The NewsLink Spotlight on Jan. 5 was Part 1 of this year-end wrap-up. See http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/nbReader.asp?ArticleId=52127. In Part 2 I cover the trends I’ll be watching in 2009 that I expect to have an impact on libraries and the information industry. I also present a wrap-up with links to some of the most interesting coverage from other commentators and analysts. Please let me know if there’s something big I’ve missed or you would like to comment on something I’ve included. Add your comments using the link at the end of the article.
For ongoing coverage, my monthly NewsBreak Update column in Information Today provides regular news highlights and analysis of trends. And, please, if you have comments on the news, questions, information to share, or an issue you’d like us to investigate, please drop me a note, using the link below.
Trends to Watch in 2009
Will 2009 be the year of the new frugality? Not necessarily a bad thing, IMHO.
Here’s a list of some of the trends I’ll be watching this year:
- Growth in the mobile web (increasingly location-aware services)
- Growth of technology in emerging markets
- Growth in the international web
- Open source solutions looking increasingly attractive to companies cutting costs (and the longer the economy stays depressed, the more attractive they will be)
- Web apps (from companies such as Google and Zoho) gaining traction over expensive software solutions (e.g., from Microsoft)
- Increasing traction for open access journals
- Increasing use of social networking services for communication (rather than email)
- Increased data portability among systems
- Growth in enterprise social networking
- More innovative web mashups
- Further developments in semantic technologies and applications, increasing the context of content
- Enterprise search becoming increasingly more discovery-oriented, with easy browse and navigation powered by faceted metadata
- Increasing movement to enhanced library catalogs (reviews, ratings, tags, etc.)
- Consumer technologies continuing to drive innovation and influence enterprise adoption (from "The Hour of the Vendor Strategist: Three Mega Business Trends Will Reshape the Tech Sector," by Forrester Research)
- Publications moving to online only, dropping their print versions (unprofitable titles may simply disappear)
- During the economic recession, vertical content sites having an advantage over general sites
- Ongoing book digitization projects—some partnering with Google, others making it on their own
- More options and improvements in ebook readers, increased adoption, and, hopefully, lower prices (Amazon Kindle, Sony Reader, iRex suite, Foxit eSlick, Bookeen Cybook, etc.)
- Revenues generally being thin everywhere
- New transparency in government with the Obama administration
- More consolidation in many industries
- Security and privacy remaining major concerns (this one is permanently on my watch list)
SLA is offering members (for a fee) a Click U Live! webcast on Jan. 29, 2009, called "Ten Trends & Technology for 2009." The presenter is Michael Stephens, a speaker well known to many from the Computers in Libraries and Internet Librarian conferences. He’ll be covering transparency, micro-content, open source, and more.
Through Other Lenses
As usual, the search engines have posted their top search lists for 2008:
For predictions on where open access is headed, check out the very reasoned comments of Peter Suber in The SPARC Open Access Newsletter, www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/12-02-08.htm as well as his comments on 2008, www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/newsletter/01-02-09.htm.
There’s a new study by the very useful Pew Internet & American Life Project. The report, "The Future of the Internet III," includes predictions from nearly 1,200 experts, including scholars and internet stakeholders, about what path the internet will take (http://pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Futureinternet3.pdf). Not surprisingly, mobile devices will be the primary way to connect to the internet, and the division between work time and personal time will be further erased.
Mary Meeker at Morgan Stanley gave an interesting presentation at the Web 2.0 Summit, Nov. 5, 2008, in San Francisco, called "Technology/Internet Trends"
(www.morganstanley.com/institutional/techresearch/pdfs/TechTrendsWeb2_110508.pdf). With the online world so closely connected to the larger economic picture, she says we shouldn’t expect to bounce back very soon. Saul Hansell of The New York Times called her message "cheerful gloom."
Her key points include the following:
- Amazon.com should continue to gain share because of its high customer satisfaction and recommendation engine.
- Search should continue to become more important (based on growth in queries).
- Best news–history proves that ads follow eyeballs; it just takes time.
- There are opportunities in the mobile internet market.
- Her closing thought: "Companies with cogent business models that provide consumer value should survive/thrive–consumers need value more than they have needed it in a long time … and the internet should be the best place to find it. …’
IDC is always an excellent source for industry statistics and analysis. It recently released its "IDC Predictions 2009: An Economic Pressure Cooker Will Accelerate the IT Industry Transformation" (December 2008) and over the next month or so will issue dozens of industry-specific predictions documents (www.idc.com/research/predictions09). Here’s a brief overview with its list of 10 predictions for 2009.
