Multi-billion dollar information industry at tipping point

The nature of knowledge work is fundamentally changing, which could lead to an opportunity renaissance for the information industry, says research firm Outsell.

Irreversible changes impacting on the information industry mean that the sector has reached a tipping point, with risky times ahead for organisations that do not adapt, according to research and advisory firm Outsell, which has released its 2016 Information Industry Outlook Report.

Outsell values the information industry at $766.5 billion and includes fast-growing information, software, services, and technology companies as well as moderate-growth content publishers and media within its definition of the sector.

The report identifies a number of specific trends that are driving the overall change.

One area of change centres around the fact that, according to US Census estimates, the millennial generation will account for half of of the workforce by 2020. Millennials will be moving into influential management positions in three to five years. Thus in order to succeed, organisations must recognise that their methods of collaboration, and their discovery, use and sharing of information are very different to those of previous generations.

Another tipping point, which the report calls “machines getting smarter and taking charge”, hinges around the Internet of Things and big data. According to Outsell, “cognitive computing on top of big data from the Internet of Things is tipping power to the algorithm”. This will drive further changes in how people work and make decisions in industries such as healthcare, law, education and finance.

Disintermediation has been discussed for years, but the report highlights a new wave of disintermediation being driven by “a new wave of hyper-aggregation (which) is creating value by delivering content assets into workflows into new ways”. An example is CSRHub, which rates and ranks the social responsibility of over 15,000 companies by aggregating millions of data points from many different sources of company information. From a user’s perspective, this hyper-aggregation is more than the sum of its parts, and “there’s likely to be no turning back to single resources.”

For media companies and publishers, a key trend is the ubiquity of mobile devices: “mobile, always-on, instant ask-and-answer demand” means that “mobile first” design must rule the roost: “the device and the app are becoming the interface, with huge implications for workflows at the desktop, the need for seamless single sign-on, and integration of content into the work stream anywhere a user is with a screen.”

The report also explores trends that matter for information management and libraries, highlighting the importance of seamless access, the need to adapt to new realities and doing more with less, and the re-envisioning of the use of space. Although core library competencies remain essential, the report urges information professionals to redefine traditional services: “understand and apply data, analytics, and emerging technologies; be proficient marketers and brand advocates; facilitate learning and adapt quickly in cross-disciplines; and problem solve, collaborate, and deliver strategic outcomes and value.”