In 2006, when PW released the first report on the content services industry in India, the topics centered on XML, PDF, and e-deliverables, and conversations revolved around print- vs. content-centric work flow.
It was a time when SSTM publi-cations formed the bulk of the digitization business, while children’s books and trade titles made their first appearance on the production floor. Then, Apple was still four years away from launching its first-generation iPad. And Google had just acquired a 22-month-old startup called Android Inc. Life was much simpler—and far less exciting.
“Six years ago, publishers were busy pushing larger volumes of work to India in a bid to slash their production costs. The focus then was to move print content production offshore, with some publishers beginning to ask for XML deliverables for Web-based platforms,” says Nishith Arora, chairman of MPS Limited, who has seen the landscape shifting from near and far. After selling ITC, which he founded and owned, to Infomedia in 2006, he left the industry for a spell before establishing ADI BPO and Neuetype. Last October, he roared back onto the scene with the acquisition of industry pioneer MPS Limited.
Today, with online sales finally taking off, Arora sees a heightened focus on digital-first production. “Devices such as iPad and other mobile handhelds are well entrenched in our society, and classroom teaching has undergone major transformation,” he says. “Print books, which used to be publishers’ primary source of revenue, are now likely to be just one component of their sales. It is not an exaggeration to say that publishers are grappling to realign their business models to this new reality. Going forward, one should expect to see further vendor consolidation, more emphasis on process and work-flow standardization, and closer client-vendor partnerships compared to when publishing outsourcing first started.” Arora points out that publishers would much prefer collaborating with service providers such as MPS who have both upstream and downstream competencies to cover all bases.
Buying In from the Top
The most visible trend in the industry, says Jim Lewis, senior v-p for sales and marketing of Innodata Isogen, “has been the explosion of iPad sales. With 100 million iPads expected to be sold by the end of this year, and a total of 300 million tablets in the market by 2015, we have noticed a dramatic rise in interest from senior-level publishing personnel in mobile, tablet, and multichannel content development. Specifically, senior executives are looking more closely at the earliest stages of content supply and asking what they need at the point of content creation to ensure that their content is ready for multichannel consumption.” To address this need, Innodata has developed Content Profiling, a methodology that helps publishers develop content supporting new digital product functionalities across devices and platforms. Lewis also notes that media organizations appear to be refocusing their efforts on revenue enhancement strategies and therefore digital products.
“There is growing awareness among publishers that digital product development and production should be the focus of their innovation and R&D investment,” says president and CEO Dev Ganesan of Aptara. “Before, there was some recognition of this but little organizational commitment. Now, there are concrete moves reflecting growing commitment, affecting areas such as new product innovation and development, partnership business models, and sales and marketing strategies, as well as content development, production, management, and distribution.” Aptara has focused its investment on several key areas, including digital instruction and visual design, rich-media programming, and content technology development for its PXE publishing platform.
Reaching for the Cloud
Speaking of PXE, this complete end-to-end digital publishing platform is built on cloud-based technologies to enable seamless collaboration among subject matter experts, reviewers, and content professionals through the production work flow. “Employing the cloud enhances communication and collaboration between editorial and production staff, and facilitates queries and reviews,” says Ganesan, whose company, a certified Inkling partner, uses Inkling Habitat, a content production platform that relies on a cloud-based work flow from editing to published products.
“Cloud delivery of digital content is an important part of a publisher’s e-commerce delivery channels, as evidenced by the success of Amazon’s Kindle, B&N’s Nook, and various tablets. But using cloud-based distribution technologies to disseminate content to public and private institutions after the point of purchase remains a work in progress due to social, economic, and security concerns,” says Ganesan.
In the U.S., higher education is a step ahead of k–12 in adopting cloud-based technologies, thanks to LMS (learning management system) adoption and other cloud-based courseware in recent years. To Ganesan, there is no question that cloud-based technology is capable of providing broad and efficient content distribution. “Publishers, distributors, and libraries have made some progress toward utilizing cloud-based solutions to distribute digital content to users. However, continued publisher concerns regarding content security and pricing have impeded distribution through services such as OverDrive. A resolution between the parties has to be found before broader cloud-based adoption is possible,” he says.
