What's Ahead for 2004?
It's that time again. The calendar has flipped over to
2004, and there are grand hopes for the information industry's
future. The economy is bouncing back, even though there
have been some industry layoffs as we went to press. Regardless,
this year's "What's Ahead?" article finds optimism
in the following predictions of our 11 contributors, all
of whom are well-known figures in the business. Best wishes
and Happy New Year to them and to all of you, our valued
CEO and President,
North American Legal Markets
Looking into 2004 and a little beyond, I have several
For the information industry generally, we think the
innovation process is critical to any company's future
health and growth. I like CIO magazine's explanation
of innovation: "Innovation is development that shows
a marked departure from past practices with a promise
of significant results."
The innovation process is where future growth lies:
creating new product and service ideas, incubating them,
and putting them into the innovation pipeline for launch
in the marketplace. Our industry has gone through a
couple of years of belt-tightening in response to difficult
economic conditions. But now is the time to grow profits,
which fuel more innovation. Companies that are still
in a cost-cutting mode are going to have a rough go
of it competing in the near term.
My second thought relates to our key business market:
legal professionals. We see clear signs that the "globalization"
of the legal profession creates a need to serve clients
and customers locally and globally in a supportive legal,
information, technology, and business environment. We
recently conducted a survey with the International Bar
Association of attorneys around the world and found
that most of the respondents see the increased globalization
of the legal profession as an opportunity to increase
the efficiency of trade and improve the profession overall
through increased competition.
Technology will obviously play a large role helping
legal professionals who are working locally, working
within local legal systems, and speaking the local language,
yet often having to understand compliance and law in
other locations around the world where their global
clients have operations.
In the past, the timing of technology has been an
issue. Many times, companies implement new technology
for the sake of technology. What we've come to understand
in our 30 years of business is that different markets
move at different paces. It's vitally important to listen
carefully to customers and ensure that service providers
use technology to create and deliver the right product
at the right time.
As an attorney myself, I can confirm what we all really
know: Attorneys are analytical and are trained to look
before they leap. As they have become more and more
comfortable with Web research and tools, we have worked
carefullyand sometimes cautiouslyto design
new products that do what they ask: give them the right
answer, enhance their productivity, and help them comply
with the law. That same lesson is applicable in serving
customers on a global scale.
Last, we've heard the term "knowledge management"
for years, and I believe we're finally at a point where
the technology can deliver on the promise of KM. Whether
its portal applications or technology that provides
simultaneous access to external content and internal
work product with enhanced functionality, knowledge
management tools and technology are coming to the forefront
and will certainly impact the practice of law and other
professions in the coming years.
The British Library
The following are the key issues as I see them for
1. Understanding user behavior. The confluence
of changes in the nature of research within scientific
disciplines, the new IT infrastructures, international
and cross-disciplinary collaboration, etc., are changing
users' behavior in the online environment. All need
to be more understood.
2. Metrics. Consequently, measuring behavioral
patterns is not only important but equally possible
as log downloads are analyzed rigorously. Standards
for doing this (e.g., through COUNTER) will provide
the comparative element. Such metric analyses should
be complemented by other types of user studies.
3. Standards. More generally, the move to open,
easily accessible, and interoperable standards is helping
researchers gain easier access to more relevant information
(such as CrossRef, ONIX, etc.).
4. Open access/open archives, in all its versions,
will have a role. The jury is out on the impact it will
have on traditional scientific information exchange.
The emotive element surrounding this movement from both
sides (traditional and New Age publishers) needs to
be bypassed, allowing more fruitful analysis of mutual
benefits and weaknesses.
5. Archive and preservation. A challenge facing
the scholarly/scientific information sector is how the
provision of information (particularly the increasing
vogue towards retro-digitization of journal literature)
enables the library and end-user communities to feel
safe that their access rights are guaranteed in perpetuity,
and that trusted repositories are supporting this with
6. e-Science. Selective sciences are currently
refocusing their attention away from literature-based
information services towards enhancing the knowledge
database (possibly resulting in additions to a numerical,
sequence, protein, etc., data set being the prime objective,
and not a printed article. Nature and Science
both have such novel information projects). This has
profound implications for the nature of information
7. Collaboration and partnerships. Trends towards
Big Science in particular call for new partnerships,
often across traditional stakeholder activities, and
new, specialized types of information services. The
information map will change through this cross-fertilization
of content and distribution partnerships.
