Up until this year, this conference was jointly sponsored by Information Todayand Outsell. Outsell pulled out this year, I believe because they’re having their own conference called Go! in September. I was concerned that without Outsell the program and attendees might be a little thinner, but that was not the case. This was the best program in the four years I’ve attended.

The highlight of the conference was a panel consisting of David Mandelbrot, VP of Search Content for Yahoo!; Will Holmes, Manager of Business Development for the Microsoft Office team; and Patrick Spain, CEO of Highbeam Research.

Yahoo’s focus is to compete with Google and leverage (monetize) the millions of registered users they already have. Highbeam has a low-cost ($5.00 per month) subscription model, which they believe they can succeed with by providing “pretty good” answers to consumers’ questions. Microsoft believes they enhance the user’s experience by making premium content Pane (LexisNexis, Factiva, Highbeam and others) accessible directly from Office applications through what they call a Research Pane. There was little if any talk of Microsoft playing catch-up in the search arena.

Although I thought this panel was terrific from an intellectual standpoint, there was little said about the market for knowledge workers or improvements in search or content that information professionals could expect to see from either Yahoo!, Microsoft or Highbeam. More later.