of the American Society for Information Science and Technology       Vol. 27, No. 5              June / July 2001

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by Joseph A. Busch, 2001 ASIST President

The Internet Economy and Its Aftermath

There is no longer any doubt that the "Internet bubble" has burst. ASIST members who work in the private sector are experiencing cutbacks after several years of growth and prosperity. We read reports in the business press of rising inventories, caused by the failure of enterprise information systems, in particular supply chain management systems. The economy and the pace of business is slowing down. During the next 12 months, the effects of reduced tax revenues will trickle down to publicly funded organizations. There are two ways that organizations deal with economic slow down cutting or leveraging.

Cutting. In times of slowing revenue growth, organizations need to economize. An interesting trend is an effort to avoid layoffs especially in the high tech sector, because the labor market remains extremely tight still more than 400,000 unfilled positions. For example, employees in some companies such as HP have been asked to take a cut in pay to avoid layoffs. Many of you are experiencing cutbacks in travel and professional development budgets. This is to be expected in a tight economy. Our challenge is to be sure that ASIST is providing you critical ingredients of content, community and context that you need, especially in difficult times.

Leveraging . As the pace of business slows down, companies take steps to be more efficient. An interesting trend is the effort to capture more value from the output of workers, especially knowledge workers, by optimizing content re-use. Organizations are taking time to review work processes and the information systems that support them and to improve the processes and systems. Organizations are taking steps to mobilize their information assets to improve their operations. For example, many companies are going forward with B2E (business to employee) information systems in order to streamline management, communication and training especially in large, decentralized organizations. With the proliferation of information systems in organizations this means investment in systems that

    n Aggregate disparate and heterogeneous information assets;
    n Facilitate collaboration among distributed employees, contractors, sub-contractors and users or customers;
    n Manage heterogeneous information assets distributed among many information systems;
    n Add the metadata required to manage and power end-user applications; and
    n Distribute information packages to a variety of platforms and keep them up-to-date.

In sum, organizations are taking steps to get the most value from their content and from their content-centric applications, while controlling information management costs by optimizing content re-use. Information professionals have key roles to play in these plans for leveraging content assets.

ASIST Benefits for Today and Tomorrow

In times of change such as the current economic climate, we go to the movies to be distracted, we get together with friends to talk, we network with colleagues to compare notes and plan for contingencies, and we refine our skills as professionals. A recent discussion on the SIGIA listserv ( sigia-l@asis.org) included the following advice:

    Believe it or not, the most "traditional" librarian skills cataloging and indexing are the hottest job skills in demand among search engine and other high tech content companies. The technology is simple having the comprehension and skills to organize information is nontrivial. . . . Take at least one programming class, one on relational databases, basic Internet/Web programming (HTML, CGI, Perl, XML, Java, etc.), and the more theoretical grounding particularly knowledge representation and information design. paraphrased from a message by Zoe Holbrooks.

To help in this process, the ASIST Education Committee is surveying LIS programs to discover which are running courses on Information Architecture. Results will be posted on the ASIST website.

Also, many of the ASIST Special Interest Groups maintain listservs. To join a listserv, please contact the SIG listserv coordinators from the links on the ASIST SIG page www.asis.org/AboutASIS/asis-sigs.html.

ASIST also provides Jobline recruiting on the Web. Please see the Jobline page for latest job postings www.asis.org/Jobline/. A hard copy of Jobline is also mailed bi-monthly to ASIST members.

Another ASIST benefit that is not often mentioned is discount programs for members including the Member Insurance Program . The Society sponsors a package of insurance plans for its members at rates substantially lower than the costs of similar coverage on an individual basis. These plans include

    n Group Term Life Insurance
    n High-Limite Accidental Death and Dismemberment Plan
    n Disability Income Plan
    n In-Hospital Plan
    n Comprehensive Health Coverage
    n Excess Major Medical Plan
    n Medicare Supplement Insurance

Please see Member Insurance Program page on the ASIST website for details www.asis.org/AboutASIS/member-insurance.html.

Joseph A. Busch, 2001 ASIST President
jbusch@interwoven.com

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Copyright 2001, American Society for Information Science and Technology