New Standards and Formats
The launch of EPub 3 and HTML5 is a boon to the content services industry, with more publishers demanding conversion into these new formats. But as with any new standard, there are drawbacks and challenges. “The lack of effective interdocument linking is a big issue with EPub 3. With HTML5, the biggest concern is that it is not yet fully supported by the different browsers and e-readers,” says founder and CEO Nizam Ahmed of DiTech, adding that conversion from Flash to HTML5 with Java-Script is a tedious process requiring extensive analysis and coding.
While the industry body International Digital Publishing Forum is zealously championing EPub 3 as the new e-book delivery format, publishers remain concerned about the lack of a DRM (digital rights management) component. “This is a major deterrent for many who are thinking of adopting the standard. But EPub 3 will definitely evolve and improve with time. When that happens, we will have a single unifying standard,” adds Ahmed, pointing out that “this will enable the publishing community to do away with multiple e-book formats, and the accompanying costs and headaches.”
It is undeniable that companies such as Apple, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble have brought significant changes in the way content is organized, distributed, and used, says Amit Vohra, v-p for sales and operations at Planman Technologies. “We have seen publishers acting quickly to maintain their leadership position and setting up dedicated teams to work on their device or technology-based strategy. From the digitization standpoint, EPub has been a winner—both in static and reflowable formats—and Amazon, through Kindle Fire, has finally addressed trade market needs with KF8. Owing to these changes, we have seen many publishers coming to us for digital solutions—in EPub, apps, and now iBooks Author—at both strategic and development levels.”
Go Digital or Be Irrelevant
“Everything is now about digitization,” says Integra founder, managing director, and CEO Sriram Subramanya. “Publishers are seeing increased content demand across a variety of devices and platforms but have fewer resources and tighter deadlines. Agility, speed-to-market, content optimization—these are always on their minds. Then there is the need to drive up e-sales exponentially with high profitability, and to manage consumer demand for interactive e-books, apps, learning products, and online learning now that the proliferation of tablets and smartphones has reached critical mass. For many, there is the pressing need to offer content continuum with games, animation, and interactivity. Constant evaluation and tweaking of work flow to suit these changes and challenges are the order of the day. But keeping pace with the fast-changing technology and understanding consumer behavior is a really tall order. What the publishers decide to do will naturally affect the content services industry as a whole.”
Market trends put further pressure on publishers, says Subramanya: “Many large educational publishers’ digital revenues are expected to surpass their print revenues this year. At the same time, classroom content is leaning toward digital products. For our industry, such trends are reflected in increased demand for EPub conversion, apps development, new media, e-learning, abstracting, and indexing.”
As digital publishing continues to rise, print revenues are declining. “While the value of quality content has not changed, repurposing content has emerged as an important addition to publishing operations. Such repurposing may range from packaging the content for different consumers to enhancing content functionalities through the use of hyperlinks, annotations, and multimedia components,” says Vinay Singh, executive director of Thomson Digital, pointing out that STM and academic publishers with substantial backlists are now busy adding value for their subscribers by digitizing content and creating databases. “Such databases may contain journals that go back several decades and are important sources of historic information on a specific subject or theme.”
By and large, publishers are upping their digital output by 50% or more while tweaking their plans to suit market trends. “Digital revenues are forming an integral part of most publishers’ business plans. But different segments deal with digital products differently,” adds Singh. “For trade books, digital delivery is viewed as an add-on and not as a supplement to existing revenues. For SSTM, digital revenues are not viewed separately from print revenues, and the focus is on content, not format. In the educational segment, digital content offerings are often restricted to a small portion of their offerings, such as assessment and testing. But on the whole, publishers are moving gradually toward larger investment in digital vs. print. Online distribution and subscription, custom publishing, and digital bookstores are becoming increasingly popular as channels for distributing content.”
