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Thoughts on Technology Trends in Publishing

We are seeing the slow transition away from paper based records to electronic records at an accelerating pace and reaching lower into small and medium business (SMB) market (small law firms, health care, etc). Economic conditions are helping drive this as businesses seek increased efficiency for labour cost savings and to better support increasing mobile workforces.

This is not “paperless”, but when a business goes electronic as the principal medium of record there is a big jump into automation and all the workflows change. Applicable technology services would include internal automation, the creation of active content web sites and implementation assistance with networks and applications which support this transition. This also drives an increased focus on best practices in access/security, backup and disaster recovery processes to protect these electronic records.

This indirectly impacts publishers in their choices of production mediums. We forecast shrinking demand for all manners of paper publications in preference for electronic and searchable mediums. The earlier predictions for this shift were premature, but now the change is taking hold despite copyright concerns.

When looking at publishing choices, careful market segmentation should occur between traditional printing, print on demand and e-book publishing, with a skew towards electronic forms. As an example, the success of the Amazon Kindle is helping popularise e-book publishing. E-book readers have been around for some time, but form factor, convenience, cost, and available titles were limited. Now a huge buzz is helping, and the Kindle DX seeks to challenge new markets in technical documentation, school books and other markets which are worth billions. Apple’s iPad is positioned to compete in this growing market.

Marketing is also shifting quickly. Google/Bing/Yahoo, SEO, Craigslist, Twitter, Face Book, YouTube and others are increasing in importance and displacing traditional media channels such as newspapers, classified and yellow page ads. Associations (such as WSTA) have helped to drive the awareness of this shift, and the change has already reached critical mass. Consultants can help clients deeply integrate and leverage new technologies, with each effort being tailored to the client’s market and requiring significant buy-in. The rewards are worth it.

Keen awareness of the larger trends affecting publishers and other information providers can be an invaluable asset when helping clients embrace new technologies and marketing channels as the technology landscape shifts quickly.

Doña Keating is President and CEO of Professional Options (www.professionaloptions.org), a prominent innovator in the policy and consulting industry which creates solutions for businesses, organizations and governmental agencies. She is also a principal in K2 Strategic Solutions (www.k2strategic.com), a new partnership between Professional Options and Keating Consulting Service which provides technology and management consulting.

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