Apparently a significant difference this year was that “younger, first-time participants” were on the panel. So here are the top trends to get our heads around:
- Discovery systems featuring aggregate indexes of subscription and local content e.g. Summon from Serials Solution, EBSCO Discovery service – apparently the “logical next step after federated search”
- Need to consider the concept of “user experience” (UX) as new technology-driven services are designed
- The “near universal adoption of mobile technology” as “libraries must be prepared for the inevitable change of patron expectations as they accomplish an increasing number of daily tasks on mobile devices”
- Augmented reality – “the combination of the real and virtual … in real time and in a 3-D nature”
- End of apps, new code – moving from platform-specific mobile downloads to the development of mobile-optimized web portals
- The reinvention of the book – some interesting comments here “ebook hardware is dying”; the future of reading is a software ereader to share work among multiple devices and a social reading platform. Apparently libraries should “steer clear of the hardware game” and the focus should be on content.
On Wednesday I went to a workshop technology strategy planning workshop – organised by LIANZA and presented by Richard Hulser. This would be a very useful course for those writing a technology strategy – either those who hadn’t done one before, or those wanting a refresher on what a good model would be. Sometimes courses like this don’t tell you anything new, but they the remind you/clarify your own thinking/confirm what you already know. It would have been useful in that context for me in previous jobs I’ve had, not so much the one I have now.
I was probably expecting a bit more of web 2.0 focus – and although this was mentioned it really wasn’t the central focus of this workshop. Having said that the workshop did remind me that while there is a lot of appeal in leaping in and giving things a go (particularly to help you learn about something), when it comes to utilising social networking technologies in customer services, this is probably better done in response to meeting a customer need/identified service delivery requirement, in the context of the overall organisational strategy.
The key thing for me is how we assess those needs. I think librarians still have a way to go to get good at this – we need to get better at at gathering information about our customer needs, and analysing the information we already gather via surveys, feedback forms etc.
Further to this – Why Web2.0 projects fail
As I have typed up my report for work I came across a very interesting blog post by Meredith Farkas who talks about why 2.0 initiatives fail – which gives some good food for thought about what you need to consider to make them succeed.
I’ve summarised some points here, as they are quite relevant to technology strategy planning as it relates to web2.0:
- social software implementations need to be tied to institutional goals – the library’s strategic plan
- web2.0 technologies need to be planned for in a strategic way
- first need to understand the needs of your population (patrons or staff) and then implement whatever technology and/or service will best meet those needs
- need to have clear goals in mind from the outset so that you can later assess if its successful or not
- social software can be a pet project for an individual staff member, it is important that cross-training takes place so that if that person leaves or gets too busy, the initiative continues
- web2.0 technologies are easy to start but keeping them going takes time and effort. You need to plan how you will maintain the technology e.g. adding content, updating the software. “Libraries need to plan for the implementation and continued maintenance of 2.0 tech in the same way they plan for the technologies they pay a small fortune for.”
- Library staff can end up abandoning web2.0 projects because they aren’t given enough time to work on then
- Before a project is abandoned try to figure out why it didn’t have the impact hoped for – is more promotion needed, are there barriers to usage (difficult to make comments, add content etc), are staff comfortable with the technology, has training been offered
- Just because a web2.0 technology isn’t a good fit now, doesn’t mean it won’t be in the future (worth remembering!)