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Predictions Come True

AIIP President Marcy Phelps, right, predicted a good year ahead for its members in a video blog interview with ONLINE Editor Marydee Ojala.

AIIP President Marcy Phelps, right, predicted a good year ahead for association members in a video blog interview with ONLINE Editor Marydee Ojala.

Marcy Phelps, president of AIIP (Association of Independent Information Professionals), shared a few predictions with us in her video interview with Marydee Ojala the day before the official start of Online Information 2009. (You can view the interview in its entirety on this ITI blog.)

By Day 3 of the conference, Phelps reported that traffic was “brisk” in and out of the AIIP stand on the exhibition floor. “People have been coming in and taking AIIP application forms to join the organization, but there were even more people coming in and taking forms to hire AIIP members,” she says, adding that her supply of forms was actually running low. “This is a good time to be an AIIP member,” she says. “Independent info pros are in demand.”

The AIIP membership consists of more than 500 business owners from more than 20 countries around the world.

Life at the FT

FT's Caspar de Bono

FT's Caspar de Bono

When the Financial Times rolled out its innovative licensing model 20 months ago, the news about the business model caused quite a stir in the industry. “People were concerned about the news initially, but that time has passed,” says Caspar de Bono, managing director of the FTB (Financial Times Business). “We explained our objectives, assembled a customer advisory board in London and New York, and increased our customer base in the process.”

For de Bono, the FT made sound business decisions along the way. Its strategy of conviction, focus on the market, and sharing the purpose of refinements with readers helped pave the way for a smooth transition going forward. “We have a transparency about price, and we are engaged with our audience. And we’ve been reaping the benefits of having a direct relationship with our readers.”

As for 2010, de Bono’s game plan is to continue to develop a clear path, engage with customers, and introduce more product innovations. “News is no longer a luxury,” says de Bono. “We need to know what’s happening around the world.”

For more on life at FT, check out de Bono’s video commentary on this blog.

A Pavilion Preview

Bright, bold signage pointed the way to three new pavilions on the exhibition floor.

Bright, bold signage pointed the way to three new pavilions on the exhibition floor.

Attendees at this year’s exhibition undoubtedly noticed the overhead signage in the Olympia Grand Hall for the European Libraries and French pavilions.

According to event organizers, these new features focus “on innovation and emerging technologies across Mainland Europe” where high-profile companies (Bureau van Dijk Information Management, Cybion, Carin Info, and others in the French Pavilion, and EBSCO and SLA as sponsors of the European Libraries Theatre) have stands in a collective area and offer individual information sessions in theaters at the rear or in the gallery sections of the exhibition hall.

In addition, the XML Pavilion grouped 16 company stands into a cluster of XML suppliers, many of whom offered information sessions in the XML Theatre. But more on that in another post.

A Search Sighting

Industry notables Harry Collier and Anne Girard

Industry notables Harry Collier and Anne Girard

Harry Collier may have sold his longtime Boston-based Search Engine Meeting to Information Today, Inc. last fall, but he and colleague Anne Girard were checking out what was new on the exhibition floor at Online Information 2009 on Day 1 and Day 2.

It would seem Collier is far from “retiring” any time in the near future. In fact, rumor has it that he is working on another venture, the news of which will be released quite soon. Stay tuned for further developments.

Cheers to the New Year

Will Hann, managing direcotr of FreePint, and Yvonne Dews, financial manager, toast the new year.

Will Hann, managing director of FreePint, and Yvonne Dews, financial manager, toast the new year.

At the FreePint party on Tuesday night, guests enjoyed piping hot pizza and a bottomless glass of wine to celebrate a “good year” for the publishing company, despite a rough economy. Friends and business colleagues spent an evening having fun and taking advantage of a few moments of free time to catch up on all the latest industry news.

Managing director Will Hann is gearing up for 2010 to continue to “build on the growth we’ve experienced in 2009.”

Knovel News

Although Knovel didn’t have a booth on the exhibition floor this year, Diana Bittern, director of product management, still had plenty of meetings lined up about the company’s online technical resources for engineers.

For the past two years, Knovel has been refocusing on what customers truly want, says Bittern. “We found that librarians screamed the loudest” about some disruptive issues with the Knovel site in the recent past, so Bittern and her team went back to the drawing board after conducting observation sessions with users. The results, she says, helped fine-tune the site’s contextual design and became the drivers for further innovation.

Knovel Labs, one of the spinoffs, gives users a chance to try out product enhancements in beta before their release. “Knovel Labs has been a great success,” she says. “Librarians like to see and touch the products in the development phase, and we welcome their feedback.”

Knovel’s interactive search capabilities within the site’s graphs and tables are a key differentiator between them and the competitors, and it was important to make the entire search experience easier for the users.

