Content will now be wrapped in software – Digital Book World webinar notes

Digital Book World sponsored a webinar today, “Digital Content:  Where are publishers investing and what challenges will they need to overcome?

  • Speaker:  Marc Rubner, VP of Product Marketing at Innodata Consulting; mrubner at innodata dot com
  • Marc presented the results of an Innodata Survey conducted by Digital Book World in April of 2012.

What stuck with me the most was the phrase, “content will now be wrapped in software.” The overall tone of the webinar suggested that content will continue to be developed for direct to consumer consumption, in small packages, designed for mobile devices.  A couple of additional comments Marc made were that publishers need to repurpose content, repurpose technology, and take control of customer facing technologies.  He felt two big hurdles publishers need to cross with rights management were in global rights management and with libraries and the lending of eBooks. The following are my notes from the webinar.

The Online survey tool details –

  • 366 media execs, sample from DBW subscriber list, conducted April, 2012
  • 31% from adult trade (rest mix of other segments – children’s trade, academic, K-12 education, STM)
  • 54% from smallish organizations
  • 37% larger organizations
  • good mix of executives (29%)  and managers/directors (47%)

Some opening comments from Marc:  Next time you are on a plane, look at the number of iPads (double/triple what he has seen in the past).  The iPad is a disruptive technology.  It has disrupted the content consumption of consumers and professionals.  Content will now be wrapped in software.  By 2015, we will have over 300 million iPads (Gartner Report).

So, what are some future trends?:

  • Content aggregation – content creators of yesterday (i.e. newspapers) will start yielding audience reach to content aggregators
  • Platform wars to continue – price will matter, tablets over eReaders
  • Growing share of information content viewed is now on tablets and mobile devices – portability will drive tablet and mobile consumption. By end of next year more web viewing will be done on mobile devices than computers/laptops.

What are the challenges for publishers?:

  • customers want real time, always on, just for me (consumers are there own curators of information vis a via blogs, twitter, social sites, etc.
  • small packaging required
  • rapid time to market
  • content no longer “stand alone”
  • devices do not exist in isolation- we are using multiple devices to consume content throughout the day
  • platform and business model disruption
  • managing increasing volumes of analytical data (i.e. Big Data)
  • delivering similar experiences across platforms – not the same as saying the app should act exactly as it does on the webpage, it means the execution of quality must be the same; expectations must be met amongst devices

Marc quoted:  76% of media execs say launching new products/services will be the key driver of growth in next 3 – 5 years – Jordan Edmiston Survey.  Therefore, organizations are putting money in these areas – product development, new talent, new technologies


The survey determined 3 transformations demanded by rapid digital adoption

1. New Product Development – content is linked to software.  What they found was yes, new product development is being planned and funded and digital first is gaining momentum.

2. Incorporate software technology – can’t rely on content alone. What they found – not enough focus on technology, too few planning to invest in platforms and systems

3. Organize for continuous change – They found – most organizations struggle with internal digital content expertise, they will seek help from 3rd parties, many will hire 1 person to support digital products this year


Some specific survey questions/answers:

What do you plan to develop in the coming year?

  • multichannel digital content was the most popular response
  • paid digital content for tablets
  • digital first ebooks followed by short content (singles, etc.)  repurpose existing content to develop new products
  • less than 34% to develop paid digital content for web, mobile, tablets, multi-channel, etc. 42% were not developing any of these
  • over 50% were not going to develop any systems/platforms for digital content for any digital devices

Marc thinks the market realizes they must me more than tablet focused, but see the huge value in developing content/software just for the tablet.  However, he feels organizations are still focused on content.  They are on the path, moving forward, but, still confused on how to handle the technology part of things.  We need more education, more examining of the packaging content with software concept.

Do you plan to invest more money in paid digital content development in 2012? – over 80% plan to do this.  60% will spend more on technology to support paid digital content.

Where do you plan to invest this money?

  • mobile apps
  • XML content management
  • Content Management Systems
  • Digital Rights Management

What are the challenges to developing the paid content for digital devices?

  • financial resources topped the chart
  • defined process (process, workflow)
  • internal expertise
  • clarity on business model
  • strategic vision
  • relevant content

What are the challenges to developing platforms/systems/technology to support digital content?

  • financial resources topped again
  • internal expertise
  • defined process
  • strategic vision
  • relevant content

What about People (internal expertise)?

1/3 not hiring and some are scaling back. 41% will bring on 1 – 2 new people.  Organizations are being cautious about bringing on new people despite the recognition of the challenge of internal expertise.  This is developing a gap.  One survey comment said, “legacy employees with tenure who show little or no interest in non-print, in any form.”  How do you close the gap?  3rd party assistance perhaps? 60% will seek help from a 3rd party for digital content and 50% for systems/platforms/technologies

Marc feels there is still too much waiting around to see how the market unfolds and  for the “shakeout of industry standards.”  Marc found this type of information to be the most disappointing news of all from the survey.  “300 million people with iPads is not a fad, this is the future.”  He recommended that publishing organizations repurpose content, repurpose technology, and rely on 3rd party assistance.