Thursday, July 28, 2005

Competition in action

An article about the Encyclopedia Britannica (EB) caught my eye last week, because it brought to light a lot of issues marketers face in a way that resonates with librarians.

According to the Globe, Britannica has reconvened its advisory board in response to the competition posed by search engines like Google and Yahoo! as well as the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. Seems as though Britannica is concerned that researchers are turning away from its encyclopedias in favor of less authoritative sources of information.

Interestingly enough, this new competition isn't the only motive for change. EB is also responding to social and cultural changes by adding new entries concerning minorites and alternative groups and literature.

This is an illustrative example of how all of that business about environmental scans and competitive analysis comes into play in the "real world," even with library resources like EB that have histories dating back to the 18th century! If EB had been doing its homework, maybe it could have anticipated some of these changes before competitors got such a foothold. It's a good reminder to keep your eyes open and be prepared to change no matter how "established" a product or service is.

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