Publishing / 8 min read

Is digital transformation a necessity?

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By Graham / November 12, 2019

Five key insights into digital transformation in the publishing industry

recent survey conducted by Copyright Clearance Centre (CCC) and Ixxus revealed that although publishers are aware that the industry is going through a digital transformation, there is fear and concern on how to effectively embrace this journey.

The in-depth study found in the publishing industry that 25 percent of publishers see themselves as “lagging” versus the rest of the industry in their current digital transformation efforts, while only 25 percent feel they are “leading.”

Digital transformation in the publishing industry is happening

The research paper quotes, “Publishing is a legacy industry that is suddenly facing an overwhelming demand for change that will uproot not only its products, but its people, processes and business models.” 

Fifty percent of publishers interviewed are looking for ways to replace declining revenues from print
and advertising, with 41 percent looking to develop new product options.

Publishers unanimously agree that digitisation is critical to business growth but are experiencing confusion and frustration at the complexity of the journey.

Key findings

The research paper was based on in-depth interviews of 25 leading U.S. and U.K. publishers in education; scientific, technical and medical (STM); and trade.

Gartner estimates that by 2020, 75 percent of businesses will be digital, or have digital business transformations underway. However, only 30 percent of those efforts will be successful, owing in part to a lack of specialised talent and technical expertise.

The winners that emerge from this heightened period of digital disruption will be those organisations that have planned carefully and have adopted a digital business model.

The following are takeaways from the survey:

The survey’s conclusion was unanimous – digitisation is critical to business growth.

Publishing executives in the survey were asked to score their current capabilities and planned future investments in five main elements of digital transformation.

Declining revenues from print and advertising need to be adressed

Five main elements

Despite various challenges such as inconsistent standards, cultural change and evolving technologies, publishers are being “forced to embrace digitisation”. The survey suggests five main elements of digital transformation:


Amongst the surveyed leading publishers, metadata appeared to be a main priority. Although a priority, there was perceived to be a large gap between needs and actual organisational ability, 90% of publishers say that they are willing to invest in metadata.


Another highly prioritised element is discoverability, helping end users discover content.

In comparison to metadata, publishers felt more confident about their investments in platforms, widgets and partner services that help their content be found – with 30% of publishers actively reviewing new tools for discoverability of new content.

Content agility

Content agility is considered to be the most meaningful element in digital transformation to education publishers. The focus is on personalised and targeted content that is delivered whilst offering predictive analytics to publishers.

Page Lizard offers mobile tools that use responsive designs to deliver engaging content directly to young members.

Content storage

Whilst an important element in digital transformation, publishers admit that they have overestimated their abilities regarding content storage. Many publishers feel that they have already made significant investments in this area, yet they are still struggling with lack of standardisation,  on how and where content is stored which complicates external workflow and ease of doing business.

Collaboration abilities

Collaborative efforts have been described as “fragmented” and “limited”. Many publishers would agree that there needs to be a change in an organisations culture and leadership approach, in order to automate collaborations on content. To bypass traditional and outdated methods of sharing content and to adopt new processes and technology there needs to be clear indications from senior management on how this should be managed.

In the face of challenges to digital transformation, publishers can feel encouraged to know that it is not too late to implement a digital strategy and adopt the right tools and practices.

Page Lizard offers access to digital resources to support publishers who feel intimidated by the seemingly complex journey towards digital transformation.

Our CPD apps for membership organisations are the perfect example of tools that deliver content to an engaged audience.

To learn more how a bespoke app can help you create engagement with your members or target audience contact us for a chat and you’ll be surprised how cost-effective a solution Page Lizard provides.

Photo by Juliana Malta on Unsplash

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