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Technology and Innovation: The Librarian's Dilemma


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Technology is like a fish. The longer it stays on the shelf, the less desirable it becomes - Andrew Heller

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Technology and Innovation: The Librarian's Dilemma

  1. 1. Eric Schnell Associate Professor Head, Information Technology Prior Health Sciences Library Technology and Innovation: The Librarian's Dilemma
  2. 2. Andrew Heller <ul><li>“ Technology is like a fish. The longer it stays on the shelf, the less desirable it becomes” </li></ul>CEO Heller Associates; lead IBM RS6000 team
  3. 3. David Thornburg <ul><li>“One of the worst things that Xerox ever did was to describe something as the office of the future because if something is the office of the future, you never finish it. There’s never anything to ship, because once it works, it’s the office of today. And who wants to work in the office of today?” </li></ul>The Thornburg Center
  4. 4. Presentation Overview <ul><li>- Clayton Christensen </li></ul><ul><li>- Sustaining and disruptive technologies </li></ul><ul><li>Are libraries organized to innovate? </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges </li></ul><ul><li>Solutions? </li></ul>
  5. 5. Clayton Christensen <ul><li>- “Innovator’s Dilemma” </li></ul><ul><li>- Hard drive industry </li></ul><ul><li>- Why do good managers fail? </li></ul><ul><li>- Sustaining vs. disruptive technologies </li></ul><ul><li>- Value and resource allocation </li></ul><ul><li>- Separate organizations </li></ul>
  6. 6. Factors that Inhibit Innovation <ul><li>Organizations are designed to focus on and protect existing practices than pay attention to developing new ideas. The more successful an organization the more difficult this is. </li></ul><ul><li>Innovation transforms the structure and practices of an organization. </li></ul><ul><li>The problem is creating an infrastructure conducive to innovation </li></ul>Van De Ven, Andrew H. “ Central Problems in the Management of Innovation”
  7. 7. Sustaining <ul><li>Improves the performance of established products or services that mainstream customers have historically valued </li></ul><ul><li>Organizational structures and resource allocation remain (relatively) unchanged </li></ul>
  8. 8. Disruptive Innovation <ul><li>“… new organizations can use relatively simple, convenient, low-cost innovations to create growth and triumph over powerful incumbents…” </li></ul>
  9. 9. Disruption <ul><li>- Is a process, not an event </li></ul><ul><li>- What is disruptive for one organization may be sustaining to another </li></ul><ul><li>- Is not limited to technology </li></ul><ul><li>- Can occur in any service market </li></ul>
  10. 10. Sustaining vs. Disruptive
  11. 11. Sustaining vs. Disruptive
  12. 12. Sustaining vs. Disruptive
  13. 13. Disruptive Innovation <ul><li>Innovative product or service initially underperforms established market </li></ul><ul><li>Customers pay a premium for improvements </li></ul><ul><li>Disruptive technologies often do not meet functional needs of high-end customers </li></ul>
  14. 14. Disruptive Innovation <ul><li>Overshot customers will pay premium for improvements </li></ul><ul><li>Many no longer pay premium for improvements because of competition </li></ul><ul><li>Organizations marketing to overshot customers are vulnerable to disruption </li></ul>
  15. 15. Sustaining vs. Disruptive
  16. 16. Sustaining vs. Disruptive
  17. 17. Sustaining vs. Disruptive
  18. 18. Sustaining vs. Disruptive
  19. 19. A Librarian’s Dilemma ? <ul><li>- Survey current customer needs </li></ul><ul><li>- Place value on sustaining services </li></ul><ul><li>- Have organizations designed to focus on and protect existing practices </li></ul><ul><li>- Allocate resources to support sustaining services </li></ul><ul><li>- Lack organizational structure conducive to innovation </li></ul>
  20. 20. Librarian’s Dilemma <ul><li>By listening to our customers and placing value and allocating resources on what they “ need ,” are libraries destined to meet a fate similar to hard drive manufacturers? </li></ul>
  21. 21. Challenges <ul><li>  </li></ul>
  22. 22. Library Innovation?
  23. 23. Library Innovation? <ul><li>Digital library systems </li></ul><ul><li>Chat reference </li></ul><ul><li>Link resolvers </li></ul><ul><li>Metasearch interfaces </li></ul><ul><li>Content management systems </li></ul><ul><li>Electronic resources management </li></ul>
  24. 24. Library Innovation?
  25. 25. Library Innovation?
  26. 26. Library Innovation?
  27. 27. Library Innovation?