8. Legal inconsistencies. Despite recent EU
Directives, the playing field for some traditional support
services (edocdel for example) is uneven, distorting
the natural processes and allowing politics to take
over from economics and efficiencies in the allocation
of information support resources.
9. New services. A shift from a static "come
and get it" to a proactive "we have it and we are giving
it to you" approach is emerginga return to the
old SDI concepts in a new electronic form. Personalization
and customization of information according to known
end-user requirements (identified above) seems inevitable
10. Information portals and information environments
will proliferate, with input of new types of information
(through procedures such as RSS), providing richer,
more multimedia experiences. Text will merge with bulletin
boards, video and audio, news services, etc., to deliver
information packages that meet a broader definition
of the end user's "total information needs." Is information
architecture the latest fashion?
And finally, business models, business models, business
models ... We don't have these cracked yet and will
need to continue collaborative work that explores workable,
Last year, the information business was affected by
the difficult situation the economy in general was facing.
Enterprises and institutions have responded to this
in different ways. Dismissals of staff could not be
avoided. I hope that in 2004, the mergers and acquisitions
in the course of the monopolization trend in the publishing
business will come to an end. The Big Players will "get
things straight," rationalize, focus their activities,
and make investments themselves and/or look for investors.
In order to survive and to remain independent, the
remaining providers have to take appropriate measures.
A proven way to achieve this are partnerships and strategic
alliances. Particularly in Germany, the institutions
involved in information and documentation will work
together more closely in order to ensure a powerful
and independent supply of information. At the same time,
they will maintain a competitive position in the international
There are smaller service providers who use information,
which they can get free of charge from the patent offices,
for their own products. So they can be able to compete
with the big, established information providers.
The information industry has to respond to the market
requirements in science and economy quickly, flexibly,
and intelligently. Just reacting is not sufficient.
We also have to take proactive steps in order to anticipate
future trends and requirements. Further developments
will consider the Web technologies and tools used by
our customers and be adapted as much as possible to
their working environment. The focus will be on solutions
that support information and knowledge management and
render work processes more efficient.
To create added value is still an important task of
the information industry. The increasing competition
forces the established providers to continuously enhance
the famous added value of their products and services
and to convey this to the customers. Content, tools,
and service will to an increasing extent be tailored
to the needs of the two target groups: information professionals
and end users. In particular, the information professionals'
demand for full texts and an intelligent linking and
presentation of content (as well as for analysis and
visualization tools) will be satisfied.
Access ways and user interfaces will be seamlessly
integrated into the intranets of enterprises and academic
institutions. Special marketing strategies in the field
of customer relationship management will be a decisive
factor to retain existing customers. This is something
all providers will focus on.
The Google age offers excellent conditions for activities
aimed to increase the information competence. Our industry
will also be active in this field.
In 2003, open access was a main topic and will also
be of primary importance in 2004. Scientific organizations,
libraries, and universities discuss and test new business
models for providing free access to scientific information
on the Internet, thereby evading commercial publishers.
How will the industries concerned react? Will it be
possible to reconcile the different interests?
I think 2004 will be an exciting year with many interesting
challenges and pivotal moments for the information industry.
Nstein Technologies, Inc.
Most of my career has been spent managing firms in
the IT world. However, as the CEO of a technology supplier
to the information industry, I've had the good fortune
of becoming quite familiar with many information producers
and aggregators. In fact, I've spent a good part of
the past few years getting to know the market, and more
recently drawing conclusions about where I believe it
is headed in the years to come.
At the risk of generalizing, I believe that this mature
and well-segmented industry has experienced very similar
difficulties when compared with most mature industries
in recent times: consolidation with a focus on operating
costs as a means of retaining shareholder value.
As is also the case with these same industries, 2004
brings the optimism of growth for the information industry.
