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"Is putting the content consumer at the centre of information products really that important?"

Right now, a lot of the energy of publishers is being focused on being more user centric. Putting their consumers at the centre. As the economic power shifts to authors and readers this may be long overdue. Is this missing a bigger picture shift and are there other alternatives to consider? Here are some thoughts from our recent webinar featuring Tommy Doyle


  1. How do you define User Experience?

  • It’s all about how a user interacts with a product or service

  • It’s how the person feels and thinks about

  • How useful it is

  • How easy it is to use

  • Ultimately whatever job they are looking to do you are always shooting for a combination of outcomes like

  • Happiness and joy

  • Saving time

  • Saving money

  • Getting better results


  1. So why do you ask ‘is reader experience really that import?’

  • I think user experience is important but reader experience is only one context and seems to be the one that everyone is drawn to right now

  • A lot of publishers given their own current context equate user experience just to reader experience, and see that as a major shift from their traditional thinking of serving the 2nd hand information from their buyers stated needs (i.e. librarians)

  • I do think publishers need to become much more user centric, particularly as the economics shift from subscription budgets to author pays where the individual becomes a more and more important economic actor

  • However, I’d argue that a reader experience only focus is not covering the full and evolving landscape

  • To stir the pot a bit one could argue a sole focus on reader experience is limiting and even harmful to the overall industry


  1. So what other aspects of this landscape should publishers be considering?

  • Where are users spending their time digitally, what is the context?

  • RCNs larger than Publisher and Aggregator Neutral Meta Platforms

  • Context is different from the single ‘search, view, print’

  • Looking to collaborate, find experts, find and work through things with others

  • Greater degrees of personalization. Also highly personalized and taking a much bigger digital fingerprint than any single publisher alone.

  • How is this information being used and valued in other contexts and different user groups

  • Data tools and service companies

  • API economy: Data and tasks are more and more separated: Tool based and workflows.

  • Particularly in more advanced digital evolutions for example in FinTech data is brought from sources and used elsewhere (e.g. Square widely used payment system here in US)

  • New markets

  • Investment community (VCs, BioTechs, even Hedge Funds/Traders)

  • Competitive intel and business intelligence

  • Prediction platforms need to gather a wide and diverse range of data sets these may very well not be typical or expected users of academic content

  • These want to create on the fly a one body of knowledge on a very specific thing, any pre- packaging and curating whether that be by a journal, a publisher, a database, a librarian are much less important


  1. What are the barriers from doing this?

  • Access to new markets and buyer. Strong to desire to have these and own these, but limited understanding or any footprint. Cost of entry can be very high

  • Relationship status (one of defense, fixed mindset versus open growth mindset)

  • Technology shifts (PDF => XML, contextual labelling, AI automation, rent the stack, Open API based structures)

  • Business models (data as a service, marketplaces, channel partnerships)


  1. If publishers are seen as pure data suppliers what opportunities/alternatives are there to grow?

  • Broader Term view: Take an ecosystem mindset and build an ecosystem strategy.

  • Content syndication

  • Data exchanges and platforms

  • Closer View: Production Platforms

  • Get scale for others or rent it, what you need to own and specialize versus rent

  • Author services player

  • Relationships really matter, what services can one bring to solve pain points in the research, writing, distribution or promotion process

  • Data feeds plus

  • Specialized societies labelling and enriching content reducing computer costs downstream

  • Community membership plays

  • Expert Networks

  • Advisory Councils

  • Facilitating highest value 1-2-1 interaction

  • Specialized swim upstream

  • With a deep understanding of the user and use cases (beyond purely a reader), there may be opportunities to start to venture out and leverage existing brand, reach and user trust


  • In conclusion – If you have been informed, inspired or even confused by this set of notes on this topic, get in touch – connect with ConTech.Live and learn, network and share with us in the contact form at the bottom of this page.

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