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Magazines > Information Today > December 2015

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Information Today
Vol. 32 No. 10 — December 2015
What Trends May Come in 2016

What will next year’s information industry headlines be about? We’ve gathered a team of experts—some familiar, some new to these pages—to take an educated guess as to what we’ll be talking about in 2016. So whether it’s grand predictions about changes that will rock the technology and info pro world for decades to come, or smaller trends that might take center stage for just a year, join our experts as they take a look into possible futures of the industry.

Industry at a Tipping Point

Leigh Watson Healy
Chief Analyst, Outsell  

From 2013 to 2014, the total industry grew by 3.8%, from $738 billion to $766 billion. Our industry of information, media, and technology is a blend of fast-growing software, services, and tech companies and moderate-growth traditional content publishers and media. Hot spots are workflow solutions providers and data analytics-intensive businesses, startups, and newcos 1 that reflect the opportunities arising from the rapid convergence of content, technology, software, devices, people, and workflows.

Search and aggregation continues as the growth front-runner, but we predict that marketing automation, analytics, and CRM (customer relationship management) will edge from second into first place during the forecast period. Human capital management is the third growth hot spot, with all growing strongly well over the industry average growth of 3.8% in 2014. Along with financial; credit; and governance, risk, and compliance, these flourishing areas will continue to drive industry growth in the next several years.

Transformative change has long been the norm that drives success or failure in the information industry. This year’s meta-theme, Tipping Point, reflects different and bigger change in which soon everything is going to be very different, with forces in play that will fundamentally alter the nature of knowledge work. We identified 10 tipping points that are likely to have profound implications:

1. Millennials and How They Work

2. Machines Getting Smarter and Taking Charge

3. Enterprise Getting Into the (Content) Game

4. Hyper-Niche and Verticalization to Achieve Scale

5. Hyper-Scale Goes Big

6. Hyper-Aggregation Driving a New Wave of Disintermediation

7. Web Tipping to Apps

8. Convergence of Face-to-Face: Community, Commerce, Content, and Certification

9. Re-Platforming

10. Why Should I Work for You?

To understand these trends and opportunities, successful organizations that are looking to leverage these tipping points will pay close attention to the key funding sources for our industry: end users who buy and consume content, enterprise information managers who spend for paid content, and marketers and advertisers who decide the spending allocation for their marketing mix.

Permanent shifts are occurring and driving the industry to its tipping point. We see an equal number of opportunities and areas of unmet needs as well as holes in the market for innovators to fill, especially regarding high-quality company information, integrated access to multiple resources, cybersecurity, and horizontal and vertical markets.

Publishers, information providers, and enterprise information management executives who disregard these tipping points could soon find themselves at a competitive disadvantage. The winners are building muscle and capacity to seize these opportunities now.

For all the details, companies to watch, and our recap of essential actions needed to thrive and grow in our data-driven industry at a tipping point, download Outsell’s Information Industry Outlook 2016 at 

Possible Emerging Trends in 2016

David Lee King
Digital Services Director, Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library

I talk to a lot of libraries about their plans for the future, and I constantly scan the web for hints about emerging technology trends that might affect the future of libraries. Here are three trends that I think will start impacting libraries in 2016. (Some of these are actual emerging trends, and some of them lean more toward “tipping points”—trends that some libraries have already implemented, but have yet to be embraced by other libraries.)

Trend No. 1— Library websites join the 21st century. Today, most libraries have a website and probably some form of social media account (usually a Facebook page). Have you looked at those websites lately? Many are, for the most part, a bit out-of-date. Many are still hand-coded, aren’t using a modern CMS such as Drupal or WordPress, and still need the IT department to post and update content. In some cases, the library’s website back end isn’t even controlled by the library—it’s in the domain of the city, the county, or the university’s web services department.

I’d love for 2016 to be the year that libraries take back and update their websites. For many libraries, the first step toward that goal is to read up on modern website best practices, migrate their website to a modern CMS, and update the visual design of the site. The second step is to train public services staff to update and post content to the site.

The same thing needs to happen with the library’s social media channels. For example, it’s not good enough for today’s library to simply have a Facebook page. Staffers need to regularly post content, preferably multiple times a day. This helps the library look active and alive in Facebook and will help it stay top of mind (and on top of the Facebook feed) for its customers. Then repeat for all other library social media channels.

Trend No. 2— Makerspaces help re-“make” the library. Some libraries have jumped with both feet into the makerspace movement. That’s awesome. Many other libraries, however, are still in that “let’s wait and see where this is going” phase. Not so awesome.

I think we will see more library makerspaces in 2016. Many libraries are starting to plan small makerspaces or are allowing patrons to check out digital creation tools such as microphones or video cameras. They are discovering a new customer base—people who don’t necessarily like or need traditional library services but love to make things in an active and more social way. These libraries will have their plates full training staff on newer technology tools such as 3D printers or audio editing software, in addition to working with a very active group of customers who want to make things and share them in the library.

Another group of libraries have had a small makerspace for a year or more. Some of them have discovered that their new service is popular with their communities. They will need to figure out what to do next. Do they need more toys and tools? Do they need to expand the space? If so, where? In some cases, they might choose to remake the library in order to meet the demand of “making” in the library.

