I’m privileged to be chairing this year’s Online Information Conference, which starts this Tuesday, 30th November and runs until 2nd December. The conference is linked with the Online Information Exhibition, with over 200 international exhibitors and more than 9,000 attendees from over 40 countries across the globe. The exhibition covers 6 different subject areas: Content Resources, ePublishing Solutions, Library Management, Content Management, Search Solutions and Social Media.
It’s hard to believe that 12 months have elapsed since the previous conference. Where did that time go?
The social media revolution continues apace, with many hundreds of new apps and web services appearing each day. The technology we use at home or in our pockets is often far more advanced than what we use in the workplace. We’re using mobile devices (iPhones, iPads etc.) that give us instant access to the web, and have a choice of literally hundreds of thousands of applications that support our on-line activities and lifestyles – over 300,000 apps for the iPhone alone.
Some commentators have likened the disruptive effects of social computing to the industrial revolution of the early 19th century. The main difference now is that whereas large Enterprise used to lead technology innovation, it’s now being driven bottom-up by users and consumers. We’re now all connected and far more willing and able to share knowledge and co-create.
I’ve lost count of the number of start-ups and services that have been spawned on the back of Twitter, which maybe demonstrates the inherent scalability of the intranet and the web, where potentially millions of users can be supported by a teenager with a PC working from his bedroom. Delivering services with minimal infrastructure is one of the new paradigms of the social web; the threat to traditional red brick business models is no longer confined to their traditional big business competitors, but also lightweight “micro” businesses that use web services to provide scalability and agility.
We’re also seeing a revolution in the use of open and linked data. Driven primarily by the public sector in response to the expectations of citizens for greater transparency in government, which in turn has spawned a whole new breed of Social innovators and armchair auditors. Everyone is now a data analyst. We’ve never had so much data and information to play with.
Coupled with this we have the “Google effect”, with users now expecting almost instant access to information as it happens. Accuracy and objectivity is becoming less important than speed and accessibility.
All of this is driving rapid behaviour change in both society and the workplace. Whether we’ve realized it or not, consumers are now driving the technology revolution and business is trying to keep up.
How are users and business adapting to this changing information and technology landscape? What innovative new products and working practices are emerging from the disruptive effects of these changes? This year’s conference will be looking at all of these issues, with presentations and an insight from some of the industry’s leading thinkers. This year we have four tracks or themes that will look at many of these industry trends and issues:
1. Exploiting open and linked data. Introduced as a track in its own right in 2009 and of growing importance especially in the public sector; open and linked data is creating new opportunities for information professionals and the creation of new information services and products.
2. Harnessing opportunity from the social web and the cloud. Although the use of social media is now mainstream in many organisations there are still barriers and limitations that are preventing the benefits of social media to be fully realised. This track gets to the heart of the issues with many real world experiences.
3. Information Professionals demonstrating value and impact. In economically straitened times when information services are under scrutiny information professionals need to be able to demonstrate value and impact to justify their existence, focus will be on challenges facing academic libraries and new projects that are using cutting edge technologies to deliver positive bottom line results.
4. New platforms and user behaviours for delivering content. Focusing on using mobile and “the cloud” to deliver information services, how are libraries and organisations using these technologies, what are the opportunities, how will these technologies change the future role of the information professional?
We also have a great line up of speakers, with special mention for our keynote speaker Dion Hinchliffe, an Internationally recognized business strategist, enterprise architect, author, blogger, and consultant on Web 2.0, enterprise architecture and co-author of the book ‘Web 2.0 Architectures‘.
So, I’m hoping that all of the delegates will make the most of this year’s conference. The quality of the papers and presentations submitted to the organizing committee has established a new benchmark, and I for one will be looking forward to attending as many sessions as I can. If you are a regular reader of this blog, or know me in either a social or business capacity, please do come and say “hello”.