In the Rush to Digital…take 10
Put Technology Aside to Get Focus
by David McKnight, Principal
Technology is creating amazing new ways to get content to the eyes of readers. This explosion of content online is also being fueled by the growth in eBooks delivered on iPad and tablets… and even phones are reasonable devices to consume many types of content.
Combine this with the power to inform fueled by social media. Every organization is faced with the challenge and opportunity to think like a publisher. Let’s face it, technology is making that possible like never before.
First two definitions helpful to reading this post:
- Reader = anyone reading content in any form – may also go by the name – member, audience, subscriber, client, customer, attendee, you get it.
- Publisher = any one or organization that collects and shares content – may also go by the name – association, publisher, non-profit, corporation, or just you.
We are beyond, or should be, the print vs digital debate… all content is now in a digital state – and workflows are digital – it’s just distribution and reader preferences determining the output. Print for many of us will be a way to consume content. We can and should have it both ways when readers value it. Making that realization is what impacts huge change in the way we publish. Digital first – output later. It is a digital publishing world.
As a consultant working with so many great solutions and seeing clients need for innovative ePublishing Solutions, it’s very easy to jump to SOLUTIONS. For these that are overwhelmed by the pace of change there is good news. Most of the innovations we’ll see in publishing are a series of small but important changes. Thousands of them, millions. So the key is to tap into your creativity and innovate…one step at a time.
I share an urgency to make changes and take action now. But to understand YOUR Path, before the dreaming and visioning start, I suggest to my clients to focus on four areas:
Innovation in digital publishing can and should occur in all areas.
Here are some ideas and thoughts, they are by no means a compressive gathering of all digital publishing innovation ideas.
It is easy to either get excited and/or overwhelmed by the changes and opportunities technology can have that sometimes the needs, wants and wishes of people get overlooked. Understand the impact on these three “stakeholders”
- Your Team (staff) – capacity and capability – for many mature organizations who have a great history in creating printed publications I have wonderful news. Creating a professional well-designed print publication is more “technical” than any eBook. Hundreds of more details to worry about. The key to moving from a ‘Print” centric workflow to digital… just to embrace change. We’ll talk about that more later but the learning here is to invest in developing skills and help clearly define the outputs and goals so our “print” experts have a clear target. Then watch them innovate.
- Authors - Curation – Technology is making it easier than ever to “get published”. But easy doesn’t always mean good quality. Social Media is a great tool to share but if you don’t have something relevant to say… stop talking!. There is opportunity here for publishers to build community, to give more minds a voice and add to the conversation.
- The Reader – understand what value you can bring to them. Innovation starts with understanding your reader and delivering creative solutions that bring new value or solve problems. It seems basic but make sure you can clearly connect how your “solution” brings value to readers.
For many organizations content is core to their organization. A focus on content can help bring an organization together instead of operating in silos. How can we collectively use our content resources to achieve the goals of our organizations? Treat it like any asset, nurture it to improve quantity and quality, and look for ways to differentiate the way you collect, process and share content.
- Take an inventory of your content. Identify the key attributes. Who owns it, what is it’s purpose, can it be broken down into smaller pieces, who values it.
- Create a Content Strategy – How does content drive your mission forward, what objectives can it impact and what are the tactics your team needs to use to achieve this.
- Create a unified vision of your content and identify relationships. Successful organizations will break away from current fragmented content silos to a unified view, yet feed and direct readers to the relevant products and services that organization provides.
Creating a content workflow and process can bring tremendous value and cost savings to your organizations. Some publishers that create a large amount of content from many different authors can see significant savings from professional content management workflow solutions. For others that may be too much for now, but establishing a common process your organization will improve quantity and reduce costs. Your target in doing so is… speed, flexibility and quality.
- Speed to Market – we live in a “now” society and the greatest value in content may be determined by how fast you can deliver it to your readers. This does not trump quality, both worth together, but make sure you understand how speed and value relate to drive your content strategy. Speed can, and usually is, a function of pricing.
- Create a workflow flexibility to meet your Distribution needs - Next only to speed the fact that people want to consume content the way they want to. So, make sure you build your content workflow process flexible enough to cost effectively and quickly output what you need to meet reader demands.
- Quality – There is quality in the content itself and quality in the way content is collected and processed (converted at times) that can have huge impacts on your readers experience. When working with a conversion company keep the quality of the conversion number one – saving a few dollars at this stage can undo much of the rest of your digital publishing innovation efforts.
This tends to be where most people focus their thinking when the topic of digital publishing comes up. eBooks, online, Amazon, ePub3, XML, HTML5, eCommerce, Learning Management, Content Management Systems – I’ve just scratched the surface to the terms and solutions available.
Books are written on this topic but I suggest for this post you focus on value creation. And by value creation I do mean the value to the reader offset by your cost to provide that content in the forms they value it. No lost leaders here… those “freemium” models only get you so far.
- Monetized Value – we all get this – content you can sell or include as a membership or subscription. It’s tangible, timely, high quality, and in the formats (digital or print) that people want and/or need.
- Discover Value (in marketing terms – lead generation)– this is content that still has some value, may be too small to directly monetize, but can be very valuable to helping readers to “discover” your organization. Google has impacted all of us and while Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has had a huge impact on being discovered. Content itself, and lots of it, can bring huge dividends to helping your organization reach out beyond your current community.
- Managed Risk – You can manage risk if you don’t first understand value. In my view value is still the formula (Value = Value Received – Cost To Provide). For most digital publishing innovations a ROI (Return on Idea) should be a year or less. In some rare cases maybe two years.
With all this said my final bit of advise it that your digital publishing innovation efforts should be more about action and doing, than meetings and planning. The initial Strategy is key to get the right focus and your team aligned… but keep those efforts at a 10% Planning and 90% doing.
One of the biggest challenge I see in the market right now are Publishers struggling to identify solutions and Vendors/Solution Providers struggling to understand the needs of the Publisher. The results are misaligned solutions and poor or very long implementations. No one wins here. I feel focusing on the above will help you create clear Requests for Proposals (RFQ) and Vendors to better price and perform.
So tell us, does a Content Strategy fall into your Strategic planning process? How does your organization establish way to maximize the value of your content?
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