“Three to four years ago, interest in XML was largely restricted to STM publishers,” says Walter Walker, executive director of publishing services at code-Mantra. “Today, we see trade and educational publishers pushing for XML-first work flow and structured XML content solutions. This has audacious implications for the future of publishing and our business as more and more publishers and vendors seek skills and talents that are commonly associated with the software industry. The characteristics of publishing have changed, and competitive publishers have become, in part, technology companies, however reluctantly.” For codeMantra, technology is the problem as well as the solution. Its three trademarked products—Collection Point (now in its third version), Universal PDF, and pubXML—were created to simplify the process and help publishers solve problems that arise from their need to digitize, convert, manage, and distribute assets.
With new technologies entering the market at a dizzying pace, “many publishers and content providers do not know how to maximize the value of their content, nor do they have the road map to show them how to get there,” says John Wheeler, v-p for strategy and emerging technologies at SPi Global. “We are helping these companies to connect the dots and create that road map for both the print and digital space. Our Innovation Lab, for instance, is working with several companies that are looking to migrate from Flash to HTML5.”
Wheeler adds, “Companies today face more complex challenges with their work flows and in redefining their business models to meet customers’ changing needs. Having a skilled labor force to execute the plan is part of the solution to these issues. For these reasons, India and the Philippines—where we have several production facilities—with their skilled labor pools, will remain the destinations of choice for the foreseeable future.” SPi Global’s delivery network has 18,000 employees working in 24 locations in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.
While the shift toward e-publishing may mean some threat to the pure typesetting business, Wheeler believes that “it does open many other opportunities to design new products and offer innovative solutions. Publishers may also need to create their own platforms or utilize third-party platforms to get their content uploaded and managed.” Wheeler’s database and customer support services team is working on one such platform to provide voice-based help desk services to publishers that have difficulty uploading their content onto various platforms.
Each company profiled in this report is answering calls for new products and novel solutions in its own way, building on proven expertise and established reputation. Some are busy expanding through acquisitions and organic growth targeting new markets, while others are being acquired and taking advantage of deeper pockets and better resources to further solidify their industry standings. Whichever path they choose, there is no denying that the content services industry is thriving in the face of relentless digitization and pursuit of newer products to wow consumers and clients alike.
Now, let’s take a closer look at 17 companies, in reverse alphabetical order, to learn more of their capabilities and what they have up their sleeves for the foreseeable future. You can then evaluate, choose, and decide which vendors can best help you transform your content and be your partners on the digitization journey ahead. (New articles and q&as with vendors and publishers on the content services industry will be available at www.publishersweekly.com/ContentServices2012 starting from April 23.)
Although the STM segment has long been Thomson Digital’s core competency (with a clientele comprising a who’s who in the segment), executive director Vinay Singh is still discovering many untapped areas. Customizing solutions to meet these niche requirements ranks high on his business plan: “With technology continuously bringing disruptive innovation to the industry, publishers have to constantly deal with challenges such as high digitization costs, complex multichannel delivery, content interoperability, and content security. But help is at hand: we are in the last phase of developing an enterprise content management portal, which we call TD-XPS. This is one of our innovative solutions designed to provide our clients competitive differentiation and operational efficiencies.”
The increasing demand for e-learning modules and content compatible with smartphones and tablets has also raised the demand for concept art and character design with distinct local flavors. “Since there is a shift toward multichannel delivery, conceptual design now takes into consideration the requirements of all delivery platforms right from the initiation stage. While online distribution makes it convenient for publishers to test new markets, it comes with an increasing need for design adaptations. The challenge is to maintain the original art style of the publisher while creating adaptable content, as well as products, for different markets.”
Adds Singh, “For every new technology that has come on the scene, Thomson Digital has created applications that capitalize on the best that the technology has to offer. For instance, our team has created unique and immersive mobile learning, or m-learning, modules that produce an advanced knowledge environment using mobile technology to the maximum. We have customized mobile apps for different segments, ranging from magazines, health care, and medical publishing to k–12 and higher ed. Our team of content developers, instructional designers, and technology experts make maximum use of the digital space to create a rich media experience. In short, we offer publishers cost-effective ways to distribute their content on various platforms, enhance their brand value, get in sync with market demands, and create new revenue sources.”
