Joseph Esposito, CEO of GiantChair proposed creation of a new consortium in which academic institutions would digitize and share important collections with other members. The economics would be built on the “circle of gifts” model. The consortium would start with 5 founders, which is a good number for getting things done and making them work. It would be governed by a management board that would enforce strict rules and ensure that all members were active and contributing.
The benefits of such a consortium are that:
- The free rider problem, which gets in the way of most meaningful engagementis eliminated.
- If this scales to 2000 collections, and you have responsibility for 1 of them, the ROI is huge.
- Because of scability, it’s very unlikely to be defunded.
- Intellectual property problems consume lots of time (>50% in some cases).
- Generally, we don’t have product managers in the nonprofit world.
- How will we pay for all of this?
This is not a market-driven enterprise; it’s a consortium model, but even in a nonprofit world, you still have to get things to the attention of other people, so marketing has to be done. Get the strategy done first before addressing the financing. Don’t forget to include the ongoing costs.
Start in a limited way, with a narrow focus and as few features as possible. Key reason to do this is that it is the most highly scalable model to get a high ROI. A strong management team is critical for success.
Esposito closed with an invitation to send him proposed names for this new consortium.
Columnist, Information Today and Conference Circuit Blog Editor