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CCC (Copyright Clearance Center) has launched a new automated, data-driven tool designed to improve content providers’ ability to generate the clean, actionable information required to craft agreements with research institutions and funders of open-access publishing.
What to Know and Why It Matters
CCC’s latest product launch offers scholarly content providers new opportunities to scale their open-access (OA) publishing arrangements for various research institutions and funders. The OA Agreement Intelligence (OAAI) tool was designed for publishers to normalize and analyze the numerous data sets necessary to develop new business models that support OA publishing. Informed by pilot tests with four leading publisher partners that manage agreements across hundreds of funders, consortia, and other institutional partners, this new offering integrates Ringgold identifiers with historical data on article-processing charges (APC) and other key publication metrics.
To offer OA publishing agreements at scale, providers have historically faced challenging manual work: first they must evaluate the scholarly publications produced by authors at both educational and commercial institutions, and then they must assess the current access rights and subscriptions held by those institutions. These data sets often live in spreadsheets, contain gaps or errors, and can be difficult to compare without computational assistance.
With CCC’s new tool, providers can input subscription records, APC data, and publication metadata, which the system standardizes and visualizes with the help of a new disambiguation engine. The tool, which can be used in conjunction with RightsLink, allows providers to run various pricing models against that data, using estimated growth rates, APC changes, and more. Providers can experiment with models by adjusting agreement terms and evaluating scenarios for each institutional customer.
The future of OA as a dominant publishing model was clearly solidified with last month’s OSTP guidance, and all scholarly content providers must prepare for OA business models to become the new normal. CCC’s OAAI promises to address numerous industry pain points in deploying new OA models at scale with the necessary transparency and collaboration between research institutions, funders, and publishers.
Analyst Rating: Positive
CCC’s OAAI is poised to accelerate content providers’ ability to grow and sustain “transformative” institutional agreements. This new data-driven solution has the potential to resolve significant industry limitations to operationalizing and expanding OA business models.
As an example of a data-driven, customer-centric innovation for this sector, CCC’s latest launch mainly competes with providers’ existing homegrown systems for OA business modeling and negotiations. While there are existing analytics tools offering publishers and librarians similar insights into OA pricing and publication trends, the other tools do not enable users to experiment with agreement modeling by testing scenarios to see how they change as publishing volume, price points, and other terms vary. By offering the ability to customize the tool to suit providers’ needs, CCC appears to be in a league of its own with this new product.
Winners and Losers
As a leading supplier of workflow and industry solutions for scholarly communications stakeholders, CCC is well positioned to be a market leader in shaping the future of how providers develop OA business models and sustain their relationships with research institutions. This is a strong strategic move for CCC; it establishes the company’s leadership in automated solutions to help providers navigate the move to OA as the primary model in our industry. With this launch, CCC is staking a claim to the OA software-as-a-service (SaaS) market and may have scooped others similarly well-positioned—such as Clarivate, EBSCO, or Digital Science—in addressing these industry needs.
The launch of this tool is good news for the hundreds of scholarly content providers that struggle to rework their business models away from the point of access and toward the point of article submission. The potential time savings for sales analysts and operations is nontrivial and will likely be a major selling point. Pricing is based on publisher size using a typical SaaS fee model, so presumably the barrier to entry for existing RightsLink customers will be lower than for those not yet using CCC’s primary publisher platform. Smaller organizations with fewer internal resources for the implementation and maintenance required of such enterprise systems may continue with in-house solutions.
This launch could also signal the demise of those SaaS solutions that facilitate traditional licensing models. For example, the Unsub service, which helps research institutions evaluate the value of their content licenses, will likely continue to undermine the “big deal” license model for the next few years, but its long-term growth potential is questionable. There are also likely diminishing returns available for document delivery services, such as CCC’s Get It Now or Reprints Desk’s Article Galaxy Scholar.
CCC is developing the OAAI roadmap, which is likely to focus on building out automated quality controls as well as data analysis, conversion, and sharing across systems, among other API-based integrations. Plans also include adding the ability to import data from non-RightsLink resources, additional visualizations and filters for more granular insights, and continued development of CCC’s author-affiliation matching technologies. Leveraging artificial intelligence is also on the roadmap.
Building on its RightsLink suite of services to support publishers and open-access models, CCC will likely be busy responding to interest from across the landscape of scholarly communications providers. Webinars, conference sessions, and other opportunities to view demonstrations of the tool will provide the industry further insight into how OAAI can address providers’ needs for OA business model and sales support.
OAAI offers content providers a range of opportunities to refresh how they manage customer and publication data, as well as a new approach for developing OA agreements.
✔ Set an OA Data Strategy
The OAAI reminds the industry of the ability to achieve economies of scale by harnessing the power of automated data normalization, integration, and processing. Whether providers are considering short- or long-term solutions for OA modeling, it is critical to establish an organization-wide strategy for capturing and standardizing publication metadata, customer records, and sales data.
✔ Request a Trial
CCC is likely going to be closely watching how publishers respond to its new tool and will be eager for more market input. This is a perfect time to request a short-term trial: CCC will get additional user-testing opportunities, and providers will get a chance to see what the data-aggregation capabilities OAAI might reveal regarding institutional customers’ publishing habits. A trial period could give sales specialists, pricing analysts, and editorial leadership a chance to test-drive the accuracy and value of the tool for their journals.
✔ Reconsider Sales Workflows
If nothing else, this news is a good excuse for content providers to take a fresh look at the internal resources that support their institutional sales and business-model development. From upskilling staff to software investments, companies are well served by regularly evaluating the performance of sales operations and customer relationships.