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Magazines > Information Today > December 2016

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Information Today
Vol. 33 No. 10 — December 2016
What Trends May Come in 2017
by Justin Hoenke, Leigh Watson Healy, and Jason Griffey

As we start to recover from the—how to put this delicately—“interesting” year of 2016 (seriously, what other year in recent memory has had such high highs and low lows? Pokemon Go … Hiddleswift … U.S. politics … Zika … Deadpool … Brexit … Simone Biles in Rio … Ryan Lochte in Rio …), it’s time to look ahead to 2017, specifically, to the information industry trends we’ll be talking about next year. Information Today sought out three info industry experts, each with a different take on what to watch for. Justin Hoenke has a list of best practices he’d like to see libraries adopt. Leigh Watson Healy talks about the importance of putting data first. And Jason Griffey predicts an even more decentralized web.

Focus on the Here and Now

Justin Hoenke
director of Benson Memorial Library in Pennsylvania

Customer Service

When people walk into your library, do they see a smiling staffer ready to help them, or do they see a staffer who clearly looks bored and frustrated by his or her job? While it may seem as if it’s a very little thing to focus on, a moment like this will determine whether or not a community member will be visiting the library again. In 2017, I’d like for libraries to focus even more on how to deliver great customer service to their communities at the everyday level. Are your shelves looking tidy? Are your staffers welcoming and helping those in the library? Do your community members view the library in a positive light? These are all questions we should be asking ourselves as we move ahead. Libraries in 2017 will thrive or struggle based on their customer service. Always remember that word-of-mouth grassroots advertising is the best recommendation your library can get. Great customer service on the everyday level will ensure that the local conversations around your library are positive and healthy in the community.

Focus Locally

If you spend any time on social media or reading a library-related magazine, you’ll see the same things: fancy furniture, big programs, and the latest and greatest in technology. But is that really what’s happening in libraries these days? What we should be doing in our libraries in 2017 is focusing locally. Ask yourself this question: “What does your local community need?” Is it a big, fancy makerspace? Or is it as simple as a few extra chairs and some meeting space for community members? Think about the needs that you have at the local level, and work to handle those first. They will make a difference in your community and give you the most bang for your buck. Once you have that taken care of, take the next step and dream big. But first, remember those you serve.


Like it or not, we’re part of the political game. Our libraries are funded by tax dollars, and our communities have a right to understand how libraries use their funds. But what can we do when conversations turn toward cutting funding and library support? The answer is to speak up and be a positive force in your community about libraries. These conversations need to start now, long before any discussions about funding cuts begin. Building and maintaining relationships with local leaders through open and positive communication can help to keep libraries in political conversations and help to ensure funding for years to come.

A great resource to help you understand politics and libraries is the group EveryLibrary. Patrick Sweeney, EveryLibrary’s political director, says, “When 80%–90% of funding for libraries comes as a direct result of local political action and support, we need librarians to understand how the work that they do and can do can directly impact their funding. We need to teach librarians how to build radical supporters in their community who will believe in and fight for libraries, not just use them. EveryLibrary works hard to work with libraries and teaches librarians and library supporters how to navigate this political ecosystem and build their community support.”

Since its founding, EveryLibrary has worked with 41 libraries and has helped libraries win more than $100 million in stable funding. Through training, research, national data building, and voter education, EveryLibrary can help us navigate the tricky world of politics and give librarians an edge in how to build relationships with our local leaders. If you would like to learn more and get involved, you can visit EveryLibrary at

Get Data, Get Set, Go

Leigh Watson Healy
chief analyst at Outsell, Inc.

Today, in a networked, social, and mobile world, convergence has taken place. As we enter the third age of computing, it’s all about data and harnessing it to run businesses, optimize performance, make money, and save money. Data-driven, data-savvy, and data-rich—many companies are realizing there’s increased alchemy in the connectedness of data, smart machines, and human creativity that can turn data into gold for the organizations that harness its power.

Industry Growth

Our fast-growing industry of information, media, and technology is now worth $1.5 trillion. Hot- spots continue to be data-intensive businesses and platform solutions providers for fully integrated content, software, services, and workflows on any device, anywhere around the world. Adtech, martech, and content rights management solutions are the segment growth frontrunners, and we predict double-digit growth over the next few years. Health information and IT remain hotspots for growth, along with human resources services and solutions, with talent management an ongoing challenge that’s driving demand. These segments will grow well above the industry average growth of 5.2% CAGR (compound annual growth rate) over the next few years.