Ultimately, I believe that the winners will be those
who embrace a creative approach in satisfying their
customer's information needsnamely, finding exactly
what they're looking for quickly and affordably regardless
of the information source. This "revolution" has begun
and will be the key revenue driver for the information
industry in the years to come. Major global IT suppliers
are beginning to understand that as well. Despite a
number of structural impediments within the industry
at this time, there is much that can be done in the
very short term at an information-provider level that
will generate significant revenues using creative meansrevenues
that can be generated by maximizing the value of information
inventories under their control.
Specifically, I believe that exploiting valuable "bits
of content" from within vast databases of unstructured
information is the key to maximizing revenues in the
coming years. In order to do it most profitably, technology
will play the most important role, thanks to a new generation
of software tools capable of understanding the "aboutness"
of content and slicing and dicing it to meet the customer's
needs. These tools are now far past the stage of experimental
In fact, from Nstein's perspective, many information
providers are now seeing the full potential of such
new technologies. While these tools were being used
primarily as cost-savers, they are now (as recently
as the past couple of years) being employed to generate
revenuesin many cases, significant revenues. In
short, we'll be witnessing the emergence of a series
of solutions within the offerings of the information
provider that will give a complete new meaning to the
famous expression "the right info at the right time."
As a concluding comment, in preparing my thoughts
for "What's Ahead?" I reviewed the predictions of last
year. Almost without exception, the themes of consolidation
and value emergedas well as the effective use
of technology in answering the customer's needs and
in driving profitability. While consolidation has dropped
off the plate, replaced by strategic growth, customer
value and the use of intelligent technologies will remain
for a good while, confirming my belief that technology
will be the key profitability driver.
Factiva, a Dow Jones & Reuters Co.
President and CEO
Today's business strategists and technology executives
are faced with several new and different challenges.
Business practices are changing and evolving, the time
span of the decision-making cycle is continually being
compressed, competition is aggressive, and the rate
of innovation is rapidly increasing.
To retain competitive advantage, executives need to
provide employees with better tools for their jobstools
that will offer more time for decision-making and that
will give employees confidence in the choices that they
New developments in technology have progressed our
industry, and we're confident that 2004 will be the
year in which innovative technologies developed in the
last couple of years will help organizations to carry
out sophisticated information strategies that will enable
better decision making.
In recent years, technology has acted as an enabler:
getting bits of information from one place to another
both quickly and more flexibly. It has acted as a mechanism,
an option for delivery, but today, the value of technology
to content is intrinsic.
Newer, more flexible technologies such as Web Services
and XML are the great equalizers of information: unlocking
content stores, revealing previously unknown information,
and linking it to related information stored both within
an organization and in other places, such as the Web
or commercial information services. Organizations that
put these technologies to use as part of their information
strategy will gain competitive advantage.
Simplifying the research step in the decision-making
cycle is a growing and evolving challenge. Changing
the current work-flow process may require a cultural
shift in the organization, but getting relevant information
to users within the context of their work will reap
productivity and bottom-line benefits.
Workers of the futurethose who've cut their
first teeth on video games, instant messaging, and the
Webwill be more exacting about the answers that
technology delivers. They'll expect intuitive tools
capable not just of understanding who they are and precisely
what information they need, but also capable of continually
learning and recognizing their new and changing interests.
It will be an individualized information experience
driven by "who you are"knowledge gained from a
corporate directory that will enable ad hoc customization
Text analytics and visualization technologies will
further enrich the user experience in the decision-making
process. Such technologies rapidly recognize associations
among textual elements and can then present them graphically.
This ability will permit executives to identify trends
at the early stages of development or display material
relationships that might signal customer, partner, or
supplier activity. Acting quickly upon information will
reduce risk and benefit the organization. Without these
technologies, this information might otherwise be buried
in a mountain of information that would be impossible
It's clear that in 2004, we'll enter the early-adopter
stage of applications based on these developments. Successful
organizations will align their information strategies
with their business strategies, capitalize on these
technical advances in information management, and more
effectively deal with the business challenges that they
facethus creating competitive advantage.
