -- "expert analysis, valuable commentary, tips; oh yes, we got tips." Do those folks never stop drinking the corporate Kool-aid? But I digress.
When my BNA contract came up for renewal this month, I begged my account executive to persuade the contracting and pricing folks not to force me to choose IntelliConnect's Labor and Employment Library over BNA's self-hosted online service. Luckily he succeeded. Thanks Pete -- and BTW, thanks for picking up the bar tab for all of us before and after the opening banquet at ORALL in Cleveland. At this stage in my so-called career, the only way to get through days two and three of a law librarian conference is by being hung over.
Could BNA match CCH's pricing? Of course not, but dollar for dollar BNA's editorial quality in labor and employment law far surpasses CCH. In addition to editorial content, BNA's organization of all online content, SE, and website-like interface for its self-hosted services are so user friendly that patrons "get it" with a minimal amount of librarian assistance. In other words, BNA Online will not protect law librarian job security but we aren't supposed to be picking our resources based on that concern.
Google, Google, Toil and Trouble. Are Vicki and I the only law librarians who think IntelliConnect isn't ready for prime time? No way José. About two weeks ago Yale Law Library's Anne Myers solicited reaction to the IntelliConnect platform on law-lib. She received some very candid responses. See law-lib for her Oct. 21 "Compiled Comments about CCH IntelliConnect" message. Sounds to me like IntelliConnect may be a great reason to switch to Checkpoint for tax and BNA Online for everything else. Oops.
So what does Wolters Kluwer have to do to gain wider acceptance of IntelliConnect absent promoting it as a vehicle for law librarian job security? The Company must overcome the madness that is the dumping of e-resources into a boiling cauldron stirred by a gee-it's-like Google mentality; the mother ship's pilots must have been bewitched -- "Google, Google, toil and trouble.."
A Message from the Mother Ship. In response to Myers' Compiled Comments about CCH IntelliConnect law-lib message, Linda Lev-Dunton, Director, Segment Management, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business posted the following to the listserv:
Dear Law-Lib readers and CCH customers,
On behalf of Wolters Kluwer I am responding to the comments posted recently on law-lib regarding CCH’s new IntelliConnect system.
We announced IntelliConnect during 2009 and have successfully introduced and transitioned many customers to this innovative new research platform. That being said, as noted here, some of our customers have not had as positive an experience with IntelliConnect as we ideally would have liked. We have worked diligently with these customers in an effort to recognize and resolve these issues. Various steps have and are being taken to address their and your needs including several product enhancements we plan to implement by the end of this year. This link will take you to a short PowerPoint presentation with screen shots that details these enhancements.
We have also found that users who are trained on the system benefit from such training. Wolters Kluwer Law & Business has Legal Training Consultants conducting 10-12 IntelliConnect training webinars each week. Customers can choose either the 30 Minute Overview session or the 1 hour Hands-on Introductory session. Everyone is encouraged to sign up for these sessions at http://business.cch.com/legalprotraining. Many customers have found our training support site http://business.cch.com/training extremely helpful. There you will find a wide range of information and material to support your transition, including flash demos that provide IntelliConnect functionality training on Document Path, History, My Favorites, Practice Areas and Preferences.
Although I cannot address each of these comments in this posting, we know fully that each comment deserves attention and I encourage you to contact your account representative or me, off list, regarding your specific situation. We will get answers for you.
We are pleased that many customers like IntelliConnect, but we also are listening closely to those of you who would like to see changes. With your insight and feedback, IntelliConnect will be continually enhanced as we combine technology advancements and content that meets the needs of our users. Your feedback and insight is invaluable to the future development of IntelliConnect. We continue to work very hard to provide the exceptional, reliable content professionals have depended on for years.
Again, I am glad to respond to questions off list. My contact information is below.
Director, Segment Management,
Wolters Kluwer Law & Business
2700 Lake Cook Road
Riverwoods, IL 60015
[phone number redacted]
Hoping to Move Beyond 1913 Someday. Well, at least Wolters Kluwer's statement is better than the usual drivel posted from the land without milk or honey on law-lib by the Eaganites. You remember the Eaganites from the Old Testament, right? Deuteronomy 25:17-18, Exodus 17:14 and 1 Sam. 15:3. "Remember what the Eaganites did along the way when you came out of Egypt ... completely blot out the memory of ... and totally distroy the Eaganites" (or something like that). But I digress again.
I'm sticking with BNA Online, Checkpoint for tax online for now and my CCH income tax and estate and gift tax loose-leaf services despite getting the "evil eye" from my colleagues who have to file the updates. As for IntelliConnect, well, perhaps next year if the promised product enchancements do the trick my law library will be able to stop filing weekly supplements into Standard Federal Tax Reporter. The product that revolutionized legal publishing at the turn of the last century is still better than the one intended to bring CCH into the 21st century. [JH]
I find IntelliConnect to be counterintuitive and with way too many hidden sources/libraries. Very unfriendly. I'm sorry I renewed my subscription.
Posted by: Darlene Reiter | Apr 20, 2010 2:04:32 PM