Publishers are shaping their operations for a future increasingly based on digital content but many, particularly smaller, independent publishers, have questions about how to adopt the systems and technology to support that goal. At a breakfast briefing at the Professional Publishers Association in London on November 27, WoodWing and Evolved Media looked to find some answers.
Whether big or small, consumer or business-to-business, publishers of all shapes and sizes face similar challenges when it comes to managing digital transformation.
Business models and operational structures, once rooted in a world dominated exclusively by print, are now constantly being adapted to fit with an evolving, digitally-driven media landscape. Engaging and building audiences through quality content remains at the heart of publishers’ aims but companies in the sector are being challenged to do this across an expanding range of platforms at a time when there remains continued pressure on traditional revenue streams.
In looking to position themselves for a more flexible future, publishers recognize the importance of updating their practices and adopting workflow systems and processes that will support the delivery of content in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
For smaller, independent publishers, who can be limited in terms of the time, skills and funding available to them, this challenge can be particularly acute. And in order to put the theory of multi-channel publishing into action, they are looking to understand how to ensure their investments are not only fully justified but also planned, implemented and managed in a way that delivers maximum benefit and minimum disruption for both the company and the employees involved.
Understandably, the first of several questions can often be ‘where do I start?’ In order to begin to uncover some answers, WoodWing and Evolved Media hosted a breakfast briefing on November 27 in partnership with the Professional Publishers Association, the industry body for consumer magazine and business media companies in the UK.
Finding the best approach
Led by Russell Pierpoint, Founder and MD of Evolved Media, the roundtable event brought together publishers and production experts to explore how best to approach implementing and embedding a multi-platform publishing workflow from the perspective of a smaller, independent publisher.
Maarten Reinders, Chief Commercial Officer of WoodWing, gave the assembled audience a global view of how publishers are tackling this challenge. Attendees also heard from Julian Adams, IT Director at Immediate Media, who explained how the company, which owns digital-only brands such as Hitched as well as iconic publishing brands such as Radio Times, is moving to a cloud-based digital production workflow using WoodWing’s Elvis Digital Asset Management (DAM) system and Enterprise Aurora for content creation.
Navigating the 7 Cs
The open conversation that followed provided the opportunity for attendees to learn about, and also share their own experiences of, managing digital assets and implementing digital workflow solutions. The discussion covered many points, including seven key areas for consideration:
Julian underlined the importance of getting control over potentially disparate assets and data, introducing structured content and standard naming conventions in order to avoid duplication and enhance productivity. Artificial intelligence, for example, is already incorporated within Elvis DAM to accelerate the selection of relevant imagery, and the open API integration with services from the likes of Amazon Web Services (AWS), opens the potential for further levels of automation.
Smaller publishers are challenged by the capacity of the resource available to them, in terms of both people and skillsets. Implemented properly and customized to the needs of the specific publisher in question, digital asset management and workflow systems help accelerate tasks and enhance productivity – a case of working smarter, not harder.
It is important to fully understand the potential benefits technology can bring – both short and long-term. Any investment should consider productivity gains of staff and also the competitive benefits of faster content creation and distribution, which can, in turn, ease pressures elsewhere in the chain of production, potentially leading to a reduction in the number of licenses required for other programs.
It’s important to manage any change with sensitivity. Teams and established employees, in particular, can be resistant to new ways of working so it’s important to consider the context of the situation and existing working practices and to ensure the benefits of new technology are conveyed, understood and utilized to their full potential following implementation of the system.
Moving operations from a file server into the Cloud is an increasingly-accepted trend many publishers are looking to follow. The Cloud enables geographically dispersed teams and freelancers to co-ordinate working activities through a browser interface without the need for a VPN or concerns over device compatibility, and operations can be established and scaled rapidly, without generating demand for additional in-house IT support. The cloud also represents an opportunity to manage corporate IT functions, such as email, freeing internal IT resource to focus on supporting the publishing function within the business.
Many independent publishers are still in the relatively early stages of digital transformation and so there remains an early-adopter advantage for those putting more efficient, productive processes in place and setting their businesses up for a multi-channel future. And while they might lack scale and depth of resources, they compensate in terms of agility and coherence, making it possible to manage change closely across the whole organization.
With assets tightly controlled, an efficient workflow and focused tools such as Enterprise Aurora, the editorial team can concentrate on content creation, whether they are in the office or offsite. The digitally-literate incoming generation of journalists and editors often have knowledge of production techniques and so it’s about providing them with the right platform to perform.
Of all the areas to consider, managing cultural change is arguably the most important to the success of any technology implementation. This is something, Julian explained, that has been a key part of the Immediate Media IT team’s thinking as they progress on their digital workflow journey: “Half the battle of this project is how do we bring the teams along with us? We have to get them involved and really sell the benefits and show them how it can improve their lives.”
For more information or to discuss how asset management and digital production workflow can benefit your publishing business, get in touch.