Posts Tagged ‘digital’

Will digital save print?

You would think that digital has started to slowly strangle print. But, digital could well be its saviour. This article explains why this might be the case.

QR codes and 2D Data Matrix come to the rescue of print | |


Is XML heaven or hell?

09/09/2009 1 comment
XML - Heaven or Hell?

XML - Heaven or Hell?

Last week was eye-opening in several ways. I attended two conferences in London. The second one I attended was about online PR and reputation management. If you ever wonder or care about what people are saying about you, your company, your brand or your products, and how that affects the future of them all, then the lessons from this seminar are something about which you should learn.

On Wednesday, I went to the ‘StartWithXML‘ conference which might sound like a tedious affair but it was quite the contrary. This three letter acronym (XML) signifies how the publishing industry is changing from a printed world which has, to a large degree, an attitude of “We publish and sell books” to a digital publishing world whose attitude is “We are distributors of information”.

To quickly explain the benefits of XML, if a publisher starts the book publishing process when they receive a manuscript from an author in Microsoft Word or as an XML document, the ability for the publisher to efficiently turn that into not just a printed book but other products like an eBook, or an online reference tool (if it is guide, for example), is greatly increased. Not only that, the publisher can make the book searchable so that potential customers can find it and read about it in more detail before they buy it.

The benefits of starting the publishing process with a book in XML format are not only good for the publisher, they are good for the customers and the authors. Customers will buy more products and authors will get more royalties.

Most of the large publishing houses are fully aware of the benefits of XML to their businesses. They are in the process of getting their production teams skilled in XML and digital publishing. But it’s the smaller publishers that really need XML. By starting their publishing process with their manuscripts in XML, they can become extremely efficient and competitive in a crowded market.

For example, Snowbooks is a “feisty” publisher made up of three people. They produce all of their books using XML which are held on a database. Each book has all of the information about the title held in XML as well as the book in digital format so that, literally, at the click of a button, they can produce 48-page catalogues about their lists, feed their web site and make versions of each book in different formats. Anyone who has ever tried to put together a catalogue in a conventional way will know that it can take weeks and weeks to do this.

So, if you are in publishing and in production and you don’t know about XML, then you might be thinking it sounds like hell. But, if you do know about XML and its benefits then you could be about to secure your job. You role may well move from the production team into the IT team but, as they say, “if you don’t like change, then see how you feel about irrelevance”.

For more details from the StartwithXML conference, you can see the slide decks used by the speakers here.

Categories: business, publishing Tags: , ,

Hull gets the digital royalty

Hull Digital Live

Hull Digital Live

Jon Moss from Hull Digital is a man who has found a seam of digital excellence in an area of the country which is often overshadowed by the larger cities in the UK where it is incorrectly believed that the majority of the country’s digital talent is held. Hull and the surrounding area is seen as a deprived trouble spot.

But, the reality could not be more different. Far from being a backwater or a black hole for digital talent, Hull is a vibrant place with a collection of companies and individuals with a rich range of skills and experience in the world of digital technology.

Jon started a networking group where, each month, he invites the local people from the digital talent pool to meet, share ideas and create new business opportunities. From its outset, the networking group called ‘Hull Digital’ has had an attendance of 45 to 50 people at each session. Jon invites two speakers to stand up and talk about aspects of the digital industry in which they are involved or passionate.

This has now developed into what one might call a ‘digital movement’ in the city and Jon has launched Hull’s first digital conference on 14th October called ‘Hull Digital Live‘. Jon is a man with connections and he has managed to attract some of the UK’s digital royalty to speak at the event, including Rory Cellan-Jones from the BBC.

Rory Cellan-Jones writes reports and blogs about a wide range of digital news and manages to make complex digital subjects approachable. Rory is the main speaker for the day long conference.

There are still ‘early-bird’ tickets available and if you want to know how you and your business or organisation can benefit from the digital revolution then you should make yourself available for the conference that Jon is organising.

Digital and technology in the UK today See Rory Cellan-Jones speak here

Keeping it simple is easy to say but difficult to do

Focus on the outcome

Focus on the outcome

Several years ago when working for one of the world’s largest software companies, I was having a conversation with a colleague whose background was software development but who was now in marketing. He was extolling the virtues of the latest version of the company’s software development tools.

It was interesting to a point, and I pointed out that I was probably not the best person to try and excite about the details because I was far more interested in what the tools did rather than how they did it. He was shocked at my attitude. I remember the look on his face. His expression looked as though I had just blasphemed. How could I work in that company and not be interested in the nuts and bolts of the ‘how’ of the software rather than the ‘what’ of the results of using the software?

The advertisements of the time for that product had a theme of moon landings and a line which went something like “Just imagine what could have been done in 1969 when getting those now famous Americans onto the moon if they had this product“.

The problem with that campaign was that most people who would be using the software were not trying to get astronauts to the moon. Most software developers wanted to do far more basic things in their daily work lives and do them slightly faster than previously possible. The launch of that version of the product was a flop and it took them another two to three years with the launch of a new version and more down to earth ambitions for the product to take off (if you’ll excuse the pun).

This story is commonplace in businesses which have technical products. Often, the technical people become wrapped up in splendid details and features but become detached from why their customers would benefit from them. That’s basic sales and marketing knowledge but it is surprising just how much it continues to happen.

Last night I ran a presentation at the Hull Digital networking event about 2-D codes which is a technology that enables people to scan a code on, say, a poster using their mobile phone which then might take them to a mobile web site, or which will dial a number for them, or send a text message.

This is all very well, but I focused on the opportunity that the technology represents rather than the technology itself in my presentation. 2-D codes happen to be good at connecting offline marketing (e.g. an ad in a magazine) to online resources (e.g. a mobile web site). But the opportunity which is more interesting is, for example, that of enabling two different companies with different specialisations in marketing to work together in partnership to offer clients new solutions.

This is approach is far easier for people to comprehend than an approach which talks about features. I know you need people who are good at understanding the features of a product or service. I couldn’t do my job without a team of expert web developers who know how it works. But clients don’t care too much about the ins and outs of a product. They just want to know if you can help, what the outcome will look like and when you can do it by.

It’s simple to understand, but often people forget to do it and end up losing opportunities to help their clients and to gain new ones.

Textbooks, but not as we know them

Renting books for students could become the norm

Renting books for students could become the norm

Publishers are looking at new ways to provide choice to students to buy their textbooks. Rental is a trend growing in popularity which provides a discount off the purchase price for the student and which also appears to provide the author with opportunities to earn more royalties too.

Textbook Publisher to Rent to College Students –

Digital skills in a changing publishing industry are increasingly scarce

Digital skills gap in publishing is critical

Digital skills gap in publishing is critical

This is an interesting article in The Bookseller which highlights the skills gap challenge within the publishing industry. The understanding within experienced, middle management about the possibilities and strategies on how to use digital technology are weak and the creative skills to turn that into fresh, effective and tactical realities are often not there because higher paying sectors make publishing less attractive to enter.

Digital skills gap now ‘critical’ for publishers |

BBC Radio Lincolnshire tech slot with William Wright

Listen to Will talking with @mrwilliam in his tech slot today. Cloud Computing & online jobs – scroll to 2hrs 30mins

Categories: business Tags: , , ,