With the publishing business environment now changing at warp speed, publishers must adapt to survive and embrace all forms of content delivery and all media. Each and every publisher facing the reality of the internet must meet and greet users wherever, whenever, and with whatever content the user requires. On April 14, the BBC Monitoring service (www.monitor.bbc.co.uk) and Publishing Technology, PLC (PT; www.publishingtechnology.com) announced the launch of a new digital publishing package created for the BBC Monitoring Library, the well-known global news resource. This is the first time the newly created Publishing Technology has utilized all three of its publisher solutions. Its newly merged VISTA and Ingenta services now form the core for PT software, providing support for both online and back office publishing applications, subscription and license management, and its Publishers Communication Group (PCG) division for sales and marketing support.
Offering new functionality, including IP-authenticated access control, management of subscriber relationships, social bookmarking, and usage statistics, the new service should help BBC Monitoring to more effectively serve both new and existing academic and institutional clients directly.
Rosy Wolfe, head of business development and customer relations at BBC Monitoring, extolled the value of having a single-solution provider for all the BBC’s digital deliverables. "We needed a sophisticated, intuitive product to help us compete effectively in new markets. This has been an ambitious project, so we have welcomed the Publishing Technology team’s enthusiasm and expertise. Working with a single partner has also obviated many of the headaches associated with managing such a complex project, enabling us to focus more clearly on its strategic objectives."
Randy Petway, vice president of strategic business development, Publishing Technology, reinforced the added value that the convergence of all three of these business areas brings to the publishing community, stating, "The opportunity with BBC—and now having executed it—validated the thought process behind creating Publishing Technology in the first place. What it really comes down to is the idea that there are publishers and information service companies that have the need to address the end-to-end realities of delivering content online, need to manage the back office processes associated with putting content online, and also need to sell and market that content."
So is this just another publisher web platform application? Or is this type of soup-to-nuts solution the internet Holy Grail every 21st-century print publisher has been jousting for since the birth of the World Wide Web? Certainly there are publishers that need this end-to-end representation, but are there certain types of publishers more likely to adopt this type of service offering than others, e.g., large versus small or scholarly versus trade?
Petway indicated that there is no clear trend. Instead, he thought it often depends on where a publisher is in its online life cycle. "Smaller publishers may be 95% of the way to a full service online offering and ask for Publishing Technology to deliver the missing 5%, while large publishers may have only created 5% of what is needed and request external support for the remaining 95%. There is definitely a need for this type of service in the marketplace. A number of publishers have approached Publishing Technology for similar services. One of the things that we have been saying for some time is that Publishers need to focus on their core competencies, and technology is not one of these."
Agile publishing and media-neutral publishing must become the mantra for every publisher hoping to succeed in this new world order. Marc Strohlein, chief agility officer at Outsell, Inc. (www.outsellinc.com), defined agile publishing in the March 18, 2005, Outsell HotTopics report. "Agile Publishing and the New Breed of Publishers" is characterized by a nimble mind-set that sees products as modular and flexible, by a focus on fast and efficient processes that trades "product completeness" for time to market, and by layers of technology that enable format and media-independent content to be stored and easily repurposed.
When asked what has changed since this report was released, Strohlein commented, "Three years ago, agile publishing was not yet at the top of the mind for many publishing entities. Publishers, although interested in the idea of agile publishing methods, were not yet adopting new technologies and platforms en masse. Solutions providers were struggling to promote the XML and platform messages. Now, these same technology companies are experiencing significant growth and gaining traction in what is becoming a significant strategic direction for many publishers."
Although no single company competes on all three levels with PT, its main competitors in the platform and systems area include Atypon Systems, Inc., Akamai, EMC Documentum, VeriSign, and Wipro Technologies. Other companies, like Mark Logic, provide complimentary services and are often used in conjunction with PT products. Mark Logic, in particular, differs somewhat from PT as it doesn’t provide end-to-end publishing solutions but more of a platform for developing publishing solutions. Each of these entities provides similar solutions but not any single solution with all the bells and whistles now part of the PT and PCG suite of services.
Petway also indicated that over the next 2 to 4 weeks, PT will be announcing a number of other publishers who have selected its solutions to take advantage of the delivery platform, plus two other publishers serving niche markets that will be adopting the full-service solution.