Trend Shifting

Outsell’s Leigh Watson Healy is telling us about research they’ve done into the information seeking expectations of information professionals and desktop searchers. She says they’ve been doing research long enough, since 2001, so that they can identify some shifting trends. Leigh says the information industry is a $260 billion industry, excluding consumer and entertainment, and is “growing nicely.” Highest percentage of growth (25%) is in aggregators, distributors, and services.

Information is being democraticized. Nice, she just mentioned blogging and grinned over at Dick and me sitting at our blogging table.

“Good enough” is often good enough, but people do understand that when it’s important, then good enough isn’t good enough.

Top 3 unmet information needs — competitor information is at the top. Information professionals search differently from end-users. No surprise there, but there’s a self reliance factor throughout search. More people are turning to their corporate library (yeah!).

How much time do people spend gathering and applying information? The trend is towards more time being spent on both is increasing. This impacts productivity. Big shift in where people go when seeking information from open search engines to specialized sources. More emphasis on going to colleagues. She didn’t say social networking, but that’s part of what it is.

But people still think information is too hard to find. Even info pros.

Info pros look for quality, but end-users consider ease of access along with quality and relevance. More people want information delivered to their PC than to a mobile device. The latter is only 1%. Top issue with role is getting along with people.

End-users do believe that they can trust what they find on the Web, while info pros are much more skeptical. People are pretty much satisfied with search engines.

Information purchasing is down since 2001. Big shift in independent spending patterns, it’s been cut almost in half. Biggest shift in type of content being purchased is much much less being spent on news data. IT professionals are more likely to be the purchaser than in the past. More is being spent on education and training. There are some gaps between user satisfaction and purchasing criteria. Not as much correlation as we’d like between price and quality, ease of use, and update frequency. Information managers worry about price, contracts, and customer service.

Leigh believes that library as place is an obsolete model in the corporate world, but it’s thriving in the public library world. In academia, there’s a struggle to understand how a library fits in. Desktop delivery of information is increasingly important, as is peer to peer support.

Content spending per user is $347 per user, but $141 per potential user.

Power shift: The future of publishing is new. Workplaces are virtual. Technology empowerment and next-gen values are key drivers. Users want on-demand information and open business models. Who’s thriving? Those with ad model and those who meet niche needs.

Outsell sure loves charts and graphs, but they’re hard to see in this room, which has over 150 people listening to Leigh. I think I’m experienced data overload. And I wish I had a copy of her slides so I could spend time later to fully process all these thoughts and data points.

Marydee Ojala
Editor, ONLINE: The Leading Magazine for Information Professionals

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