Computer Library Center
President and CEO
At OCLC, we recently completed an Environmental Scan
that we are just now starting to share with our member
libraries and the information community. To develop
the scan, we interviewed 90 players in the library,
information, and technology domains; reviewed some 250
articles and papers; and did extensive global research.
Let me share some of the trends that we foundthey
will likely have implications for the information industry
in the year ahead.
Users. Information consumers are exhibiting
three characteristics that bode change for the way we
in the information profession do things. First, these
information consumers are spending more time online
doing things for themselves, whether for banking, shopping,
travel, research, or entertainment. They are comfortable
with Web-based information and content and are heavy
users of Google. Second, these information consumers
are generally satisfied with the results that they get,
whether from Google or from their other online activities,
even though the results may not be as authoritative,
reliable, and accurate as librarians would like. Third,
information consumers, especially young adults, expect
seamless access to whatever they want whenever they
want it. In 2004, information professionals need to
focus on making the structure of library and library-based
content on the network more attractive to these users.
Economics. The saga of limited resources versus
unlimited needs will continue, no matter what the worldwide
economy does in 2004. Libraries must reexamine their
internal resource allocations in an increasingly digital
world. Most important, libraries and allied organizations
must be able to demonstrate their value very explicitly
to their parent organizations and funding agencies.
Technology. The spread of data-exchange standards
such as XML and MP3 and broad access to the Internet
are creating a new, collaborative technological landscape.
Information professionals are trying to bring structure
to unstructured data: material on the open Web, special
collections, and institutional content. There will be
continued movement toward distributed, component-based
software that will facilitate the extension of Web services
(business processes delivered over the Web based on
industry standards) and a shift from monolithic, bound-together
technology solutions. There will be continued development
of open-source software applications, which will likely
mean an even faster rate of new technology introductions.
There will also be continued movement from technologies
that provide copyright protection (owner-centric) to
frameworks that enable rights management (user-flexible).
Research and learning. Academic libraries will
need to work on building strong links between library
services and systems and new developments in e-learning
and scholarly communication. This means, for example,
that libraries need to be proactively involved in the
development of institutional repositories and e-learning
initiatives and must take a stronger role in the management
of their institution's intellectual assets. Libraries
will also be required to devote more resources to digital
content management and to think about preservation as
part of the responsible stewardship of those resources.
When you put all these trends together, the library
and information community is in for a lot of evolution
in 2004. (The OCLC 2003 Environmental Scan is available
ProQuest Information and Learning
The information industry is never dull. In 2004, opportunities
abound for improving access to information. I predict
the following trends.
First, there will be greater demand for quality content
delivered within a framework that provides quick, accurate
access. Quantity of content will be less relevant than
quality. The use of linking technologies will accelerate,
which will expose the strengths and weaknesses of indexes
underlying most databases. As databases increasingly
serve as pointers to full text residing elsewhere, the
importance of quality indexing will become more critical.
Always a valued asset for ProQuest users, indexing that
is thorough, accurate, and rich will take center stage
for databases as customers demand quality search results
within a discipline that is efficiently linked to the
text either within the database or elsewhere.
In another facet of quality content, libraries will
pursue more specialized information to support specific
subject areas and unique research needs. As aggregated
databases become commoditized starting points, the research
process will drive users to highly specialized databases
providing highly relevant results connected to with
unique content. For example, librarians and users have
responded with unprecedented enthusiasm for ProQuest
Historical Newspapers, which provides the full archive
of major newspapers in electronic format. The opportunity
to search rare content via the Web is a powerful benefit.
We see this as the next important wave in database publishing,
and we're working with librarians and faculty to identify
opportunities and needs.
Second, industry consolidation will continue at a
rapid pace. Forward-thinking information providers are
redefining their missions, broadening their content
and product offerings, and obtaining technology/capability
developed by well-funded startups in the Web boom years.
ProQuest's recent acquisitions are emblematic of the
consolidation taking place throughout the industry.
Companies with similar missions, cultures, and technologies
are coming together. The result is favorable for customers
and users as product content expands and technology
is cross-pollinated. The opportunities for growth and
bringing new content to life are exciting. As the economy
begins to swing upward again (knock wood) and as libraries
begin to see much-needed funding restored, information
providers will have the chance to grow and succeed.
