Digital Transformation Accelerators for Content Reuse

Even well into the digital age, publishers have persisted in maintaining processes that confine their businesses to a specific format (usually, the book) and to a single business model. Forward-thinking editors, however, demand freedom to reuse and repurpose content in innovative, high-value ways, especially on mobile devices.

At BookExpo America in May 2018, a panel discussion – The Content Liberation Movement – identified the digital transformation accelerators that can help editors and executives break down the barriers. Featured guests were Ganessan Paramanathan, who serves as Evangelist and Solutions Architect at Alfresco, an enterprise open-source software company focused on driving the convergence of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Business Process Management (BPM) to advance the flow of digital business; Maxwell Riggsbee, the co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Gadget Software, a virtual publishing technology that atomizes, enhances and streams book, manual and journal content to smartphones; and Renee Swank, Sr. Director, Copyright Clearance Center.

Read the transcript here.


Maxwell Riggsbee, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at Gadget Software: The mobile device, whether it’s tablet or whether it’s phone, right? It’s touch-driven. It’s driven by a completely different set of expectations. And what’s beginning to happen is folks are beginning to ask questions around the data that they want to use, but also at times where they want that data to be accessed.

I’ll give you an example. One of the largest requests that we’re getting is can you take a publication and make it only available in a certain location? So maybe I have someone that’s working in a nuclear facility, but I don’t want certain book-related information available if they’re outside of the geography of that place. That’s data, actually. I mean, I have to now have some information that informs the publication that you’re in a place where you actually can’t render this as something that’s visible, alongside other pieces of information that might be critical to some decision – you used that term a little while ago – some decision I now need to make at this particular point in time under these scenarios. So what we’re seeing is an intersection of information from a variety of sources. You hear the term IoT. That’s informing some of that.

Renee Swank, Sr. Director, Copyright Clearance Center: I work with a lot of publishers, and they have big capabilities that they’re putting on their digital platforms in terms of creating new ways of exploring their content and being able to search and things like that. But it’s really burdened by the old ways of continuing to publish in a very print-based workflow – still creating print first, focused on print-first review processes and content creation process, thinking about their content very linearly, and creating front-to-back books.

I think that gets in the way of being able to open and liberate your content to that kind of capability that Maxwell was talking about, where you contextualize your content, where you can allow people to search in different ways. As your study had shown, people can’t find the information that they’re looking for when it’s buried down in a very deep part of the book. It’s just not really made for the mobile devices that we’re starting to see people use, especially in research and that kind of content.

So I think one of the things that is important to do is start to break the way that people start to create their content, so they’re thinking about how their content can be explored and used in different ways on the platforms that they’re developing today and any new platforms that are going to be coming in the future. So it’s really about looking at that process – editorial process – and looking at, instead of creating a front-to-back book – front-to-back set of content that’s really about a particular product – it’s more creating more granular pieces of content that can be mixed and matched and enriched that devices, whether that might be a web platform or a mobile device, can explore that content in new ways.

Perhaps an end user may want to mix and match that content to create their own books. Maybe it’s contextualized based on where they’re at. So I think that it’s about starting upstream in an editorial process in order to create content agility and giving those end platforms a way to create new user experiences.

Ganessan Paramanathan, who serves as Evangelist and Solutions Architect at Alfresco: …The context is really important. I call them as – think about it as content is your muscle. Context is going to be your nutrition – you got to feed the muscle and enrich your muscle. So we are seeing a huge trend, as Renee mentioned – context is going to be really critical to (inaudible) nutrition and feed your muscle.

And then, at Alfresco, what we have done is we created a common platform to capture your – I call them as learning objects. As Renee mentioned, so you have the ability to create as a granular chunk – be agile on how you create the content. As you have that information, keep it as a small, small granular chunk of content. Capture that. And also have a common – I call them as a digital process layer, not as a one digital publishing pipeline for print, another publishing pipeline for print – instead of having two separate pipeline, think about it as having a common digital workflow to manage the print and also to manage the digital version as well. Have the common model. And then have that publishing framework irrespective of your multichannel, omnichannel experience, and don’t think about – don’t hang up on your format. Have flexible on your format but just work on your common model. And then at Alfresco, the downstream – we take care of that publishing into your omnichannel experience and everything.

Also, at the downstream, once you go further, we can put that artificial intelligence and machine learning into that on how do you repurpose your content which you already have? Let’s say you are creating a different version for a different culture or a different set of audience. Use your machine learn and let the machine learn automatically create the skeleton based on repurpose the content from there and then publish it to the downstream and also – take an example of a translation – use some of the artificial intelligence and the machine learning to create that different language version of the content. And again, don’t hang up of your format. Just think out of the box.


Author: Christopher Kenneally

Christopher Kenneally hosts CCC's Velocity of Content podcast series, which debuted in 2006 and is the longest continuously running podcast covering the publishing industry. As CCC's Senior Director, Marketing, he is responsible for organizing and hosting programs that address the business needs of all stakeholders in publishing and research. His reporting has appeared in the New York Times, Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times, The Independent (London), WBUR-FM, NPR, and WGBH-TV.
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