Business consolidation has entirely transformed the library technology industry over the last two decades. One aspect of this trend can be seen in the mergers and acquisitions among companies with similar business profiles. This consolidation of direct competitors can be thought of as horizontal consolidation, which has the impact of narrowing the number of companies operating within a given product area. This horizontal consolidation has produced companies such as SirsiDynix, which carries forward previous organizations including Sirsi Corporation, Dynix, DRA, NOTIS, MultiLIS, and others. The acquisitions of diverse companies spanning distinct product areas within an industry can have an even greater transformative impact on an industry. The 2015 acquisition of Ex Libris by ProQuest exemplifies the vertical consolidation, which extends a company's reach into many distinct product areas. Companies pursue vertical consolidation to exploit synergies that may be possible in areas of overlapping functionality, data, or marketing opportunities.
Vertical consolidation in the library services arena centers on the convergence of content and technologies. Organizations rooted in content have been increasingly investing in technology products and platforms supporting behind-the-scenes workflows of libraries and other organizations managing information resources and patron-facing services providing access. While libraries will not likely tolerate a corporate portfolio of products that result in coercion to license content from the provider of resource management or discovery products or vice versa, we increasingly see some companies as increasingly interested in gaining insight and influence into the broader ecosystem of procurement, management, and access of information resources. Companies tapping into those synergies will need to tread carefully to avoid any tripwires that will trigger adverse reactions by the libraries and other organizations upon which they depend as customers.
Smart Libraries Newsletter has previously covered ProQuest, Follett Corporation, and EBSCO as examples of the vertical consolidation that has reshaped the library technology industry. We have also covered the institutional repository sector, including events related to the DuraSpace non-profit organization and the products they steward, DSpace and Fedora. In this issue, we turn attention to Elsevier's acquisition of bepress as an example of the vertical consolidation of the scholarly communications sector. Incrementally departing from its roots as a publisher dependent on library subscriptions, Elsevier has made a number of business moves that extend its involvement into a broad swath of activities in the research and scholarly communications arena. Not only is the company working to navigate the increasing demands for open access publishing, but it is also seeking business opportunities in analytics, community networks for researchers, and now institutional repositories.