There is also immense opportunity in the non-English-speaking world. “We have been able to tap and develop such markets by extending the complete range of services to them, including content development and technology localization,” says Singh. “We now have associates in Rio de Janeiro and Poland in addition to existing overseas facilities in the U.S. and Mauritius.” Meanwhile, Thomson’s latest facility in Sikkim—India’s least populated state and the second smallest in land area—is moving ahead, leveraging the area’s good basic education for its people, low labor cost, and stable infrastructure.
With only 70 people in its Chennai office and another 110 in Trichy, Swift Prosys is the smallest operation featured in this report. But its successes with unusual projects (see “Projects Showcase”) have stood the company in good stead. Founded in 2007 by Mohan Thas Shanmugam, it started by digitizing archives for the local market before expanding to Europe. In 2009, it became a part of Meridian Group, a major player in Chennai’s manpower supply market.
One Swift Prosys project is IMPACT (Improving Access to Text), which is funded by the European Commission to digitize the region’s cultural heritage. “We are currently digitizing 16th- and 17th-century books in XML for institutions such as the Innsbruck University Library, the Bavarian State Library, and Koninklijke Bibliotheek. Our client provides scanned images and OCR text, which we have to clean up and dechunk into words, lines, paragraphs, and segments—a tedious process as old books are not well formatted. In some cases, the scans are terrible because of the books’ condition. However, we met the client’s expectation of 100% segmentation accuracy and 99.98% text quality,” says Shanmugam, who uses a Gage R&R (repeatability and reproducibility) system to evaluate and select personnel for the project. “This project plays to our strength in digitizing archives in XML encoding schemas such as TEI, NIMAS, PubMed, NLM, Dublin Core, MODS, and METS/ALTO.”
Another library project involves MARC 21 standards, for which Shanmugam (in his current role as director for technical and business development) developed a cataloguing tool that eases the process considerably. “We reproduce the text on the scanned library cards from our client and encode each field accordingly. The data is then stored in XML and checked against MARC 21 standards. Author names are also checked against the Library of Congress database for normalization and duplication. The final output, in MARC XML, is validated against the schema prior to delivery to the client. We have done more than 237,000 cards so far.”
For Shanmugam, the time is right to expand his U.S. client base, targeting venerable publishing houses and institutions with old volumes for digitization. “This year, we are expanding our office space by another 3,000 square feet and adding at least another 100 employees. We have also set up the Swift Prosys Academy to train graduates and diploma holders in EPub and XML technologies, who are subsequently placed in various organizations. Manpower supply is, after all, one of our group’s core businesses.”
Crowned BPO Company of the Year at the 2011 International ICT Awards, beating seven other finalists, and ranked #1 service provider (print and publishing vertical) by the 2009 Black Book of Outsourcing, SPi Global is the biggest player in the book segment. Its acquisition of Chennai-based Laserwords in November further solidifies its focus and strength in the STM segment. SPi Global is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT), a major player in three verticals—content services, health care, and voice-based customer relationship management—that is listed on the Philippines and New York stock exchanges.
“In recent years, we have become more of a partner to our clients than just a vendor. This is one of the key differentiators that set SPi Global apart,” says v-p for strategy and emerging technologies John Wheeler, who spearheads the company’s 200-strong Innovation Lab. The lab’s recent work includes conceptualizing e-first work flow and production processes for books and journals, improving content experience through enhanced e-books, helping clients with EPub 3 and HTML5 deliverables, optimizing clients’ work processes, and piloting projects in services and solutions that are not commonly outsourced.
HTML5 and EPub 3, adds Wheeler, are the future of e-deliverables. “We are seeing a huge amount of interest in repurposing Flash content, especially quizzes and interactive exercises, for delivery in HTML5. So our team has developed robust and scalable work flows for such conversion. On the other hand, EPub 3 allows publishers to leverage the power of various mobile devices by incorporating media components into their deliverables. It is interesting to see HTML5 becoming an important part of media delivery and being tightly integrated into EPub 3 specifications. Needless to say, we are capitalizing on our content conversion and multimedia expertise to maximize our clients’ ability to deliver through these two important technologies.”