  28. 28. Innovation in Libraries <ul><li>It is very difficult, if not impossible, to identify any of the requirements and needs for a potentially disruptive technology. This is because we don’t know anything about the technology. It can’t be analyzed. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, the goal of the innovation process in libraries should be one of l earning and the exploration of new ideas and not meeting the needs of our current customers. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Roy Tennant <ul><li>“…prototyping can be a useful and efficient way to explore functionality and design in the very early stages of a project. Such feedback can prevent serious and expensive course corrections later, or, more important, keep you from releasing a system that inadequately or erroneously addresses the need you sought to serve. ” </li></ul>Library Journal May 15, 2006
  30. 30. Stewart Brand <ul><li>“Demo or Die” </li></ul>in 1988 book about MIT Media Lab
  31. 31. Are Libraries Organized to Innovate? <ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Do administrators really understand today’s technology environment? </li></ul><ul><li>If not, how can they affect organizational and process change to foster innovation? </li></ul><ul><li>If so, what are libraries doing to create new organizations and processes? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the best practices? </li></ul>
  32. 32. How are Decisions Made? <ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>Current customer demands </li></ul><ul><li>ROI </li></ul><ul><li>If so, what are libraries doing to create new organizations and processes? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the best practices? </li></ul>
  33. 33. Challenges <ul><li>- Libraries are resource dependent. Cater to those providing the funding. </li></ul><ul><li>- Libraries wait until new technologies are popular enough to be interesting, then buy them from vendors </li></ul><ul><li>- Libraries plan to create committees that do the planning </li></ul>
  34. 34. Resource Challenges <ul><li>Budgets </li></ul><ul><li>Staffing </li></ul>
  35. 35. Budgets Unshelved © 2004 Overdue Media LLC
  36. 36. Budget <ul><li>&quot;You must appeal to the public you have. People who pay taxes want what they are paying for.&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>John Shelton, former director, Gwinnett County Public Library </li></ul><ul><li>Carrie Young “ Bestsellers at Center of Controversy ” Gwinnett Daily Post. June 11, 2006 </li></ul>
  37. 37. Budgets Library Journal Automated System Marketplace 2006 Increasing cost of serials Increasing cost of software licenses
  38. 38. Budgets Nicole C. Engard. Where does III fit? I’d say it’s like a crazy cousin you have to deal with because he’s family”
  39. 39. Staffing <ul><li>Administrative 17% Reference/Information Services/Outreach 16% Acquisitions/Collections/Tech Services 15% Subject Librarian/Bibliographer 10% Archive/Special Collections 10% Instruction/Literacy 10% Cataloging/Metadata 8% Circulation/Access Services 5% IT/Systems 4% Digital Library/Media 3% Web Services/System Design 2% </li></ul>ACRL Job Site Jan 1 – May 8, 2006
  40. 40. Solutions? <ul><li>- Budget Reallocation </li></ul><ul><li>- IT Decision Making </li></ul><ul><li>- Disruptive Technology Play Group </li></ul><ul><li>- Organizational / Process Structure </li></ul><ul><li>- Collaboration/Open Source Consortiums </li></ul>
  41. 41. Budget Reallocation <ul><li>- Rethink sustaining services </li></ul><ul><li>- Rethink open positions </li></ul><ul><li>- Position sharing </li></ul>
  42. 42. Decision Making <ul><li>- Involved IT staff from start? </li></ul><ul><li>- Is IT support assumed? </li></ul><ul><li>- Are priorities set in an authoritative or directive manner? </li></ul><ul><li>- Do pet projects take precedence? </li></ul>
  43. 43. Disruptive Technology Group <ul><li>- Creative / brainstorm / sandbox </li></ul><ul><li>- Tech savvy members </li></ul><ul><li>- Operates outside SOP </li></ul>
  44. 44. Organizational / Process Structure <ul><li>- Build for change (vertical teams?) </li></ul><ul><li>Technology / service lifecycle </li></ul><ul><li>Processes and procedures. One size does not fit all. </li></ul><ul><li>Innovation pigeonholed into existing processes will lose it’s potential. </li></ul>
  45. 45. Collaboration/ Open Source Consortiums <ul><li>- Partner with other organizational IT groups / position sharing </li></ul><ul><li>Library systems paradigm </li></ul><ul><li>2005 ILS marketplace alone: $535 million </li></ul><ul><li>Open Source ! </li></ul>
  46. 46. Bottom Line <ul><li>Library administrators need to think out of the box for solutions, not for solutions that comes out of a box </li></ul>
  47. 47. Thank You! <ul><li> Comments? </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li> [email_address] </li></ul>