Jon Tilbury

Jon Tilbury

Last updated on 9 October 2019

Jon Tilbury is CTO of Preservica

The Digital Preservation domain has always placed a strong emphasis on building communities to share experiences and develop solutions. These communities are often built on geographic, product or functional alignment or created through external grant funded research activities.

At the recent iPres conference in Amsterdam myself, Euan Cochrane from Yale University and Remke Verdegem from the Nationaal Archief presented a paper exploring how the user groups associated with commercial digital preservation products collaborate with other communities and the role they play in advancing digital preservation best practice.

The session provided insights into the evolution of user groups, using the Preservica user group as an example, and sparked a lot of great discussion amongst the community afterward - so I wanted to share a few of the main highlights here:


An exploration of research into product user groups reveals that the primary motivation of users to participate in user groups of this nature is to understand and influence the product roadmap.

Where this is not possible, for example where the user group is a small regional group for a global platform such as SharePoint, the motivation shift to learning about the product, building personal networks and meeting potential service providers.

Vendors too need a motivation to contribute to or fund the user group. The principle of these is to create a positive user relationship so that users, for example, are comfortable providing reference calls or supporting initiatives to build the overall user base. Also, it is important for vendors to understand their customers to enable them to sell more to similar organisations.

Research in the Digital Preservation sphere shows these motivations hold true in our world. The main difference is a much higher willingness of customers to share their own findings and experiences with other organisations.

The Preservica experience

The Preservica user group was first set up in 2008 and after a period of being held at customer sites across Europe has established its current home in Oxford. Since 2014 there has also been a US User Group attached to a large conference such as The Society of American Archivists. Both meetings have evolved over the years to reflect the user base and the nature of the product but are both now similar in what they offer users. In 2019 both attracted about 100 attendees.

The most important sessions are, as research predicts, around the product roadmap. The Preservica team present the current roadmap covering the next 6-12 months compared to what was requested in the past. Users are then asked for their ideas for the future and voting is organised to identify the most popular. This is followed up with a webinar to discuss what has made the list.US User Group in Austin TX

Preservica North America User Group Meeting, Austin, TX August 2019

Experience sharing is also an important part of the event. Users share their stories in formal presentations and also workshops. We shouldn’t forget of course the chance to make personal contacts and to share information in the breaks and social events that also take place.

In the last two years we have invited partners to present on how they compliment the Preservica software offering with compatible products and services. This has resulted in some useful projects being kicked off that allow Preservica to interact with the wider IT environment.

There is also a chance for Preservica and sometimes external speakers to present on longer term topics. Recent examples include the use of blockchain, AI and the potential offered by the Preservation Action Registries initiative.

Alongside the formal user groups sessions, regional groups have evolved and are operated directly by users. Examples include a New England group and one in Benelux, and both provide a popular adjunct to the larger gatherings.

Evolving into the future

From a Preservica perspective our users are now also beginning to help shape the future of how the user group functions and have identified a number of helpful improvements. For example, we have arranged for more user involvement in the organisation of the events with a user panel providing guidance to the Preservica organisers. In addition, we are allowing online participation, including online voting, for those organisations who find it difficult to travel to the events in person.

Looking outside the group we are inviting more external attendees and encouraging outreach. DPC’s William Kilbride and TNA’s John Sheridan have given well received talks and DPC’s Jenny Mitcham attended this year’s Oxford group and participated in a panel session on “Digital Preservation 2030”. We expect this trend to continue and grow in future years, using the Preservation Action Registries initiative as a vehicle for external collaboration with the wider Digital Preservation community.

UK User Group in Oxford UK

Preservica Global User Group Meeting, Oxford, UK,  April 2019

The Preservica User Group has proved a popular and useful community for users of the product and is increasingly acting as a bridge to the whole community. We firmly encourage this and look forward to many more successful meetings.

For more information the paper can be found here


#1 Jenny Mitcham 2019-10-09 09:03
It was good to be a part of the 2019 Preservica user group meeting and to find out more about this community and the priorities and challenges going forward. Many of these challenges of course are shared across the wider digital preservation community. The DPC are really happy to engage with all our Supporters in this way!

Scroll to top