Sometimes it can be easy to forget just how broad the term "publishers" can be, but attending the MarkLogic Digital Publishing Summit 2010 on October 28 was a great reminder. Publishers come in all shapes and sizes: From book publishers to legal publishers to app builders, publishing is a diverse, if sometimes floundering, industry.
Kicked off by editor-in-chief of Wired, Chris Anderson, with "The First Six Months of the Future of Media" the Digital Publishing Summit drew - at times - a standing-room only crowd at the Plaza Hotel's Grand Ballroom. Anderson discussed the difference between designing a magazine (digital or print) and a website - talking about the constraints of a typical browser-based experience. Using Wired's ad-supported site as an example he said, "This is the model that trained a generation to ignore the top and sides." The inability to "control the experience" on the web, as Anderson put it, leads to less user engagement. Wired readers, he pointed out, spend about an hour with the print magazine, slightly less than that on the iPhone, and about 100 minutes on the iPad. Web users are in and out in about three minutes. In many ways, these stats supported Anderson's theory that the web is dead in terms of "the market for commercial content." Apps and experience are the way of the future, and that set the tone for the rest of the day.
To further illustrate the point, Xplana presented "Creating and Deploying Disruptive Technology Within Higher Education" after lunch. Xplana.com is a free platform where students can upload and create study materials-notes, class content, group projects-and organize them by course, book, or personal tags. Xplana also incorporates free resources. Dr. Rob Reynolds, director of product design and research at Xplana, says, "We know that social is important and with educational content it's fundamental."
Xplana can be integrated with other social tools like Facebook and Twitter, and accessed through mobile devices. Dennis Flanagan, CEO of MBS Direct, says the majority of students consume e-learning materials via smartphone. With publishers driving 25% of their revenue from services as opposed to content, according to Flanagan, focusing on creating tools and experiences is the wave of the future.
Before leading a panel for the final session of the day, David Worlock, co-chair of Outsell Leadership Programs, spoke about "rebuilding Your Business from the Inside Out" and the "dominance of the workflow concept." Interestingly, the speakers on the "Media Panel" agreed with Worlock about the importance of workflow when it comes to reigniting growth.
"It's not about the device, it's about the customer," according to panelist Ken Brooks, SVP, Global Production and Manufacturing Services at Cengage learning. Fellow panelist David Aldea, digital transformation specialist at McGraw-Hill Information and Media, seemed to agree. "It's about making sure your content is ready to deliver," he said.
Despite the diversity of speakers, attendees certainly walked away with the idea that while content has, in the past, been king, creating an experience around that content is becoming more important than ever. Whether it's a new app or a personalized learning environment, many publishers are setting themselves apart by delivering content in new and innovative ways.