Outsell’s 2017 Meta-Trend: All Data, Nothing but Data

Data is exploding and rapidly changing the information industry landscape, and success will come to companies that seize the moment, leverage the data, and recognize how to extract value from these uncertain times. Data is the enabler. Smart applications and analytics are the disruptors. Successful organizations are leveraging data throughout all areas of the enterprise. Savviness in developing applications and analytics capabilities that take advantage of data is a differentiator among peers and a leading indicator for overall business performance. Forward-thinking CEOs and COOs—and the rising role of the chief data officer (CDO) and its morphing into the chief analytics officer (CAO) role—recognize that this vast expansion of data within their own enterprises creates opportunities.

In the information industry, companies have long made money on solutions that support key application areas, including marketing and customer acquisition, risk and compliance, legal solutions, financial services, education, training and human capital management, and other areas. Today, however, we are seeing enterprises, under their CDO-meets-CAO, do these same things. They are using data to support operational performance in areas such as digital marketing, risk and compliance, human capital management, supply chain optimization, and so forth. Increasingly, enterprises such as GE, Boeing, Ford, and FedEx recognize that they can use data to predict performance to help them become better stewards of shareholder value.

10 Trends That Matter

What does data-driven, data-savvy success look like? Where is the action? Who will succeed? To answer these questions, Outsell identified the trends and companies most likely to drive industry change, disruption, and success in the years ahead. The winners are focused on seizing these opportunities now and are paying attention to, responding to, or, more importantly, proactively developing strategies and plans that address our 10 data-driven trends that matter. They are:

  • Geopolitical and Economic Uncertainty
  • Talent Shortfalls
  • Data-Driven Enterprises
  • Connectedness, AI, IoT, and Robotics Retooling Verticals
  • The Rise of Platforms
  • De-Siloing Data to Meet Innovation Demands
  • Mobile Payments and the Future of Money
  • Advertising Gets Smart to Survive
  • Virtual Realities—The Next UI Is No UI
  • Cyber-Security

For all the details, the companies to watch, and our recap of essential actions needed to thrive and grow in our data-driven industry, download Outsell’s Information Industry Outlook 2017: All Data, Nothing But Data (outsell

Embrace Emerging Technologies

Jason Griffey
affiliate of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

My focus over the last several years has been on watching the wider technology landscape and trying to make best-guesses about what will end up being most important for libraries. I’ve had good guesses (I began writing about 3D printers in 2006 or so) and a couple of bad ones (I loved Google Wave). Here’s the emerging technology that I’m going to be watching attentively in 2017 and a potential area of concern for libraries as well.


The trend that I’ve been noticing is the rise of decentralization for the technologies behind the scenes of the internet and web. The last 5 years or so have seen the ever-upward growth of the first successful decentralized cryptocurrency in bitcoin. The underlying technology stack that makes bitcoin work, called the blockchain, is emerging as a panacea for all types of digital information needs. It’s being used to design decentralized alternatives to the Domain Name Server (DNS) system, social networks, eBay, and more. If you can imagine a service that you use on the internet, somewhere, right now, someone is trying to build an alternative that is powered by the blockchain.

This effort for decentralization is arising as an answer to the consolidation of power that some see in our networks, both communication and social platforms. When corporations such as Facebook and Twitter own the servers that most of our communications flow through, lots of things are lost. The ability to move to other services is impeded because of the lock-in effect, and, in general, users of these services are almost completely powerless in relation to the service owner. In a decentralized network, the users and the service are one and the same; the people who partake in the service are also providing the service itself and thus have some control over how it functions. I’ve written a bit about how I think that libraries could be a vital part of the future of the web if we learn to embrace these new services, and I hold out hope this may still come to pass ( libraries-can-save-the-int.html).

Metrics and Statistics

There is a hopeful trend that I would like to see start to take root in libraries. Last year, Justin Hoenke talked about my ongoing attention metrics project for libraries, Measure the Future ( I’ve given a ton of time to thinking about metrics and statistics and how we measure things in libraries over the last couple of years. My biggest concern is that while, in general, libraries are getting better at analyzing and making decisions based on data (which I am 100% in favor of), I also recognize that there is hidden danger unless we are very careful about the things we decide to measure.

Organizations tend to optimize themselves around their success measurements. If we metricize outcomes and report them as success thresholds, we are then beholden to those in power to continue to have those successes. This can be seen in the history of libraries in the increasing collection size and optimizing for circulation statistics during a time when we should have been preparing for the digital future. It is possible for this cycle to become incredibly destructive, even to subvert the original intent of the metrics themselves. See, for instance, the measurement of website clicks and the rise of user-hostile interfaces and advertising practices on the web. I would love to see a conversation in libraries about which statistics are useful for us, which statistics have the potential to be destructive, and how to encourage the use of the positive ones for reporting to funders and boards.

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