23 Feb 11 Technology in publishing: What next?

It was the first quarter of 2009. We were interviewing service providers to create our report on “Offshoring in the Publishing Vertical, 2009“. One such interview has left a lasting impression on us. Not because the company was unique in its offerings. Not because the person we were talking to was exceptionally eloquent. But because of one statement that was a commentary on the things to come –

“Technology will become a pre-requisite. And it is going to be a differentiator.”

For long, the pre-press services industry has always viewed technology as an enabler. However, that has since changed. As the publishing industry aggressively ‘goes digital’, providers will need to incorporate technology that is as advanced as the buyer’s – in some cases even more advanced. The need of the hour is to view technology not only as an enabler but as a service in its own right.

The publishing services industry has seen an influx of IT/BPO/ITeS providers, fully capable of offering pre-press services – with significant experience in offering technology services. While pure play pre-press service providers do have the added advantage of domain and process expertise, threats still loom large, primarily to do with the lack of expertise in providing technology services.

The buyer’s need is now centered on functional technology – technology that will help address issues with various functions in an increasingly complicated workflow. Providing functional technology provides a sizeable opportunity for providers. Almost all publishers globally have a requirement for such technology. While the technology could be packaged as a bundle, customized (outsourced product development) or off the shelf, it represents a market that could accommodate providers of varying types, sizes and skills.

Of the vendor groups, pre-press providers are best positioned to offer functional technology solutions to publishers. Having already developed a significant expertise in industry specific services, pre-press providers are capable of addressing various issues and challenges that publishers might face. Several pre-press vendors have already created proprietary solutions that are being offered to clients as a value addition.

For some publishers, the digital market has become a critical source of revenue, for others, a channel to augment existing revenues. Either way, technology has emerged as a pre-requisite. And in my opinion, pre-press  services providers have the home advantage…

ValueNotes Research
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