In the Summer of 2021 the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority [CMA] unconditionally approved Education Software Solutions’ [ESS] merger with ParentPay.
ESS (formerly Capita ESS Ltd), the leading provider of educational software in the UK whose solutions are used in more than 19,000 schools, universities, colleges, academic and public libraries, is now a ParentPay Group company. ParentPay is the leading provider of payments systems to the education market in the UK, the Netherlands and Germany, with over 18,000 customers.
ESS was acquired by Montagu from Capita at the beginning of 2021, with the intention of merging the business with ParentPay once the CMA had given its approval. Following the merger, Montagu remained as an investment partner in the enlarged ParentPay Group.
Mark Brant, CEO of ParentPay, said: “We are very pleased to be able to welcome the ESS team into the ParentPay family. This is excellent news for customers, colleagues and shareholders. Both companies are well known and established ed-tech businesses with highly complementary products, people and values.” Both companies are customer-focused and share a belief that our technologies can deliver efficiency gains for customers, allowing them to help improve educational outcomes and life-long learning. The combined group is the leading ed-tech company in the UK and is committed to accelerating innovation in the sectors we serve.
Trends in the library technology market – A UK perspective . Ken Chad. CILIP Buyers Guide. February 2021. Ken Chad analyses the underlying issues and trends that are shaping library technology with a focus on public libraries and libraries in higher education (HE). It concludes that libraries need new approaches to technology to support changed needs. It addresses themes such as community engagement for public libraries and new solutions for research and teaching and learning in HE. Many current library systems vendors are mired in supporting legacy library management systems that hamper them in delivering the transformative approach needed. Only those that can deliver new higher value solutions will thrive in the longer term.
2022 Library Systems Report. An industry disrupted. By Marshall Breeding 2 May 2022
From the report:
"Events of the last year have reshaped the library technology industry. Previous rounds of acquisitions pale in comparison to the acquisition of ProQuest by Clarivate, which has propelled the leading library technology provider into the broader commercial sector of scholarly communications. This deal signals that the gap in size among vendors is widening, as ProQuest businesses Ex Libris and Innovative Interfaces also join Clarivate.
The emergence of such a large business at the top of the industry has accelerated consolidation among mid-level players that aim to increase scale and efficiency to remain competitive. This was a banner year for consolidation of midsize competitors, with more acquisitions than any prior year.
These deals raise concerns about weakened competition, but they may also enable new industry dynamics that will spark innovation and synergy within the broader research and education landscape. Small companies with visions for innovation often lack the resources to deliver, which larger companies can provide. Increased investor and stockholder involvement, however, translates into pressure to maximize profits and growth. The way these competing dynamics play out has important implications for libraries.
Some disruptions happen more gradually. Library management systems based on open source software show steady growth. Koha, especially when supported by ByWater Solutions, continues to make inroads among US public and academic libraries.
2021 Library Systems Report. Advancing library technologies in challenging times.
By Marshall Breeding 3 May 2021
From the report: "Solidifying a consolidated industry
Business acquisitions spanning multiple decades have consolidated the library technology industry into one dominated by a handful of large companies. Organizations such as EBSCO Information Services, Follett, OCLC, and ProQuest have assembled diverse portfolios of products, some of which complement other content offerings and services not covered in this report. These organizations are massive: EBSCO Information Services employs 2,852 globally. Across its businesses, ProQuest has a workforce of 2,740—including 1,461 employed at the parent company and the rest via subsidiaries including Bowker, Ex Libris, and Innovative. Follett, with $3 billion in revenue in 2020, employs 1,758 (including its subsidiaries). OCLC reports 1,238 total personnel. The remaining organizations that participated in this report employ a combined total of 1,316 people, reflecting the economic clout of the top tier."
2020 Library Systems Report Fresh opportunities amid consolidation
By Marshall Breeding American Libraries 1st May 2020
"The library technology industry took some significant turns in 2019. Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, acquired Innovative Interfaces and shifted the balance of power, strengthening Ex Libris’s position in technology for academic libraries and propelling it as a major player in public libraries. This move narrows the slate of competitors in an industry already offering few viable options for many libraries".
See also Marshall Breeding's Library Technology Guides dashboardwhich brings together data, trends, news, and other resources
See the Systems Review page to see a list of every UK HE Institution with their library related systems
See the Procurements page to see who is out to tender and who has bought a new systems
Recenter Library Systems on the User .An Interview with OhioLINK’s Gwen Evans. Scholarly Kitchen [blog]
ROGER C. SCHONFELD 24 FEB, 2020
From the blog post..
"OhioLINK and its members have grown frustrated with current offerings as it becomes harder and more labor intensive to gather and analyze collection and usage data at the consortial level, ensure seamless access, deliver faster, more transparent delivery of print, and connect our resources to other systems on campuses".
