During ASIDIC's 25th anniversary meeting on Oct 3-5th, registrants were treated to an elegant banquet and dance at the Astor's Beechwood Mansion. Taissa Kusma of the American Institute of Physics is to congratulated on the arrangements including an excellent meeting room at the Doubletree Hotel which lent itself to maximum registrant participation. There was plenty of that, especially because of the excellent program put together by Tom Hogan of Learned Information, Inc. The meeting was titled, "Information Distribution in the 90s: Technology, Marketing, and Strategic Alliances"--a hot theme, especially "strategic alliances."
Here are some highlights of the meeting along with my commentary (in parentheses):
1. Peter Jacso of Rosary College wants information providers to label their databases so that users may better be able to understand database coverage, content, accessibility, and even the depth of coverage. (Everyone agreed it was a great idea but what in the world would motivate some database producers to confess to a lack of quality and others of high quality to spend the extra money to create labels in this decade of cost-cutting?)
2. Ron Dunn of MacMillan, Inc. faced reality in his talk, "Multimedia--The Truth." He emphasized that the success of multimedia products depends on the creation of content such that the product is uniquely a multimedia one. (It's like creating the content of a film which is quite different from the content of a book, even though the film may be based on a book. For the contrast, read the book, The Firm and then see the film by the same name. They are different products. I think Ron is saying "multimedia" is neither a film, nor a book, nor a combination. Think about it.)
3. Denise Lipkvich of GE Corporation delivered a most important paper titled "Lotus Notes/Hoover Initiates 'Organizational Learning' Team Behavior within a Fortune 5 Company." The aim of the program she described was to effect dramatic change in the information distribution departments of her company. Various GE libraries have been integrated and forced to rethink their ideas about customer satisfaction. (Studies I've made indicate that the biggest problem corporations face is a lack of communication between library, management information systems, strategic planning, and executive information systems, etc. groups. There is a decided lack of integration of information "territories" within a corporation. Ms. Lipkvich and GE Corp. seem to have found a way. Most interesting is that change has taken place as a result of a technological approach. You may want to confer with her.)
4. Sauli Laitinen of the Technical Research Center of Finland spoke of his experiences in using American information products in Europe. He outlined many problems such as the futility of 800 telephone numbers in Europe, the lack of paper size standards and other such trivial matters. (Did I say trivial? Sauli's paper was appreciated by all. There's nothing trivial about the problems he described. It is simply amazing that so many seemingly simple problems have not been solved over the years while we go orating about the importance of global networking and markets. It looks like we are about to clean up our act. Customer satisfaction is now a common expression. You have to agree, American cars are better than they used to be.)
5. Don Hawkins of AT&T Bell Labs asked whether there was a telecommunications company in your information future. His answer was an emphatic "yes." (You'd better believe it -- partnerships, partnerships, partnerships!)
6. Rick Noble of UMI attempted to determine where technology meets marketing in developing a new product and concluded that success is only achieved by a team approach between the two groups. The lack of it has produced a failure rate for new products of 90-95%. (Good marketing paper--good case history--good man with whom to confer.)