Digital Directions: Transformation's End
The year 2013 will be known as that in which the current cycle of digital transformation will draw to a close. Those organizations that will execute significant changes to core business functions in order to realize new digital opportunities have already done so, or at least begun. Those that have not begun these changes are unlikely ever to do so.
A number of recent events signal the end of the Transformation Era:
● O'Reilly's popular Tools of Change conference, the annual touchstone for publishing transformation, is no more. The rallying cry for PUBLISHING CHANGE is no longer such an intriguing draw. As Tim O'Reilly said when TOC was shuttered, "Seven years on, 'digital publishing' is well on its way to simply being 'publishing.' "
● MarkLogic's XML database platform, once thought to be a requirement for any serious cross-platform publisher, is little mentioned. Publishers now realize that digital success cannot be found within a magical software project, such as an XML database or "a DAM." MarkLogic has clearly signaled an end to its wooing of the publishing industry: Its annual Digital Publishing Summit, like TOC, is no more.
● At BookExpo this year, there was neither the deer-in-the-headlights fatalism that publishers displayed in years past, nor the unbridled optimism and daydreams of endless ebook sales trajectories, as seen last year. Publishers are viewing opportunities in the digital publishing marketplace in increasingly rational and realistic ways. Digital publishing is indeed "publishing."
The impetus for change has been replaced by steadfastness of execution by those publishers with committed courses of digital change. For them, it is a time of execution.
In those organizations that have not adopted a program of change, complacency prevails. However, without having executed some fundamental changes, without the means to engage with customers directly and without the ability to support platform-agnostic content creation, these organizations will have a difficult time maintaining their momentum and autonomy in the digital marketplace.
Related story: Rethinking the Monolith