Publishers 'lagging' on digital transformation - Ixxus report

Jasmin Kirkbride
News - Publishing Thursday, 16th March 2017

Shifts in culture required

Twenty-five per cent of publishers felt that they were "lagging" behind industry peers in the process of digital transformation, an Ixxus whitepaper launched at the London Book Fair yesterday suggested.

Ixxus commissioned the study, conducted by Imbue Partnerships, with its parent company the Copyright Clearance Center (CCC). Though the 25 leading UK and US STM and trade publishers who undertook the survey agreed that digitisation was critical to business growth, they also experienced "confusion and frustration at the complexity of the journey".

"Publishing is a legacy industry that is suddenly facing an overwhelming demand for change that will uproot not only its products, but its people, processes and business models," said Tracey Armstrong, ceo at CCC. "This research gives us a deeper understanding of the challenges - real and perceived - publishers face as they seek to transform."

Shifts in "organisational culture" were needed, with publishers tending to overestimate their content storage abilities, investing but failing to organise sufficiently around metadata, and describing their current automated collaboration capacities as "fragmented," "inconsistent" and "limited".

Carl Robinson, principal consultant at Ixxus, pointed out during Monday's Quantum Conference that a deeper understanding was required of the difference between between digitisation (digital conversion of a book) and digitalisation (using technology to change business models), with a focus on the latter.

David Worlock, co-chair of executive programs at Outsell, said at yesterday's launch panel: "Publishers would like to think digital transformation was quick and easy, that we could keep the parts of the system they like." But it was a continuing challenge, not a quick fix.

"The good news is that the desire for change is permeating publishing from the top down," Armstrong concluded. "We expect increases in investments and shifts in organisational culture to drive digital transformation forward."

The full study is available to download from the Ixxus website.

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