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But is it useful? What users can tell us about the future of information on demand

Klobas, J.ORCID: 0000-0003-2146-7059 (1995) But is it useful? What users can tell us about the future of information on demand. In: 7th Australasian Information Online and On Disc Conference and Exhibition 95, 31 Jan - 2 Feb 1995, Sydney Convention & Exhibition Centre, N.S.W


Many information products and information systems depend for success on both initial sales or adoption, and continuing use. Commercial information-on-demand products, such as online information services, video-on-demand services, and many other services offered on the information highways rely on the revenue generated by ongoing use. Organisational information servers, such as Enterprise Wide Information Systems, Executive Information Systems, and Campus-Wide Information Systems, although generally free to users, also rely on ongoing use to be successful.

Online service providers, and potential providers of services on the information highways, have emphasised ease of use in marketing their electronic information resources (EIRs). More recently, online service providers have also concentrated on the quality of the information provided. While the primary market for EIRs remained information intermediaries, such as librarians, computing, and information managers, ease of use and information quality were accepted as key factors stimulating product adoption. Information-on-demand services, however, are increasingly likely to be marketed to, and used by, people who use the information or output themselves, rather than those who act as intermediaries.

What factors encourage people, other than information intermediaries, to use, and to continue to use, information-on-demand services? The factors that stimulate initial use or adoption may differ from those that influence people to continue to use information-on-demand services.

This paper draws on the findings of research into Internet use by university administrative and academic staff to suggest possible influences on use of information-on-demand services. It suggests two overlapping sets of influences: factors that influence initial adoption, and factors that influence ongoing use:

• A potential user's beliefs about likely ease of use and cost of use will influence their initial adoption of an information product or service, in the absence of other factors that initiate use. Convenient access to the product or service also has some influence on ongoing use.

• The single most important influence on use is the extent to which the potential user believes using the product or service will be `useful'. To be useful, the information resource may meet a practical, personal, or social need. It may improve the user's work, make homework easier, make it easier or quicker to get food supplies, help meet social or peer expectations, give a sense of enjoyment or achievement, or help achieve any other outcome the user believes is useful. Providers should not expect potential users to use their EIRs for the same reasons they do.

If potential users believe that an information product or service is useful, they are likely to continue to use it. If not, despite initial adoption, they are not likely to continue use, regardless of ease of use or information quality. Marketing, education, and implementation could be more effective if directed at creating a user perception that the electronic information resource is useful.

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