The changing face of corporate information services

Last night I attended the SLA Europe organised event "The changing face of corporate information services – new service models and partnerships" this was billed as an opportunity to hear about how Information Services are being delivered to customers in the new world of outsourcing and was unsurprisingly very well attended with a number of familiar faces and Tweeters in the audience including KDPlee, BarbaraGordon, Tinamreynolds, LibClare, Nataliafay and MichaelRobson

I'm certain there were other people tweeting from the event, including Greg Simidian CEO of Perfect Information and another Librarian who I met very briefly after the event so apologies to them for not including their Twitter accounts here. Unfortunately one of the first things the Chair said was that "chatham house rules" applied to this event. This would be fair enough if the panelists were imparting confidential information but Allen & Overy's and CMS Cameron McKenna's work with Integreon has been well publicised. But stick to the rules we must...:(

Once the introductions were over the Chair asked each of the panelists to share their thoughts about outsourcing, where they thought it was going and why it was changing the face of corporate information services. It was interesting to hear these initial thoughts which really just introduced where the organisations were and what they thought outsourcing meant, surprisingly one panelist thought using Lexis Nexis was outsourcing, I'm not so sure about that. Certainly using a product like PLC might be considered outsourcing as they have lawyers available to answer questions but Lexis Nexis?

Of course we all know that outsourcing isn't a new concept, firms have been outsourcing legal work to other firms for as long as I can remember, documents are sent externally to be transcribed and Libraries have been using subscription agents for as long as I've been a professional librarian. However outsourcing ALL back office support functions or creating offshore service centres is new and should be a concern for every information professional. So why the new world of outsourcing, well traditionally outsourcing was a way of controlling costs but wouldn't have created much value. Nowadays outsourcing is seen as a way of controlling costs, providing better value and as a way to solve business problems. This drive for better value comes of course from law firms clients, they expect more for less, which means in turn the fee-earners expect more from less from their support

One of the most disappointing aspects of the evening was that nobody was suggesting an alternative to outsourcing or arguing against using outsourcing companies. Perhaps that was the point of the seminar, that there aren't any alternatives and that we must accept that corporate information services have changed beyond recognition and will no doubt continue to do so. Don't get me wrong I'm not totally set against outsourcing I just don't believe anybody has asked the difficult questions of people who have outsourced and Integreon.