Catherine Dhanjal FreePint Subscription Case Study: Cargill
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By Catherine Dhanjal


At global company Cargill, the information centre's team of 20 provides a range of services from procuring information sources to bespoke research and preparing for the impact of developments such as mobile devices and changes in information-seeking behaviour. We interviewed Anne Rogers, director of Research and KM, to find out how their FreePint Subscription helps them to deliver a superb service to the Cargill businesses and how they market the information service internally.


Cargill is an international producer and marketer of food, agricultural, financial and industrial products and services. Founded in 1865, the privately-held company employs 142,000 people in 65 countries.

At Cargill’s InfoCenter a staff of about 20 provide a spectrum of information research and management capabilities within the company. The team offers three levels of research: “we do it for you”; aiding self-serve by specifying sources, negotiating rates and purchasing tools such as SciFinder; and finally knowledge management by helping to connect Cargill staff and expertise to their colleagues within the company. Cargill’s director of Research & Knowledge Services, Anne Rogers, freely admits “the KM side can be a challenge”; however, with employees distributed widely across the organisation and the globe, it’s an essential task.

Typical activities include finding and analysing high quality business information to produce company and industry profiles; in-depth scientific information searches; and brokering the acquisition of external market data, negotiating joint purchase across multiple businesses to manage the costs. The information specialists are based mainly in Minneapolis, with a small group in Brussels and an appointment to be made in Shanghai to support business grown in the Asia-Pacific region.

Why Cargill Chooses FreePint

The company’s FreePint Subscription plays an important part in helping the information team to provide a top notch service. Anne regularly reads the FreePint newsletter and searches the FreePint site for items of interest which she then shares with colleagues. She says, “Articles on SharePoint are always of interest to our IT department, with whom we are actively working to define what role the InfoCenter might play in governance and knowledge management in the SharePoint environment. Our FreePint Subscription is very useful for ideas, insights and experiences.” The source updates are also well-used and well-shared, Anne explains, “The source evaluations are very useful – it’s such a dynamic space that they really help us to keep on top of changes.”

Another example of using the FreePint materials was a recent search for a new source of stock images when the Copyright Clearance Center announced they would be discontinuing their ReadyImages® product. FreePint resources were able to provide information on alternatives and key considerations.

Helping the Information Centre Stay Essential

The InfoCenter at Cargill has updated its strategy to ensure it remains an essential part of the business and supports the company’s direction moving forwards. Ensuring that the librarians are aware of and can respond to issues such as shifts in information-seeking behaviour and tipping points in use of mobile devices are an integral part of this. Anne adds, “I scan FreePint regularly for articles about information strategy to share with my manager and other members of the InfoCenter Leadership team. It is a great way to find out more about the experiences and views of other info pros, it’s a very useful way of seeing whether their views support or validate or challenge our planned strategies. The outside perspectives written by experienced professional practitioners also help us to see how others are running and evolving their services.”     

Comments that “The InfoCenter is the best kept secret in Cargill” have led to a strategic focus on raising awareness of information capabilities and services, with a newly defined InfoCenter role for marketing and outreach. Many of the FreePint articles are relevant to communications efforts and Anne regularly passes these on.

Tips for Marketing Your Information Centre

Anne’s top tips for making sure your information centre’s not “the best kept secret in the company”:

  • Never give up – just because you’ve communicated something once don’t assume it’s been read or noted
  • Use your intranet effectively – the InfoCenter provides the news subscriptions which feed a “Daily News Brief” featured on the main landing page
  • Case studies help the businesses to understand how they might work with the information team – Cargill puts together regular stories about how the information professionals have helped a unit to achieve success
  • Speak the language of your business and explain the benefits of information research in clear language
  • Log your queries to measure the success of your marketing – Cargill’s InfoCenter sees a spike in hits on the market research catalogue and in requests after they publish news and case studies on the intranet.

Find out more about a FreePint Subscription and how it can help your organisation to keep on top of information strategy, stay updated on the impact of mobile devices, gain specific information on topics from SharePoint to industry sources, and get tips to better market your services. Then order your subscription or request further information by completing our form, "How can FreePint help?"

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