Robin Neidorf Jinfo for content purchasing
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By Robin Neidorf

Abstract

Many information professionals are scrutinising their budgets for content purchasing but what should be considered beyond price? Jinfo's director of research, Robin Neidorf, reports.

Item

The final months of the calendar year are "crunch time" for many information services with responsibility for content purchasing. At Jinfo, we're engaging in many discussions and projects around the variables affecting stakeholder education on ROI, purchasing decisions, and contract negotiations:


Internal changes

Across our entire customer base, Jinfo sees a consistent trend towards declining usage of premium databases and content sets. Whilst there are exceptions to this trend, the overall chatter has been about lowered usage statistics, resulting in deep concern on the part of heads of information services about demonstrating value and securing renewals. 

Declining usage rarely has a single contributing factor, and usage in and of itself is not a good proxy for value. But the data presents a dual conundrum: how to get the most value from existing investments in content (on the one hand), and how to work with stakeholders to better define and measure the value content brings into the business regardless of the level of usage (on the other).

And sometimes dropping content is in fact the right decision, but it takes a searching and unbiased evaluation of the needs of today (and tomorrow) to make that decision with confidence.


Vendor trends

Feedback about price rises and mismatched expectations of product value emerges in every industry - every content purchasing department faces significant challenges in balancing proposed price increases in the double-digits for some products with budgets that are flat (at best). 

Our customers regularly ask about the impact of private equity investment in vendors as a contributing factor to price rises and changing business models. An upcoming article explores this trend, with comment and observations from both the vendor and the buyer side of the commercial relationship.

But any of the big changes in structure can have a similar impact on pricing - mergers, acquisitions, even spin-off of product lines and business units have all contributed to pricing shifts.

For their part, vendors cite the deepened and ongoing investment in features, technology and usability as contributing factors to price rises. No surprises here, certainly, but we encourage vendors to be as transparent as possible with their customers about the product road map, to ensure that those investments are aimed at developments their customers value.


What's coming in your next contract?

When content purchasers plan their next round of discussions, new topics are on their list for discussion with vendors:

  • Access to data: Tomorrow's content usage will be based more on access to data than licensing of content products. Even if their organisations have not yet fully embraced this change, content purchasers need to know how their content suppliers are approaching it. What commercial terms do they offer for data access, with what features and restrictions? 

  • Platform-agnostic content: In a similar vein, more customers want to pull content from various suppliers into a single platform, either of their own development or licensed from the marketplace. They may still want comprehensive content products, but at the same time, increasing flexibility to pull one product's content into another software environment is key.
  • Shorter-term contracts: Given the amount of flux and uncertainty around value and moving towards a "data-first" strategy, many content purchasers are opting to extend contracts by one year or two years, rather than locking in terms for three years. Many content purchasers we work with are undertaking comprehensive needs assessments (now, or early in 2017), and want the flexibility to make the changes they need in 2018, even if it means slightly higher costs in the near-term.


How Jinfo supports content purchasing

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