We believe quality indexing, specialty publishing of
unique content, and industry consolidation are key elements
for success in 2004 and beyond.
Robert J. Massie
Chemical Abstracts Service
I recently read an article about "gerrymandering"
of districts that elect members of the U.S. Congress.
The term refers to the outlandish shapes that are concocted
to purposefully advantage one political party over another
in the individual U.S. states. Today, this process is
aided by software and databases that allow almost instantaneous
analysis of voter patterns by precinct and even by street
and household. Anyone holding this program can become,
with a bit of experience, a virtuoso at manipulating
congressional borders and, ultimately, the political
makeup of Congress. (The U.S. Supreme Court may once
again, in 2004, take up the issue of "how much is too
much?" in this regard, but that is a tangential point.)
What do I see in 2004? And what is the relevance of
gerrymandering software and databases? What I see is
the increasing realization of the potential for technology
and content to solve targeted problems and provide high
value-add solutions. From manipulation of large data
sets, to uncovering knowledge embedded in data, to supporting
very specific business and scientific challenges, the
information and publishing industries will continue
to customize, focus, target, and solve problems as opposed
to providing large, unrefined information sets.
For CAS, 2004 will see the 20th anniversary of the
STN partnership, the leading online service for sci-tech
professionals. Together with the dynamic new managing
director of FIZ Karlsruhe, Sabine Brünger-Weilandt,
we are planning a suite of new services targeted on
making the information professional's use of sci-tech
information all the more relevant, cost-effective, and,
yes, even exciting and groundbreaking. STN has long
offered the most valuable collection of chemistry and
other scientific data online, with powerful search and
analysis tools like STN Express, Analysis Edition, just
released. 2004 will see new tools and new approaches,
and hopefully for nobler purposes than gerrymandering.
The following are the three key themes emerging in
the information industry in 2004:
The expanding role of search engines as
a one-stop solution for searchers
Seamless desktop information integration
Acceleration of primary-source digitization
This could be the year we see the role of search engines
further expand in importance, invading the traditional
space of the premium and proprietary database providers.
They will expand by integrating premium, relevant content
in the initial search instead of just linking to Web
Driving this expansion is a group of end users with
broad research needs satisfied by the rapid convenience
that search engines provide. This is evidenced by looking
at Google alone, which handles more than 290 million
searches per day.
Which brings me to the second development for 2004:
seamless, integrated desktop searching. Driven by the
research demands of search engine users, seamless desktop
searching will provide premium information and content
within the same program. This is best illustrated by
the recent completion of Microsoft Office 2003, which
provides direct access to Thomson Gale business information.
For example, if a Microsoft Office user is writing
a report and needs information about a company, all
they have to do is highlight the company name to receive
Thomson Gale-published company profiles directly within
the applicationseamlessly. They don't have to
exit one program and access another to find the information
they need. For most general searchers, this seamless
searching provides convenience and increases productivity.
Lastly, we'll see an increase in the digitization
of primary-source information in 2004. This acceleration
is being fueled by customers' demand for fast access
to searchable primary-source materials that will uncover
new research and teaching possibilities, coupled with
advancements in imaging and process software that have
dramatically reduced the cost of collection digitization.
Traditional microfilm collections, though still valuable
for archival purposes, are difficult to search. Instead
of scanning miles of hard-to-search microfilm or traveling
to libraries that house primary collections, digitization
makes once hard-to-find or rare information available
in one database that's convenient and easy to use.
The common threads among these information industry
developments for 2004 reflect society's current yet
conflicting views about information: It should be easily
accessible; it should be available seamlessly at the
click of a mouse; it should be accurate and vetted;
and it should be available to all.
It didn't take the sharpest of ears to hear the distant
echo of a tidal wave still resounding through the information
industry in the last year following the changes in economic
and corporate fortunes post-9/11.
Today, for the survivors, the outlook is significantly
brighter. In July, U.S.-based information industry consultants
Outsell reported a 7.9-percent increase in revenues
across their top-100 information content providers compared
to the first quarter of 2002. Could this mean a return
to calmer waters?
