Archive | November, 2009

Industry Outlook: Seeing What the Week Will Tell

Things have been improving of late in the information industry.  At least that’s the current impression of FreePint General Manager Robin Neidorf.   But she’s waiting to see what the Online Information conference and exhibition in London reveals this week.

We caught up with Robin today while she was taking a break from setting up the FreePint display in the exhibition hall.

See what she has to say about how continuing “intense budget pressure” is being offset with a growing understanding that an investment in information is necessary for companies to remain competitive.  Watch the video.

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If you are attending the event this week in London, you can contribute your own observations for inclusion in the FreePint Online Information 2009 Special Report.  To participate pick up a form from the FreePint stand (#122)  or submit your comments online.  For those not at the show, sign up to receive a free copy of the report.

TFPL’s Question Time

The Monday night before the Online Information Conference has long been, in my book, dedicated to the InfoPro party thrown by CIG, London’s  now defunct City Information Group. This year TFPL really filled a gap by hosting a TFPL Connect International meeting at the Crown Plaza Hotel near Blackfriars.

TFPL chose a “Question Time” format, which left non-U.K. attendees rather struggling initially to understand what they meant. It didn’t take long, however, to figure out that this was “user driven content” at an extreme level.

Hosted by TFPL’s John Davies, the panelists were Natalie Ceeney, The National Archives (UK); Morten Nichoaisen (ProQuest Dialog, US, originally from Denmark),  and Doris Springer (Baiin & Company, Germany).

The Question Time format is exactly that: The panel responded to questions rather than presenting pre-done slides.  The level of discourse, I think. was signifnctly heightened by the absence of  slides.

What follows is some of the high points:

Get the information out there and let people decide for themselves about its veracity

Why is the UK averse to sharing information?

Information should be treated as an asset.

When you hide information, people will find it anyway.

There’s no Freedom of Information Act in Germany.

Revealing personal data is sensitive, whether it’s Sweden’s tax records or archival data that’s over 30 years old.

Technology transforms policy.

What about trust? Younger generations are not so quick to trust website information.

Where lies the future for information professionals?

It’s been a tough year, training budgets are down, but Morten sees bright spots in 2010, while Natalie thinks that in the pubic sector, it’s not getting better.

What attributes should information professionals have to break out of the traditional mode? Morten suggested more activity in explaining how to gt cretical information to people in the organization, Natalie said we should get the best out of our money (finance department), people (HR), and information (us).  General agreement that more marketing is necessary, tied to the actual needs of the organization.

The evening ended with a passionate discussion about social media. None of the three panel members admitted to Twittering. Several members of the audience took them rather to task on that, pointing out the value of social media.

All in all, TFPL is to commended for adding a very important component to the run-up to Online Information. Lots of food for thought. Lots of intelligent comments on all sides of the issues. Lots of info pro networking  and collegiality.

Resources for Assessing Any Industry

infoadvisorcoverThis month’s issue of Information Advisor–published by Information Today–features an article on “The Best Sources for International Industry Statistics,“by editor Robert Berkman.

As a gift to our Live from London readers, Information Today, is pleased to provide a complimentary copy of the report, otherwise available only to subscribers.

The report, covers English-language sources, including online databases, market research reports, national statistics sites, international organizations, U.S. government agencies, and university portals.  A special section on “Locating Market Research Report Data on the Open Web for Free” is featured.

All-in-all, it’s a roundup of the “most fruitful, substantive,and accessible sites, sources, resources,and strategies for locating statistical global industry data.”  Download and enjoy!

Follow Bob Berkman at his Intelligent Agent blog, or on Twitter:  rberkman

Subscribe to Information Advisor.

Free Report:

Europe in the Online World: Challenge or Chance for Jobs?

EURUS, which provides employment services throughout the European Union, is sponsoring a special event tomorrow (Tuesday, December 1) on its stand (#634) at Online Information in London.

For those not in London, the one-hour event will be webcast live via the EURUS Portal, starting at 13:25 (GMT), 8:25 a.m., US EST.

The topic is:  “Europe in the Online World – A challenge or a chance for jobs and businesses?”

Hashing Online

There promises to be extensive coverage of the Online Information show on Twitter. The hashtag is #online09. There’s a Twapper Keeper for the show as well, set up by Mary Ellen Bates. I also noticed that Twapper Keeper is introducing GeoLocating, which is somewhat pointless for international conferences such as this one. The conference and exhibition is in London (time zone GMT), but Mary Ellen’s based in Colorado, 7 time zones  away.

And what have people been using Twitter for? Since there’s no information from actual presentations as yet, tweets have been largely self-promotional (as in I’m speaking at a certain time) or company-related (as in visit us on stand xxx). Tomorrow the volume of tweets should go way way up.