“This year has been the year for personalization with our launch of the new My Knovel that lets engineers and engineering students collect and save their knowledge over time,” says Bittern. It gives users the chance to save searches, links, and graphs involved in their work for future reference, along with frequently used titles, content, and queries that can be organized into specific folders.

Next year, she says, Knovel is gearing up for a year of collaboration and community so users can share and exchange information. In the meantime, the Knovel team is rebuilding its infrastructure with a revamped interface and an improved user registration system with a single sign-on option for societies and academic institutions.

“We went back to the drawing board to help engineers get their answers faster,” says Bittern. “Our long-term goal is still to make engineers more productive.”

Have Video, Will Travel

Filmmaker Joe Loncraine confers with Dick Kaser, ITI's VP of content, on the next video shoot at London Online.

Filmmaker Joe Loncraine confers with Dick Kaser, ITI's VP of content, on the next video shoot at London Online.

For the past three days, Dick Kaser, ITI’s VP of content, has been busy tracking down industry players at London Online to discuss their take on the state of the information industry.

Joe Loncraine, a locally based TV producer and director whose long list of credits include making documentaries for the BBC, recently returned from filming in Mozambique just in time to help catch all the action on the exhibition floor at London Online for the ITI blog.

You’ll find the video portion of the interviews on the blog (be sure to check out the insights from the industry experts), and the print version will be available in the upcoming January 2010 issue of Information Today.

SpringerMaterials: The Landolt-Börnstein Database

The SpringerMaterials innovation team (Dr. Thomas Mager, left)

The SpringerMaterials innovation team (Dr. Thomas Mager, left)

While the buzz about Informa’s bid to buy Springer Science + Business Media was making headline news, Springer’s crew at Stand 410 was busy with the debut of its latest product, SpringerMaterials.

Scientists, researchers, and engineers can now access the 400-volume Landolt-Börnstein series with a single keystroke. Billed as “the world’s largest resource for physical and chemical data,” SpringerMaterials—The Landolt-Börnstein Database brings the print collection’s rich content into one easy-to-access online platform (91,000 online documents, more than 1 million literature citations, 165,000 substances, and 3,000 properties).

The core of the SpringerMaterials database is two-fold, according to Thomas Mager, vice president of reference and database publishing at Springer. “First, we wanted to build a user interface with a search engine, and second, we wanted to make the content findable,” he says. The content is actually annotated, he says, with a content layer on the screen that has an added “ghost or shadow world” overtop that includes a thesaurus, metadata, and deep indexing to offer quick, easy search capabilities. “The feedback from our customers who were involved in the trial has been overwhelming in a positive sense,” says Mager.

Users can search in several ways: via a Google-like search box, an advanced search tab that creates a Boolean search term automatically as the user sets up the parameters, or a color-coded periodic table. User-friendly speed typing also suggests terms and available content during a search; results also include text surrounding the search string to provide context, and faceted results display offerings in key subject areas (molecules and radicals, crystallography, etc.). There’s also a REACH tab to provide instant info for EU regulatory documentation.

And as for the buzz about negotiations between Informa and Springer? Yep, they’re true. Eric Merkel-Sobotta, executive vice president for corporate communications, confirmed that negotiations were ongoing, “but not exclusive … we’re currently in talks with several parties.” Stay tuned for more developments.

Weathering Turbulent Times—Part 3

London Online begins with Day 2 of keynotes, conference sessions, and news about product developments on the exhibition floor. Information Today, Inc.’s roving video crew will continue to conduct on-the-spot interviews, so look for highlights of these interviews on this blog as we focus on state of the industry.

As in yesterday’s blog, two information industry experts shared their insights about the past year and what lies ahead, and today, we continue our report on the state of the industry from a financial perspective along with an industry analysis.

The commentary from our panel of experts has been excerpted from the front-page article in the December issue of Information Today, which is also available at

Scott Peters
Managing Director
The Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc.
In the third quarter of 2009, there were 466 M&A transactions worth $16.4 billion across the media, information, marketing services, and technology sectors, as tracked by The Jordan, Edmiston Group, Inc. (JEGI), the U.S.-based media investment bank. Two markets actually saw growth in M&A activity in 2009 over 2008—the mobile and education sectors.

However, overall transaction volume fell 30%, while deal value declined 42% through 3Q versus the same period of 2008. While the number of announced deals is on par with 2005–2006 levels, the total deal value is on pace with 2002–2003 levels.

The key catalyst that drove the downturn in the M&A market was the virtual shutdown of the credit market starting in the summer of 2008, as U.S. total debt reached an all-time high of 368% of GDP at the end of 2008, according to Ned Davis Research, Inc. By comparison, the debt-to-GDP level stood at 265% before the Great Depression and had trended in the 160% to 180% range for most of the 20th century. In short, the country was overleveraged, and as a result, banks were hesitant to lend. …

Reheating Sectors Drive M&A
The most active M&A markets covered by JEGI have been Education Information, Technology & Training; Marketing & Interactive Services; Mobile Media & Technology; and Online Media & Technology. Together, these four sectors accounted for 337 deals or 72% of the transactions announced and 87% of deal value ($14.2 billion) in the 3Q.

