The Seven Essentials
Publishers are indeed facing seemingly insurmountable obstacles to remain profitable in financially unstable times. Added pressures of evolving technology both hinder and help growth. Recently, VISTA International unveiled the results of several years of intensive studies on traditional publishing operations. VISTA Internationaldoesn't simply challenge publishers to "harness new skills to market new products through new channels," in the study, it offers seven essential strategies for ensuring success.
Information. Many publishers suffer from inefficient and insufficient exchange of information across department boundaries. Even though numerous disciplines within the corporation require access to common information, often that information is created and recreated numerous times. Publishers must create an infrastructure that enables access to an authoritative base of information by those who share a need for it.
Customers. It's no longer a matter of knowing your customers; your publishing organization must understand them, too. Customers should be managed as a "market of one." Their behavior must be tracked, and their interests must be fed. Publishers should then manipulate the rich data compiled and provided to those within the organization who need it to drive sales (see Essential No.1).
Managing the bits and pieces. The more content manifests in varying forms, it is increasingly vital that publishers learn to manage product and rights information throughout the entire organization and into the supply chain. For example, a publisher should be able to identify, describe, process and report on the many different content formats that exist—from hardcover and paperback books to e-books, DVDs, product fragments purchased via the Web, and so on.
Feeling like one of the gang. When distributing content via the Web, VISTA reports that consumers tend to appreciate centralized sources for downloads, rather than bookmarking a far-too-long list of individual publishers' URLs. Choose your partners wisely, though, for consumers will also better appreciate sites that are flexible and able to meet their personal browsing and buying needs.
No. 5 and No. 5.a
Lifecycle management and standards. The amount of data and information that ebbs and flows through any publishing organization is profound. VISTA provides the example of rights and royalties. Information flows in two directions throughout the supply chain. Rights flow from author to publisher to reader, and value is returned through sales and author royalties. This information is far too valuable and complex for many publishers to manage it alone. VISTA suggests that publishers struggling with this issue consider contracting with a third-party rights and royalties service supplier. It can be well worth the investment. But regardless of the data management path you choose, VISTA notes it's essential that the system abide by industry standard protocol.
Partnerships not competitions. During the normal course of publishing operations, the publishing house exchanges information with its supply-chain partners. The best way for publishers to share information with partners is through integration, according to VISTA.
Globalization. VISTA notes that one of the Internet's consequences is the tearing down of geographical borders. Publishers must now create systems and best practices for servicing customers on a global basis. These systems should support multiple languages, currencies and tax regulations. Publishers must also be able to validate international addresses and deal with individual market distribution arrangements and restrictions.
Together, these seven essentials may seem a bit daunting for publishers that prefer a slow, cautious approach to change, but John Wicker, executive vice president, VISTA, explains that publishers who need to take it one step, should take these seven best practices and prioritize the list based on individual corporate long- and short-term goals: "The Seven Essentials provide publishers with an action plan that enables them to manage through a period of significant change."
-Gretchen A. Kirby