Who Will Dominate the Technology Space?

It’s the “new normal” . . . the paradigm has shifted again.

Who will dominate the technology landscape?  Google?  Microsoft?  or someone else?

Given that we’re still experiencing the biggest recession most of us have ever known, and given that we’re undergoing a major technology shift at the same time, what does the future hold for the information industry, which is coming together this week in London?

According to David Snowden, founder and chief scientific officer at Cognitive Edge, in times like these, the dominant players will now “drop off” and recover in new forms, while others will move into the space.

Going forward, will the larger landscape be defined by Microsoft or Google?  Or will someone new emerge from left field?  The answer may surprise you.

Watch the video clip from an interview, conducted recently at KMWorld ’09, to find out.

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Weathering the Weather

Weathering Turbulent Times was Barb’s post title, but at breakfast this morning,  several UK residents had more immediate weather concerns. It’s been raining heavily here and several information professionals who intended to come to London are instead at home, sandbagging their houses to prevent flooding. Here’s hoping that the weather doesn’t keep too many people away from Online Information!

This morning two workshops are occurring, one on turbo-charging web research (Mary Ellen Bates) and the other on Sharepoint (Tony Bryne). With luck, we’ll be videoing a brief interview and see how they’re going.

Weathering Turbulent Times

“These are the times that test men’s souls,” wrote British-born author and philosopher Thomas Paine back in the days of the American Revolution. His words ring true today as they did more than 200 years ago but in a different context.

Today, we can draw parallels from Paine’s writings to the tough economic times that we’ve faced during the past year. In the information industry, belts were tightened, budgets were cut, and tough decisions were (and are still being) made. But are the bad times over, and what will the next year hold?

Paine signed off many of his inspirational essays with the pseudonym “Common Sense.” So we’ll be including some “common sense” from the industry notables for each day of the blog; the commentary has been excerpted from the front-page article in the December issue of Information Today, which is also available at

Anthea Stratigos
Co-Founder and CEO
Outsell, Inc.
During the past year, industry leaders and teams learned where we were strong and where we were weak in people, processes, content solutions, leverage—everywhere. There is only good in that, despite how difficult or painful it is. We were forced to look through the eye of the needle and live our theme: No Guts, No Glory. Reward comes to those who focus, take risks, make changes, make a difference, and live their truth.

As we head into 2010, we continue to enter the age of experience, and the publishers and providers that pick the right markets and continue to offer a better experience at an equal or better value will be those who find the money and grow, thrive, and profit. It’s about execution on all levels.

These are the same traits for the companies that grew in 2009, and they do exist: offerings in mobile, social, and global workflow; qualified leads; a service-oriented and warm and friendly team; CEOs who answer their own phones; sales teams that are professional, knowledgeable, and easy to do business with; content delivered into new environments such as Facebook; and interactive learning. Those will be the differentiators.

As our industry matures from the effect of circa-2000 technologies, delivering value, shedding what no longer works, offering better service, and competing on scale and cost all matter. Technology is now evolving to offer better experiences, not just better analytics or better delivery, but interactive, 3D, portable, visual, auditory, and sensory experiences. It is now a market-share game, and it is about finding new budget pockets. At the end of the day, it’s survival of the fittest, and we will continue to see that play out in 2010.

Carl Grant
Ex Libris North America
“Fragile” is the only suitable word to describe the current situation, and “likely to recur” seems a disturbing but more probable description of the future we face.

The end result is, I believe, a sea change event for libraries and information professionals. It’s one that was probably needed for quite some time. It’s unfortunate that it had to be realized via such painful measures. I hope the following has been learned as a result:

The need for focused goals—Ask 10 librarians or information professionals what they think their “value-add” is to information, and you’ll get 10 distinct answers. This must change, since we can’t be all things to all people. We must build toward some common professional goals that are well-defined and universally understood.

The need for funding at the highest levels to support achieving focused goals—As long as information professionals are tied to local (or department) funding, local needs will always override a higher focus, and that’s part of what got us in the mess we’re in right now. Again, we need to have some inspirational, focused, broadly understood goals and speak with one voice in order to assure their achievement.

The need to rethink our profession—Maurice Line, former director general of The British Library, said it best when he said, “Unless we can see our future in a far broader context, we may not have a future. Our territory is being lost while we think we are defending it, because we are defending the form and not the substance, and the substance is changing.” He’s right.

Let’s map out how this new vision contributes value to the people we serve. Only then will we be able to truly recover from what has happened and survive what may recur while being stronger than in the past.

Live from London – State of the Industry Report

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What will Barb Brynko, Marydee Ojala, and I be talking about from the Online Information show in London next week?   Watch the trailer.