Galley Club - Digital transformation in the Publishing Industry: Brave New World

So why are we still talking about Digital Transformation? Last night at the Galley Club, Roger Christiansen gave us a very good reason to be talking about it with an excellent account of e-business transformations and what this means for publishers today.

Digital transformation in the form of the dot com boom saw a major shift in our economy as we changed the way we shopped, socialised and discovered information. We are now in Digital Transformation Wave II in which technology has vastly improved and become more accessible to consumers and businesses alike and has seen another shift in our economy – to the Gig Economy. New businesses like Uber and Deliveroo have come onto the scene offering ‘gigs’ rather than employment to people as consumers want services at the click of the button. We may see yet another change in this economy as regulations change following recent public budget announcements.

For the publishing industry, the digital transformation has seen the birth of the eBook and many feared that this would disrupt the industry to the point of replacing traditional print books. However, current data shows a plateau in eBook sales as they have found their place in the ecosystem of our personal libraries and live alongside print books. We now need to recognise eBooks not as a threat but an opportunity for us; they allow us to reach new audiences and give us another product that we can sell in our portfolio of offerings to readers.

It’s very easy to stop the conversation at eBooks when it comes to digital transformation but as Christiansen reminded us, there is a lot more to it for publishers. Digital technology has changed not only the products we are able to create but also the processes in creating them. Print on demand technology means that we do not need to pay for so much storage for stock, we don’t need so much guess work for print run volumes and we can still create high quality products for our readers. Print to order, which involves the actual delivery to the reader as well, gives a full end-to-end service to readers which is enabled by the latest printing technology.

As digital technology continues to change our processes and our products, we must be ready change with it and be ready to upskill ourselves and our teams to stay ahead. From developing the technology, integrating it into our systems, managing it right to understanding what our readers want from us, it’s the people behind the products and processes that make it a successful second wave of change.

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