"Ultimately, the single most essential aspect of the OhioLINK vision is to recenter library systems on the user — rather than on the library or its collection. Many library systems are essentially acquisitions and inventory management platforms at their heart. OhioLINK is looking for systems that are fundamentally centered around the user’s search for information, desire to access it, and efforts to utilize it effectively"
"It’s notable that OhioLINK is working to transform the market for a given product category, rather than responding to the initiatives of vendors and publishers".
It’s Not What Libraries Hold; It’s Who Libraries Serve Seeking a User-Centered Future for Academic Libraries
Gwen Evans, Roger C. Schonfeld Ithaka [White Paper] January 2020
From the foreword
"The mission of academic and research libraries is expanding, and our work is transforming. Collections alone are no longer sufficient to articulate our new value proposition and establish ROI to our institutions. Our academic and research libraries are doing more than just managing collection-centric resources, we are contributing to faculty productivities and student success. As we aim to support the goals of our colleges and universities and maintain mission relevance, including technological advancement, we must also understand and support the evolving needs and requirements of our users"
Library Systems Report 2019 Cycles of innovation By Marshall Breeding American Libraries 1 May 2019.
“The library technology industry, broadly speaking, shows more affinity toward utility than innovation. Library automation systems are not necessarily exciting technologies, but they are workhorse applications that must support the complex tasks of acquiring, describing, and providing access to materials and services. They represent substantial investments, and their effectiveness is tested daily in the library. But more than efficiency is at stake: These products must be aligned with the priorities of the library relative to collection management, service provision, and other functions".
From tradition to change. Rebecca Pool. Research Information 29 September 2017
"Complex workflows and new services are driving developments in cloud-based library management systems" A summary of the market focussing on the cloud based library services platforms Alma (ExLibris) Worldshare (OCLC) and Folio (open source)
The new role of the library in teaching and learning outcomes By Ken Chad & Helen Anderson. Higher Education Library Technology (HELibTech) briefing paper (No. 3). June 2017.
Students in many countries, especially the US and UK are concerned that the growing cost of higher education is not delivering good value. Excellence in teaching and a focus on measurement and assessment of learning outcomes have become entrenched in higher education policy and the strategies of academic institutions. In the UK this trend has crystallised in a new Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) introduced by government in 2017.
As a result library leaders around the world will need to become more strategic in articulating value propositions based around a more holistic view of library/learning resources.The value of data analytics will be a key driving force. Data from reading list systems and digital textbook platforms combined with information from other institutional systems will allow powerful insights to emerge. Such analytics will be invaluable to institutions, publishers and intermediaries as they look at new ways to deliver content.
All this suggests a trend for library technology and educational technology to merge. There looks to be the beginning of shift away from a narrow conception of *library* systems, the *library* supply chain and *library data*. Conventional integrated library systems (ILS) and even the new generation of library services platforms (LSPs) remain wedded to an outdated view of library learning resources and will have to change significantly or be integrated or subsumed into a new generation of learning services platforms.
Rethinking the Library Services Platform Ken Chad HELibTech Briefing Paper January 2016
The second in the series of HELibTech briefing papers challenges the current definition of a library services platform (LSP) and suggests ways in which library systems might develop. While a new generation of library systems has emerged there remains a very significant lack of interoperability between the various components that make up the wider library technology ‘ecosystem’. So, although we talk of library services platforms, libraries and library system vendors have not yet fully realised a platform-based, interoperable library ecosystem. Cloud computing could help break this paradigm as it is doing with enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions. Gartner, an information technology market research and advisory firm, suggests that the ERP suite is being deconstructed into what they characterise as a ‘postmodern ERP.’ Gartner suggests that the result will be a more loosely coupled environment with much of the functionality sourced as Cloud services or via business process outsourcers. Will we see the same trend in library technology?
A more open library technology ecosystem, possibly making better use of open source components, would eliminate the restrictions of a closed and monolithic suite of services from a single vendor. Solutions are moving to the Cloud but aren’t yet really platforms. It is possible that such a platform-based ecosystem model will be the “next generation” in library automation. The promise for libraries is a more flexible and cost effective solution and for users a much improved user experience.
Library management system to library services platform Resource management for libraries: a new perspective, Ken Chad HELibTech Briefing Paper August 2015
This briefing paper contrasts the library resource management landscape now with the situation in 2008 when the Jisc/Sconul LMS study recommended that the time was not right for libraries to purchase a new library system. In the intervening period a new generation of 'library services platforms' (LSPs) has emerged and the pace of procurement has quickened. Ken analyses the current landscape and looks at the strategic issues around the changing nature of library collections, shared services, workflows and analytics. The paper is made available under a CC-0 license to enable easy re-use.