The attention on e-books and mobile apps is expected, given the ubiquity of handheld electronic devices. For Wheeler, “it is only logical to make content available for these devices. The typical smartphone—whether it is Apple, Android, or Windows powered—is essentially a very powerful minicomputer. Still, I am a bit surprised at the amount of reading done on these devices. The utility of many mobile apps has completely changed how everybody views and uses handhelds. Naturally, our team is actively preparing and converting content for these products.”
Last year, a major publisher of textbooks, reference works, trade titles, and educational software selected Planman as a vendor of choice for a project to produce multiple programs for mobile and handheld devices. “This project required an understanding of educational products, as our team had to review the content and make decisions and recommendations relating to file formats that could be produced, such as reflowable EPub and fixed-layout EPub. Furthermore, the content had to be tested on multiple devices and platforms based on the client’s acceptance testing criteria and quality parameters,” says v-p for sales Amit Vohra. Now that EPub 3 and DAISY standards are converging, the ida-reader—a software application produced by Planman and Danish company xml-tekst for dyslexic and visually impaired readers—“will be the first to have the ability to read aloud both DAISY and EPub 3 files across platforms.” The past eight months also saw Planman helping publishers to convert existing Flash-based content into HTML5.
As for meeting tight deadlines and stringent quality control, no one beats Planman’s newspaper digitization team. Says v-p of operations P.S. Narang, “Our team has digitized more than five million pages of newspapers in the past three years using our state-of-the-art proprietary work-flow solution. We have also digitized more than two million contemporary newspaper pages in the past year. The challenge lies in delivering 50-plus titles (approximately 4,500 pages) on a daily basis within three hours upon receipt. A robust work-flow monitoring system plays a big role in making everything happen on time, every time.” (Planman works with national libraries worldwide and digitizes newspaper archives from microfilm.)
Vohra notes that American publishers are asking for more full-service packaging and digital technology solutions, often with simultaneous delivery. Planman’s full-service packaging model is focused on the k–16 market, and its team has just finished a big primary math project for a well-known educational publisher. “European and Asian clients have just started to ask for such services, and we see this market expanding.”
The goal for the coming year, adds Vohra, is to help clients make the transition from print to digital. “The idea is not only to produce content for digital devices but to help create an ‘ecosystem’ by developing e-reader applications that allow e-books to be read on different devices, producing those e-books, and then deploying the content in an e-bookstore where users can purchase the books for that ecosystem. One of the problems of developing an e-book is that it would not look the same on all e-readers, even within the same ecosystem.”
Newgen Knowledge Works
Last July, the Carlyle Group sold its majority stake in Chennai-based Newgen to a consortium of private equity funds: Aureos South Asia Fund, ePlanet Capital, and Franklin Templeton Private Equity Strategy. That change in the company’s private equity investors coincided with a name change to Newgen Knowledge Works. “The new name better reflects the depth to which we now engage with the content we handle and the extent to which our publishing clients have come to view us as a technology solutions provider,” says president Maran Elancheran, who found the 2012 TOC Conference in New York one of his most rewarding industry experiences. “The response to the launch of our e-book conversion platform SILK at the conference was extremely gratifying. Trade fairs can be a lonely experience for exhibiting prepress vendors, but TOC is a venue for the exchange of ideas rather than rights. A lively q&a session and a slew of e-mail requests for further information followed our presentation.” SILK uses intelligent automation to address much-publicized quality issues found in e-books that are converted from backlist print titles.
Last year, Newgen’s U.K.-based subsidiary, GPSL, partnered with the American Chemical Society to design an in-house XML-first system that allows true automated composition of complex technical journal articles. “This has translated into significant cost and time savings and increased revenue opportunities for the society,” adds Elancheran. GPSL also formally launched RDG China and opened a new office in Beijing last February. RDG China, a joint venture with SFP (a part of the Shandong Publishing Group), will provide technical solutions to complex publishing challenges in the growing Chinese market.
