Setting Your Destination

4 routes to digital transformation

On reading the Imbue white paper, it struck me again how difficult it is to give a concise, yet all-encompassing, answer to where the publishing industry is headed. All the interviewees seem to be pulling in the same direction and support a consistent thread to “improve customer responsiveness” and “business operations”. Rightly also, the report outlined that  ”digital transformation is a non-linear journey, not a destination”. But if transformation is “an act of travelling from one place to another” (OED) wouldn’t it be advantageous to be able to articulate what the destination looks or feels like?   

It may be tempting to conclude that by addressing the five areas discussed in the paper (metadata, storage, content agility, discoverability & collaboration) your organisation will have completed their transformation. Of course, it is right to address each of these areas but without considering how any of these changes will “maximize future freedom of action” (Alex Wissner-Gross) and how agility will be maintained would be remiss – especially when many of these stages can involve substantial resources and significant time.   

No doubt, content agility is critical to the ongoing success of a publishing organisation. With rich metadata decorating your granular content, new products can be assembled with greater ease and the true value of the content can be realised through greater discoverability and reuse. This agility, or adaptability, of content can vastly reduce the time to react to new customer demands by, for example, automatically surfacing more meaningful content; increasing content value and customer stickiness. Those publishers that have achieved this tight coupling of agile content to customer needs are already expanding in new directions; new products, new markets, unexpected partnerships and fresh revenue streams.  

However, this would miss a fundamental need to be constantly flexible and adaptable both with your content and  your organisation.  



Investment in adaptable publishing workflows, and enrichment tools that ease downstream consumption is important but if an organisation is not agile enough to adopt these tools, or the new outputs from them, the investment can go to waste. For new and nimble start-ups, this is neither news, nor a difficult process since it is in their very DNA to adapt. However, for publishing veterans who have legacy systems, the baggage of back catalogues and glacial processes the barriers to change can be crippling.  

To improve the impact of your digital transformation journey, a seam of change leadership, that is aligned with an adaptable corporate strategy, must be infused into the programme of work. This will ensure that you are considerate to the impact of change to your people, process, profit, portfolio and platform whilst focusing on continuous business benefits and organisation evolution.   

The focus and balance of these interdependent facets of agility are therefore where publishers should set the destination for their digital transformation journey. A state where content can easily adapt to future needs alongside an organisation that can quickly and constantly change course to support new ways of working. 

Date Published : 13th of April 2017

Robert Gaggin

Published by : Robert Gaggin

About the Author : Robert Gaggin is Copyright Clearance Center’s (CCC) – parent company of Ixxus – product marketing manager for Ixxus solutions. He has previously held marketing and editorial positions at Pearson, Cengage, and CISION.