In 2009, two powerful forces will collide in the IT market: a deep global recession and a radical IT industry transformation that has been in progress for the past several years. These two forces, interacting with each other, loom large in virtually all of our 10 predictions themes for 2009:
- Global IT growth will be cut in half.
- Emerging markets and small businesses spending will slow significantly—but outperform the market even more than in 2008.
- The IT industry’s expansion to "the cloud" will accelerate.
- The struggling offline economy will drive more shoppers to the online economy.
- The telecom industry will consolidate and expand (into cloud-based services) in 2009.
- It will be a grim year for mobile gadgets—as volume growth flattens in mobile phones, as netbook PCs expand the market but threaten notebook pricing and margins, and as consolidation looms in personal navigation devices.
- The crumbling of the "business/personal" wall in IT will accelerate.
- The reinvention of information access and analysis will accelerate in 2009—driven by blowback from the financial industry fiasco, the growing information avalanche from social networking and digital video, and the ambitions of key vendors to own the last—and most strategic—patch of IT market real estate.
- Green technologies will have a good year, disguised as "cost cutting."
- Government initiatives in 2009 will catalyze massive IT investments and industry growth—focused on economic recovery, energy and health industry streamlining, and improving financial markets’ stability and transparency.
The industry advisory firm Outsell, Inc. has issued its "Information Industry Outlook 2009: No Guts, No Glory." Despite the tribulations of news and some B2B trade publishers, and the effects of the global recession, Outsell projects steady growth of about 3 percent each year for this industry, which should reach $400 billion in 2008 and $412 billion in 2009. The new report is available for $495 at www.outsellinc.com/store/products/794?refid=pr794.
CMS Watch’s analyst team peered into 2009 and came up with 12 predictions for buyers of content technologies (http://cmswatch.com/Feature/189?source=EM1217). The economic downturn will surely have an impact, say the analysts, but a plethora of broader trends will surface as well, including some hesitation in the face of the next SharePoint, bad omens for Oracle, and perhaps even long-awaited consolidation in the web CMS industry.
The December 2008 issue of Information Today featured four industry experts with very salient comments on "Forecast 2009: What’s on the Horizon."
LinkUp Digital features an article by Reid Goldsborough called "Future Trends in Personal Technology" (www.infotoday.com/linkup/lud010109-goldsborough.shtml). It highlights some predictions from a fee-based report issued by JWT, formerly J. Walter Thompson, the well-known advertising agency (www.jwt.com), titled "10 Trends for 2009."
An interesting source for "forecasts and advice for looking ahead and staying ahead" is the Kiplinger Business Resource Center (www.kiplinger.com/businessresource). For example, the Economic Outlook section aggregates and summarizes a lot of government and private sector data to give a sense of what to expect in key areas such as interest rates, employment, energy, housing sales, and retail sales.
FindLaw has released its Top 10 Legal Predictions for 2009 at http://news.findlaw.com/features/2009top10.html. The forecast of legal hot topics includes urban living, employee rights, "green" laws, military rights, and legal issues impacting small business.
Last year, I hesitatingly reported on the forecasts in The Trends Journal by Gerald Celente, founder of The Trends Research Institute (www.trendsresearch.com/journal08.html). This is what he predicted for 2008: "Just as the Twin Towers collapsed from the top down, so too will the US economy from an Economic 9/11. When the high-stake speculators, banks, brokerages, and buyout firms that leveraged billions with millions get hit ... everything underneath them will turn to rubble. …" Pretty eerie, if you ask me. He was so sure of predicting "The Panic of 08" that he secured the domain name, Panicof08.com in November 2007. Well, in November 2008 the institute predicted "The Collapse of ’09" as a Top Trend for 2009. "We are so sure of this forecast that we have recently secured the domain name, Collapseof09.com."
He predicts a pretty grim picture by 2012, with revolution, food shortages, and riots—worse than the Great Depression. "It’s going to be very bleak. Very sad. And there is going to be a lot of homeless, the likes of which we have never seen before. Tent cities are already sprouting up around the country and we’re going to see many more."
Here’s how Computerworld blogger Dan Tynan feels about this: "The problem with making dire predictions like this is that modern economics is really an enormous confidence game. Like voodoo, it only works if you believe in it. You want to create a run on the banks? Tell people there’s a run on the banks. So Celente isn’t helping anybody except the folks who want to see the world collapse in the next four years, for entirely self-serving reasons."
I agree with Tynan. Wishing you all the best in 2009!