Our belief at Ingenta, as intermediaries helping some
260 scholarly publishers as well as librarians and readers
in some 15,000 institutions worldwide to access content
from some 6,000 publications, is that the tsunami has
still got some way to run. In essence, moving beyond
the first phases of "information adrenalin" and "content
chaos," energy is now being put into simplifying the
process of accessing information online.
Many initiatives point the way to "nerd-free nirvana"a
blissful world where the technology is so good you don't
even notice it's there. But much still needs to be put
in place so that what you want gets to your desktop
without much effort.
Some possibilities for 2004:
Even greater consolidation of online services.
Just as corporate consolidation of online services will
continue, so will librarians and researchers increasingly
use tools to create seamless access to the whole of
a library's electronic resources together with others
that they don't have within their collections. Resources
like Microsoft's Research Pane and library portal toolkits
will assist in this.
Increasing connectedness of content. While
significant progress has been made towards connecting
content to other relevant content, there is still a
long way to go before the information professional can
jump intuitively from an item of interest to all other
kinds of relevant resources and to have the process
assisted by computational power rather than a handcrafted
link. Researchers will increasingly demand that scholarly
resources are RSS- and RDF-compliant.
More sophisticated access control. The more
apparently seamless the leap from desktop (or blog)
to content, the more crucial a sophisticated information
commerce system becomes, combining the features of e-commerce,
access control, and digital rights management. This
has been one of the major investment areas for Ingenta,
and we will continue to roll out new services in 2004.
Throughout the industry, energy is being spent on
ensuring that information professionals can focus on
the key aspects of their new roles in the online world.
Namely, providing the right IT infrastructure, licensing
content their readers need (and paying for it only once),
and providing a convenient Web access point for that
contenta brave new world we at Ingenta wholeheartedly
Co-founder and CEO
Create, re-create, recreate!
We are optimistic about the outlook for the information
content industry in 2004. The past few years have been
tough for many people and companies in the industry.
We've been dealing with asteroids falling out of the
blue: new technologies, the entry of new competitors
with no respect for the conventions of the industry,
the fragmentation of markets, users with sky-high expectations
for information products, and industry economics permanently
2004 will be about dealing with the aftermath. This
is the year of an expanding IC universe. The asteroids
have fallen and done their damage. What remains today
resembles a post-Big Bang world: an ever-expanding universe
moving outward in all directions. We mean "expanding"
in three senses.
First, we expect traditional economic and financial
expansion, with plain old growth remaining the norm.
We forecast the Outsell 100, our representative group
of publicly held IC companies across all sectors, will
grow by 5.6 percent in 2004.
Second, the people, companies, and roles in our industry
are expanding in different and sometimes contradictory
directions: users acting like creators, content markets
increasingly atomized, libraries liberating themselves
from their physical surroundings, and XML freeing content
from the documents and archives that bind it. Our industry
is not on some linear path toward an ideal state or
equilibrium, but rather moving on multiple, fragmented
paths to an unknown but bigger future. The creative
energy is amazing.
Third, after any Big Bang, it's going to be messy
for a while. Linear paths are neatly defined; mastering
diverging paths is going have a different look and feel.
It looks a lot like play, with large doses of spontaneity
and imagination. The changing universe offers multiple
opportunities for creating new businesses out of planetary
shifts and asteroids. We see a positive, expanding energy
in the industry around creation, fun, and widening horizons,
but only for those who seize it. It's time for the people
in the industryvendors, buyers, deployers, and
usersto get out of the classroom and out on the
playground, where fun and creativity can be a big part
of their work. Our mantra for 2004 is less about working
hard and more about playing hard.
Who'll be having fun in 2004? Bloggers are re-engineering
the way people experience the news. Scholars are thumbing
their noses at the publishing establishment. A handful
of IT research firms are causing fits for the established
players while delighting their clients. Even eBay is
moving into the content playground, selling product-pricing
data culled from its millions of transactions. The growth
and excitement is coming from the people who are innovating;
nobody's growing by doing the same old thing.
We look forward to creating, re-creating, and recreating
with the industry throughout 2004!