Library Systems Report 2017 Competing visions for technology, openness, and workflow. By Marshall Breeding. American Libraries | 1 May 2017
"The library technology industry has entered a new phase: business consolidation and technology innovation. Development of products and services to support the increasingly complex work of libraries remains in an ever-decreasing number of hands. Not only have technology-focused companies consolidated themselves, they have become subsumed within higher-level organizations with broad portfolios of diverse business activities. The survivors of this transformed industry now bear responsibility to deliver innovation from their amassed capacity. Modern web-based systems delivering traditional library automation and discovery capabilities are now merely table stakes. Real progress depends on building out these platforms to support the new areas of service emerging within each type of library."
Library Systems Report 2016 Power plays By Marshall Breeding American Libraries. May 2, 2016
From the article
"A new shape of the industry
Some of the most significant shifts of strength in the history of the industry took place in 2015, and a new set of dynamics emerged with important implications. Consolidation among top players occurred in both the library software and RFID sectors. Each recently acquired smaller companies to expand into additional product areas synergistic with business strategies or new international regions.
The transitions seen in 2015 were not lateral changes of ownership among investors but strategic acquisitions that concentrated power among a smaller number of much larger companies and reassembled product portfolios. Libraries may resist consolidation, but this could enable the development of technology products and services that are less fragmented and better able to support libraries as they provide access to increasingly complex collections.
A number of major business transitions transpired this year, and each significantly affected a corner of the industry."
Brighter outlook for tools in the cloud By Sharon Davies. Research Information 2 October 2015
From the article:
"the benefits of library tools in the cloud continue to be realised by research libraries, as the adoption of cloud-based systems continues to grow".
"Academic research libraries also understand the cloud-based systems better support management of the growing volume of electronic resources and can support researchers’ needs better".
"Cloud-based systems are lower cost for libraries, they are more easily and rapidly updated, and have a stronger support system across the world with multiple locations. Cloud-based systems also better meet the needs of modern researchers operating in an “anytime, anywhere and on any device” model.’"
"Talking about the perception of cloud-based technologies, Pace added: ‘An early adopter of OCLC’s WorldShare Management Services said “one of the main challenges is to overcome the illusion of control around managing library management system locally [as opposed to in the cloud]”.’"
Library Systems Report. Operationalizing innovation. By Marshall Breeding. American Libraries 1st 2015
From the report:
"Following a period of intensive development, a slate of new products that aims to align with current strategic priorities has entered a new phase of broader implementation. Index-based discovery services, available since 2009, have become vital components of academic library infrastructure and continue to see strong sales, including both first-time implementations and churn from competitors.
Library services platforms, in production use since 2011, have passed into the realm of routine offerings, especially for academic libraries in desperate need of systems that can manage both electronic and print resources
With broader acceptance of cloud technologies, more libraries are opting for software as a service (SaaS) deployments, especially when they have fewer technical resources to support local implementations.
We estimate the 2014 library technology economy, including the total domestic and international revenues of all companies with a significant presence in the US or Canada, at around $805 million. This is an increase of nearly 2% relative to last year’s estimate of $790 million. US revenues of these companies total around $495 million, while aggregate global revenues total in the $1.85 billion range. These figures include RFID and other self-service products in addition to the technologies related to library management and resource discovery."
Change will be relentless**
By Ken Chad. CILIP Update September 2012
If you are in the market for library systems, what should you be looking for? Needs vary across sectors: corporate, legal, public, school, college, and university – and circumstances differ between individual organisations. Nevertheless, there are enduring similarities between libraries and these are reflected in the market for library systems. The library management system – LMS (or, in US parlance, the integrated library system – ILS) remains the core system for many libraries. However, the weakness of the conventional LMS in terms of managing electronic resources means it is diminishing in importance.The article looks at the key technology themes influencing library system development.
"The library technology industry saw sharp competition in 2013, with a wide range of products vying to fulfill ever-rising expectations. To better position themselves for this critical period during which many libraries are considering options for their next phase of technology, a significant number of major vendors worked to extend their global reach, streamline internal organizations, and complete ambitious product developments. Competition has intensified for the applications used by library personnel to manage the collections and automate their operations, including the new generation of library services platforms as well as enhanced integrated library systems. Discovery services continue as a major area of activity, seen by libraries as especially critical given their intimate connections with customers, serving as one of the main delivery vehicles for access to collections and services"
Value of the market in 2013
From the article: "We estimate the 2013 library technology economy, including the total domestic and international revenues of all the companies with a significant presence in the US and Canada, at around $790 million, an increase of just more than 2% relative to last year’s estimate of $770 million. US revenues of these companies total around $485 million. We continue to estimate the global library technology industry aggregate revenues at around $1.8 billion, which would also include RFID and other self-service products in addition to the technologies related to library management and resource discovery. Within these broad industry figures, each experienced a varying range of increases or losses in revenue".