What does digital transformation really mean for publishers?

We hear a great deal about ‘digital transformation’ in the publishing world but it’s hard to find a clear definition of what this actually means. It’s not as if the stress and volatility caused by technological adaptation will one day clear and a company can be certified as being digitally transformed.

What does digital transformation really mean for publishers?

Understanding what digital transformation really means for each individual publishing organization is crucial if efforts are going to be effective and connected to business goals.


What do senior leaders make of digital transformation?


As a survey of C-suite leaders confirmed, digital transformation is at once a ‘global, burning issue’ and something that means ‘many things to many different people.’ A white paper from Imbue Partners, commissioned by Copyright Clearance Center and Ixxus, details how the issue is viewed at the executive level.

Researchers spoke to 25 executives, asking about key priorities in digital transformation and how they felt their organizations had delivered against them. Five key areas of focus were identified: storage, content agility, discoverability, collaboration, and metadata, which was regarded as most important as well as most in need of improvement.


How do you define digital transformation?


The majority of survey respondents said that digital transformation is about a fundamental change in how business is conducted, rather than adopting a new channel or product type. This shift is closely identified with being able to respond to changing consumer demand, using digital technology to reduce costs and meet user expectations. The shift is part of a longer-term trend towards focusing on the customer rather than the product. Customers expect immediate and easy access to content at low or no cost, in many formats, and across multiple channels. Meeting this expectation – and staying profitable while doing so –  is the major challenge facing today’s publishers.


The slow pace of progress


Only 25% of the survey respondents felt that their organization’s transformation efforts were ahead of their industry peers; 50% said their initiatives were on par, and 25% felt they were lagging behind. Scientific, Technical and Medical (STM) organizations reported the most progress, with significant investments in 3 out of 5 transformational areas in the last few years. In contrast, 50% of education sector organizations and 30% of trade publishers felt that they were falling behind.

The good news is that publishers have woken up to the need to invest in digital transformation initiatives. More than 90% of the publishers said they intend to invest in metadata improvements in the next three years, with many planning to acquire and use appropriate new tools, platforms and services needed to drive progress.


Culture and tech working hand-in-hand


However, leaders likewise shared that that digital transformation is as much about thinking differently as about adopting new technologies or tools. For some executives, this human change was much more challenging than the technology, with underestimation of the work required to bring about cultural change identified as one of the top pitfalls of digital transformation.

Finally, survey respondents provided sage advice for others on the digital transformation journey. They recommended asking detailed questions about and critically evaluating underlying business assumptions to avoid blindly perpetuating legacy decisions, as well as actively learning from mistakes – both your own and those of peers. They also recommended starting with ‘off the shelf’ solutions before diving headlong into customized systems.

Date Published : 07th of March 2018

Steffanie Ness

Published by : Steffanie Ness

About the Author : Steffanie Ness is the Regional Vice President Sales at Ixxus. A subsidiary of Copyright Clearance Center (CCC), Ixxus is a data systems integration and knowledge engineering solutions company. Steffanie began her career at PriceWaterhouseCoppers and has 20 years in multiple business roles within technology and publishing industries. Specializing in content-centric systems and processing, Steffanie helps organizations reinvent how they leverage their content to drive revenue and enhance market agility.