Trend No. 3— The Internet of Things (IoT) will start impacting the library. I think that IoT-related changes will begin to affect library services, both internally and externally, in the next few years.

The IoT will bring changes to internal library infrastructure and functions. Aging back-end systems will be replaced by newer, “connected-to-the-web” systems. For example, newer HVAC systems and lighting systems can now be controlled by apps on a staff member’s smartphone, even if that employee isn’t in the building. When problems occur with these newer systems, notifications and alerts can be sent out automatically to appropriate library staffers.

With notifications being sent to an employee’s mobile device, library leaders need to create a plan for BYOD services. Some issues to be considered with BYOD include the following: Does the library subsidize an employee’s personal mobile device? Or what happens if a staff member drops his or her smartphone at work while using it for work-related activities? Does the library replace it?

Externally, our library customers are becoming more accustomed to connecting to businesses and people via their smartphones. More people will want to connect to the library in this way too.

An easy way to facilitate mobile connectivity is by using social media channels such as Facebook or Twitter. There are other ways to facilitate connectivity too. For example, some libraries are currently experimenting with iBeacon technology and other similar sensor-based technologies that track customers throughout the library building, provide better gate counts, and push relevant information to customers about library classes and services. I think that as these location-aware technologies begin to mature, we’ll see more of them in libraries.

Improved websites, expanding library makerspaces, and the IoT in libraries are all great things for the library industry. I’m very confident that we’ll see each of these in libraries in 2016 and more in the years to come.

Technology, Practices, Publisher Interaction, and Privacy

Justin Hoenke
Director, Benson Memorial Library

When my library board of trustees asks me why circulation numbers for library materials are either remaining stagnant or decreasing from month to month, my answer isn’t one of half-truths and immediate reactions. No, the reason is actually kind of simple: The way communities use public libraries is changing. Gone are the days when public libraries can advocate for funding by showing off circulation and collection numbers. These days, the most important number libraries can collect and share deals with the number of people using the library building as a community center for work, lifelong learning, and gathering.

Measure the Future, a project by Evenly Distributed, will help public libraries show their worth in the 21st century. The project (which is still in beta) will allow libraries to track where visitors go and see what areas get the most use.Conceived by Jason Griffey (a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University) and built with the help of his development team (, it will let librarians “watch” a part of the library and produce what Griffey is calling “attention measurement.” The stats librarians can pull from Measure the Future will allow libraries to plan staffing predictively, test displays or furniture arrangements, check what rooms are most popular during different parts of the day or year, and much more. The end goal is to use stats to help create a better library experience for the patron and to help librarians in their day-to-day work.


Say what you want about Edward Snowden and groups such as Anonymous, but their actions over the past few years have everyone thinking about privacy. Created by Alison Macrina, the Library Freedom Project is a partnership among librarians, technologists, attorneys, and privacy advocates that aims to make real the promise of intellectual freedom in libraries. Through teaching librarians about surveillance threats, privacy rights, and responsibilities and by showing them digital tools to stop surveillance, the project brings a privacy-centric lesson to libraries and the local communities they serve.

In late 2015, the Library Freedom Project led a successful campaign to keep Tor exit relays in the Kilton Library in Lebanon, N.H. After some pressure by the Department of Homeland Security to remove the relays, the Library Freedom Project stepped up to the plate and advocated for their use. The board at the Kilton Library voted to keep the relays in place. As privacy laws change and people become more aware of what or who is tracking them on the internet, privacy will become an even bigger issue, and librarians, who are on the forefront of providing excellent service and learning to their customers, will lead the charge in helping communities understand this deep topic.

Community-Focused Programs

Last but not least, libraries will continue to focus more and more on giving the communities they serve exactly what they want. In an effort to stay relevant in an increasingly digital age, we’ll see the modern public library turn more toward community-focused programs and collections. “Plugged in” may be a common term, but in this case, it applies perfectly.

For example, take the Chattanooga Public Library in Chattanooga, Tenn. Its city is home to a municipal gigabit fiber optic network run by the local power company, EPB. Startups and technologists have been flocking to the city to take advantage of this great infrastructure, which provides a glimpse of our very near future. The Chattanooga Public Library, centered perfectly in the city’s innovation district, did not sit idly and watch this trend go by. In response to its community’s changing needs and demographics, it began to offer 3D printing, code camps for youth, vinyl cutters, and 1-Gbps internet access at the library for anyone who holds a library card. In addition, it partnered with Etsy to develop EtsyNooga, an ongoing series of workshops that helps folks begin and maintain a business.

For the city’s 2015 Startup Week, the library offered a series of programs called The Entrepreneur’s Public Library, which gave startups an introduction to how they can use the public library to better their businesses. Programs such as these reflect the community in Chattanooga and aim to best serve those people by connecting them with the library. In 2016, libraries will start to look more and more at their communities and give them what they want instead of assuming what they want. In this way, Chattanooga Public Library leads the pack and should be seen as one of the best examples of this trend.