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State of the Industry — The Whole Nine Yards

In my editorial in Information Today this month, I opine about the linear nature of blogs and how things that actually go together tend to get broken up among pages, becoming difficult to find.

Long story short, here’s a final wrap-up of the video interviews we conducted in London last month for our State of the Industry report.  I’ve included links so you can pick and choose or hop from one video to the next.

Helping Libraries Become Knowledge Centers

Matthew Drury, Director of International Sales, Serials Solutions

Ex Libris:  Towards Openness and Convergence

Marc Daubach, Corporate V.P., General Manager, Europe, Ex Libris Group,

OCLC:  Make Libraries More Productive

Jay Jordan, President of OCLC

Advice from Nature Publishing Group:  Add “Real” Value

Grace Baynes

SIIA:  It All Depends on What Market Sector You’re In

Ed Keating, V.P., Content Division, SIIA

Springer:  “Cautiously Optimistic”

Springer V.P., Eric Merkel-Sobotta

Getting Back to Basics at Financial Times

Caspar de Bono, managing director, FT Business

Looking Forward to a Challenging 2010

Anthea Stratigos, co-founder and CEO, Outsell

Keys to Success:  Collaboration, Partnership, Integration

Rossella Proscia, Marketing Director, Gale Cengage

Industry Bright Spots:  Health and Medical Information

Karen Abramson, President and CEO, Medical Research, Wolters Kluwer

Andrew Richardson, Managing Director, Europe and V.P. of Business Development for Wolters Kluwer Health

Bad Times Creating Good Times for Info Pros

Mary Ellen Bates, independent information professional

In Companies “Smart” Info Pros Get Imbedded

Anne Caputo (DowJones), President-Elect, SLA

Business Is Booming for Independent Info Pros

Marcy Phelps, president, Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP)

Industry Outlook:  Seeing What the Week Will Tell

FreePint General Manager Robin Neidorf

Who Will Dominate the Technology Space?

David Snowden, founder and chief scientific officer at Cognitive Edge

P.S. — Stephen Abram Is Moving to Gale Cengage

Much could be made, I suppose, of the news today that Stephen Abram, who has been the public face of SirsiDynix for many years and chief innovation officer inside the company, is leaving SirsiDynix at the end of the year.

But before you start reading between the lines, both Stephen and company representatives assure me that he wasn’t fired , didn’t leave under any duress, and his departure should not be viewed as a bad sign about the industry or a bad omen about the company.

Rather, according to Stephen, it was sheer magnetism.  He simply found the opportunity to work with one of the world’s largest content aggregators and information service providers irresistible.  Starting in January, he will lead strategy development at Gale Cengage.

When I met with Stephen earlier this month in London, he had–as always–some interesting and passionate things to say about libraries in the current environment.  Though it could not have been planned, his remarks seem an appropriate way to end our state-of-the-industry coverage.

Stephen Abram on market conditions: Nostalgic views of what libraries are, need to “go away.”  In order for libraries to remain, they must change.  It is a transformational era.  There are fundamental shifts taking place.  It’s no longer about search and retrieval, but experience.  Libraries must examine what they do for today’s information users and adjust to the now.  Library skills are valuable and should be applied in new ways.

State of the Information Industry — In Summation

According to those we spoke with at the Online Information show in London earlier this month, the year ahead  promises to be another challenging one for both libraries and information vendors.

The word, “challenging,” of course is a relative term often euphemistically connoting the worst of difficulties, but most people we saw in London had a sigh of relief in their voices.

You can hear the inflection for yourself, as well as see the look on people’s faces, by watching the video interviews further down in this blog.  There are a dozen, or so, in all.

How has the industry weathered the difficult year just passing, and how is it preparing for 2010?

  • Independent information professionals reported that they have been the beneficiaries of an upswell in out-sourced business in 2009, the ironic result of reduced internal resources within the commercial sector.  On the upside, the info pros observe that companies are appreciating more and more how much they need information, the value of information services, and the important role that information professionals play. So, the desperate year just ending may yet reveal a silver lining for both independent information professionals and those looking for newly opening positions in the commercial sector.
  • Vendors, for the most part, were “cautiously optimistic” about the year ahead.  Many are waiting to see how the 2009 economic difficulties have impacted library budgets for 2010.  According to the analysts and industry observers we met with in London, things are brightest for those who provide medical/healthcare information or government data, but even those in the troubled news industry are projected to see an end to the revenue death spiral they experienced in 2009.
  • Most of the people we interviewed were quick to point out that conditions vary both by market sector and by geographic region.  While US information budgets may remain contracted this year, some vendors see hope in emerging markets.  So, in 2010 many vendors will be continuing to focus on growth opportunities abroad, which will help them maintain viability while US markets recover.
  • Other vendors stressed the importance of delivering services that help their customers reduce costs, increase revenues, or improve efficiency.  And a good number advocated that vendors be sensitive to conditions in libraries and offer libraries and librarians good value for money in order to help them serve more patrons with fewer resources.  Many also stressed the importance of focusing on services that will help libraries evolve and develop into the knowledge centers of tomorrow.

In looking for the industry’s story, we talked with users, vendors, and analysts.

You’ll find expanded and related coverage in the forthcoming January edition of  Information Today.

Thanks for joining us this year for our annual Live from London blog.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year

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.

From Dale to Dale

At the closing session of Online Information, a new conference chair for the 2010 conference was announced. Adrian Dale, the current chair, announced his successor, Stephen Dale. Although they share a surnane, they are not related. According to the official press release, Stephen Dale believes that “the social web is opening up a new era for massive collaboration, knowledge sharing and innovation,” which I’m assuming will be major themes for the 2010 conference.

Stephen Dale's official photo, obviously not taken in London in December

Stephen Dale's official photo, obviously not taken in London in December

Asia Beckons Online

I’ve been noticing, over the past few years, a decline in delegates from Asian countries. Apparently Incisive Media, producer of the Online Information conference, has noticed the same thing. So they’ve decided to take the conference, or a version of it at least, to Asia. Online Information Asia-Pacific will be held in Hong Kong, at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, on March 23-24, 2011. Since that’s over a year away, it gives people lots of time to think about exhibiting and presenting.

Conference Twittering

So far, there have been almost 2,300 tweets emanating from the conference. You can find the entire archive at Twapper Keeper. Most delegates’ tweets have been very positive, commenting on how many new things they have learned. The best part about conference coverage via Twitter is that the conversation continues after the conference ends. As people head back to work and reflect on what they hears and saw at the conference, they tweet and others respond. It certainly validates the theme of the program, which was Information plus Conversation results in Collaboration and Innovation.

The negative comments I heard from delegates were about money, as in they didn’t have much. Budgets are being cut, libraries are being closed, and staff are being laid off. The AIIP stand was very popular, as people look to self-employment as an antidote.