Back in India, Newgen has developed and implemented JAWS, a system that provides authors and publishers with a (browser) window into the automated XML composition workflow. “JAWS does away with the need for authors to provide proof corrections as annotated PDFs, scanned pages, or e-mailed lists of changes. Instead, they can now log into the system through any browser, make changes to the content, and see those changes reproofed instantly for approval. Authors do not need to have any knowledge of XML.”
Alongside the standard huge backlist conversion projects and multivolume reference books, the past year has also seen Newgen and its clients experimenting with disruptive ways of producing and disseminating content. Adds Elancheran, “There has been a greater willingness to experiment in the past year. For us, it is exciting to be an integral part of these projects, and we are looking forward to our clients’ product announcements soon.”
The indisputable leader in the journal segment, MPS is currently building an app factory with interactive journal content for a large publisher. “We anticipate that journals will increasingly shift to mobile delivery and incorporate handheld devices’ visual and interactive features. Devices will play a bigger role in determining and driving content dissemination,” says chairman Nishith Arora, adding that the key drivers of journal and STM publishing are going to be “monetization of content, minimal manual intervention at the prepress stage, and time-to-market.”
Helping publishers to generate usage statistics—something that is required by libraries and institutions that subscribe to their e-books, e-journals, or databases—is one way of monetizing content. “Our MPSInsight delivers COUNTER-compliant reports and a suite of reports through a Web-based interface. We have also added a sales module, Insight Plus, which can be used by publishers’ sales and marketing teams to increase revenue and analyze content usage from multiple angles. Libraries can now log in to access reports as well as download them, using SUSHI client, to their ERM systems. Another new application, Data Analysis Tool, allows publishers to write ad hoc queries to slice and dice data from different dimensions.” IEEE, for instance, switched to MPSInsight after its previous COUNTER-reporting vendor failed to deliver crucial reports on time.
Meanwhile, the team is building a comprehensive publishing platform that can be used to paginate, publish, and distribute books for on-demand printing, online retailing, the Web, and mobile devices. Says Arora, “We are essentially integrating and expanding many of the tools and platforms that we have built in the past to create a publishing solution. As cost and time-to-market become more critical, we expect a part of the publishing world to move to this platform.”
MPS, which is listed on India’s major stock exchanges, is 76% owned by ADI BPO Services Private Limited. However, a merger with ADI BPO/Neuetype is currently not in the cards. MPS will continue operating as it is, while according to Arora, “Neuetype, a niche content player, will continue to provide services to school, college, and professional publishers. ADI BPO, on the other hand, is a contact center in the city of Dehradun, 240 kilometers north of Delhi. At some point in the future, MPS may share some of ADI’s resources. As of now, MPS already has six large production facilities in Bangalore, Chennai, and Delhi with 2,500 employees. The additional Dehradun facility will, however, provide us with a competitive advantage and space for future growth.”
Anticipation of production costs and attrition rates creeping up in Chennai prompted Lapiz to set up another office in Ranipet, 110 kilometers to the west, about seven years ago. Today, there are more than 300 employees at this facility, equipped with the same skill sets as the Chennai production site. “Since Ranipet is surrounded by colleges of science, engineering, and humanities, recruitment is easy, and the attrition rate is quite low in such a small town. It is a win-win solution,” says COO V. Bharathram.
Lapiz has seen an increase in whiteboard projects in the past year. “So far, we have developed IWB projects for Promethean ActivBoard and SMART Board,” Bharathram says. “Promethean comes with more advanced technology and software, and is portable with better online support. From a teacher’s point of view, however, both whiteboards share the same functionalities and their tools are similarly versatile.” Web-based whiteboard development is more complex, he adds. “The development—say, of e-text, HTML, or Flash components—is carried out by a production team, whereas product testing is done either by a different team from the same vendor or by a different vendor. Such work division is natural, as programmers know how to make a functionality work, while test engineers have a better perspective of what might go wrong with that functionality. Having the same vendor for development and testing means a single point of accountability. But some clients prefer to do multisourcing to separate development from testing.”
