Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The economy and digitization

Everyone knows that the economy is bad and many argue about how bad it is. This economic downturn has affected every country; some more seriously than others. With people and businesses seeing their savings/investments decreasing and governments having less money for providing services, money that digitization programs rely on may disappear. For example, it could be that the amount of money available for grants will decrease, while the number of organizations looking for grants will increase. Organizations that do receive grants may have a more difficult time raising the matching funds.

For digitization to continue, it will need to be seen as an integral component of the organization. It will need to be component that helps the organization meet the needs of its customers. The idea of "What can I digitize?" will need to be replaced with "What does my customer need? How does digitization satisfy that need?" Some of you may already be thinking that way, but some of you (I know) are not.

Once the argument has been made that digitizing materials will help to satisfy a customer need, then the organization will need to decide whether to do the work in-house or to outsource it. This analysis might include how the organization wants to use its fixed and variable costs. Fixed costs of those costs that are in your budget every month. Variable costs are those costs that vary from month-to-month, and that are easily cut. If the conversion is outsourced and then the budget becomes tighter, it is easy to stop that activity and save the money. However, if the organization invests in equipment, space, etc., those are fixed costs that cannot easily be eliminated.

The bottom line? As your funds tighten, focus on what your clients need. Make sure that your efforts are meeting their needs. And if digitization is that important to you, then ensure that it is clear -- crystal clear -- how your users/clients/customers will benefit from it.

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