Monday, November 21, 2005

Talking with vendors

This year, I've interacted with many digitization-related vendors through one-on-one meetings, e-mail, and phone calls. Here's what I've learned:
  • Digitization vendors based outside of the U.S. (i.e., India) are reaching out to find potential customers. They use e-mail and phone calls to introduce their services and try to solicit business. Several vendors based in India have contacted me this year (one per month?), but only two U.S. digitization vendors have contacted me without any prompting. None of the digitization-related vendors in my geographic region have ever contacted me. (Yes, I do know who they are and what they do.)
  • Many of the vendors who are reaching out are those that are looking for big projects like digitizing corporate files and working papers (e.g., banking records). Sadly, many that I talk to don't realize that the requirements for digitizing materials from a library, archive or museum are likely to be very different.
  • Vendors are very picky about where they will exhibit their services (e.g., a conference vendor exhibit hall). Everyone wants to exhibit where the big customers will see them. However, they should also exhibit were smaller customers can also see them. You never know who knows who, and that small customer could lead to something very big. (Consider, for example, that a smaller organization is likely to find a major organization to partner with in order to create a more successful project.)
  • Vendors would be wise to learn what an organization thinks about when considering a digitization project, so they understand how their services fit into the entire mix.
I do like talking to vendors. Today I talked with two. And next week, I'll visit one of them. I think I can give a vendor the inside scoop (story) on what libraries, archives, museums and even corporations are looking for. And I like hearing what they are doing and who they are working with. Hopefully our conversations are mutual learning experiences.

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