Given strong growth forecasts for online advertising in the years ahead, interactive and mobile categories continue to see active M&A. According to Rob Norman, CEO of GroupM, global internet advertising will climb 11% to $64.7 billion in 2010, accounting for 15% of all global measured ad spending, up from a 13% share in 2009. Meanwhile, global mobile advertising is expected to climb 19% to $3.3 billion in 2010.

A recent Yankee Group Research, Inc. report estimates that nearly 7 billion U.S. smartphone application downloads will generate $4.2 billion in revenue by 2013, up from $343 million in 2009. With the number of U.S. smartphone users set to quadruple to 160 million by 2013, the Yankee Group describes the anticipated market growth as a gold rush. …

M&A Outlook
JEGI expects the following dynamics to influence an M&A market recovery: M&A activity will build on marketplace confidence; M&A valuations will continue to grow stronger; credit markets have begun to rebound; strategic companies that must reinvent/retool models will acquire; and private equity firms will be preoccupied with overleveraged portfolios.

Overall, the M&A market has begun to turn, and JEGI anticipates healthier deal activity for the balance the year, especially in the fast-growing media and information sectors, with strategic acquirers leading the way.

John Blossom
President, Senior Analyst
Shore Communications, Inc.
After a whirlwind of economic adjustments in 2009, enterprise publishers, content technology companies, and their clients are hoping that the belt-tightening this year will set the stage for renewed economic health in 2010.

On the media side, the rapid acceleration of online content consumption and the rapid shift of advertising budgets to online venues spells good news for online revenues, but it also means that sinking traditional print revenues will be less likely to carry online publishing efforts that are not mature enough to manage their futures on their own. Micropayments, subscriptions, and other premium access models will try to fill the gap, but the success of premium mobile content-serving applications suggests that consumer spending on content may not all go to traditional publishers. At the same time, steps by business and scholarly publishers to leverage social media as a publishing platform will become far more serious in 2010. …

In the enterprise markets, parallel trends are challenging publishers that are seeing librarians with budgets already cut to the quick having to adjust to reshaped enterprise priorities. The other shoe to drop for enterprises will be a continuing reprioritization of collection acquisitions and more emphasis on consortium purchases and project-oriented content acquisition and billing.

Enterprises are also focused more on integrating content from multiple disciplines into services that can drive their revenues from product and service innovations more effectively. Much of the excitement in enterprise publishing will be with content integration and visualization services that aggregate content from multiple sources into decision-making platforms, making advanced search, categorization, and collaboration tools. It’s no longer about just searching in the enterprise: Search is now an editorial and data harvesting tool that feeds sophisticated display and analytics applications. The rapid rise of enterprise-ready cloud computing services underscores the importance of publishers being able to curate a wider array of content to support decision making. …

While Apple has gained attention in 2009 from the success of its iPhone, expect 2010 to be a year in which Google becomes more of a clear successor to Microsoft as a default global publishing platform in the enterprise and media markets. With its web-centric approach and long-term view of who needs to be served by content technologies, Google is well-positioned to challenge the world as a new kind of cloud-oriented content juggernaut in 2010. … If you thought the “Content Nation” activated by social media demonstrated impressive power in 2009, wait for a turbulent 2010 that will begin to expose just how much the center of power in publishing has shifted into the hands of audiences everywhere.

Gale Launches Online Archive of the Financial Times

At day’s end on Tuesday, the rapid fire of champagne corks popping signaled the start of the official celebration of the publishing partnership between Gale, part of Cengage Learning, and the Financial Times.

Gale Cengage Learning rolled out its exclusive Financial Times Historical Archive 1888–2006, a coup for researchers and historians who now have easily searchable access of 119 years of global business and financial news in 790,000 newspaper pages. “Users can see the actual pages with all the articles, advertisements, and even the tombstones,” says Mark Holland, publisher director at Gale Cengage Learning. “Best yet, the essential businessman’s paper is completely searchable,” right down to the ads and market listings.

Updates to the collection will be added every year, says Alison Parker, content syndication director of the Financial Times. Parker, who says the news is targeted to “the C-suite,” added that the Financial Times is the only non-U.S. newspaper delivered to the White House every morning. The webpages of the Financial Times Historical Archive 1888–2006 are the signature salmon-pink hue, of course, equipped with a scrolling timeline along the bottom of the page that provides a quick search of highlights for each year. With Gale Cengage Learning’s reach into libraries in every country around the world, says Rossella Proscia, marketing director of Cengage Learning EMEA, the archives are poised to help researchers worldwide.

As for that signature salmon-pink paper? Parker says that one day in 1993, the FT was printed on white paper and circulation figures dropped nearly 50%. So the tradition reigns.