His main focus in 2012, adds Bharathram, is to enhance Lapiz’s EPub 3 and HTML5 capabilities. “Flash is certainly on its way out, replaced by HTML5, which allows for more interactivity, animation, and media support. By combining EPub 3 with HTML5, we can provide rich-media experience and interactivity, layout enhancements, global language support, and improved accessibility. It would enable functions such as video and audio embedding, metadata, hyperlinking, navigation, scripting, text-to-speech, and dynamic layouts. But not all browsers support HTML5, and it is still a work in progress. For school projects, which is our core segment, both EPub 3 and HTML5 can be used based on client requirements.”
But whether the project is a whiteboard, school textbook, or e-book project, the trend is to use fewer templates, says Bharathram: “Clients are cutting down on the number of templates to reduce cost and time-to-market. For us, the solution is simple: what the client wants, the client gets—as long as it does not compromise the quality of the end product.”
Integra Software Services
Integra’s acquisition of Elm Street Publishing and Silver Editions (in 2007 and 2009, respectively) speaks volumes about its U.S. focus. “Having built a solid foundation in the higher-ed and pre-k segments through these acquisitions, we have now augmented our management team with several industry experts,” says founder, managing director, and CEO Sriram Subramanya. He has brought on board Don Lankiewicz (v-p for k–12 publishing services), Jeff Dinardo (v-p for creative design and imagery services), Frankie Wright (director for editorial and innovation), Christine Sandvik (director for instruction and interactive design), George Duda (director for k–12 sales), Cathy Pare (director of rights and permissions), and Amy Boilard (manager for key accounts).
A few of these appointments are tied to Integra’s new services, such as permissions management. “Our team is well versed in copyright laws, with over 20 years of experience in handling high-volume text and image research and permissions. Whether it is obtaining permissions or negotiating fees, we have it covered,” adds Subramanya, who plans to put this service online to facilitate access and tracking by clients.
At its full-fledged audiovisual division, preproduction services (ideation, scripting, and storyboarding) are now offered along with shooting in HD, HDV, and DV formats. “Our services range from simple editing to high-end 2-D and 3-D animation and composition, besides CD and DVD authoring, duplication, and streaming. We use Nuendo and Pro Tools for editing, mixing, encoding, and restoration [of audio], and we have talented voice-over artists and music and sound effect libraries,” says Subramanya.
Total Project Management (or E2E), on the other hand, is a premium service for large customers, “which takes the whole project off the publisher so they can focus on their core competencies.” The team is currently working with a U.S.-based global information services and publishing company and two multinational publishers. Also new from Integra is game-based learning, which uses competitive situations and scenarios to motivate learners of all ages to challenge themselves.
The past few months also saw plenty of accolades for Integra. Its iHelp app, which enables researchers to do keyword searches in native languages, won the Popular Choice Award and came in third in Elsevier’s Apps for Science Challenge contest. Joint managing director Anuradha Sriram was named one of the Business Wizards of Tamil Nadu, and Subramanya received the Pathfinders Award from the Times Group of India for his contribution to the region’s ITES/BPO industry. The company also took the Best Talent Management Award at the 22nd World HRD Congress in Mumbai.
Listed in EContent magazine’s 100 Top Companies in the Digital Content Industry (again) and KMWorld magazine’s 100 Companies That Matter in Knowledge Management, Innodata is one of the two Inkling partners to provide digital content production services utilizing Inkling Habitat. The team has also helped two of the world’s largest media companies create leading digital products, one of which recouped its investment in less than two months.
“This year may prove to be the tipping point in the development and distribution of media-rich interactive content. With the new iPad, Inkling, and many other platforms using enhanced processing and high-definition interfaces, digital textbooks, cookbooks, and children’s books will take a significant leap forward in their multimedia capabilities,” says senior v-p for sales and marketing Jim Lewis, adding, “this trend is not limited to publishing and media organizations. Multimedia content will become a part of customer engagement strategies for leading companies in industries such as high-tech software, hardware, manufacturing, and financial services.”
The apps market is only one of the many delivery channels for content. “Although we have helped many companies develop app solutions, what we are really interested in is the market beyond that. This is where new ways of monetizing content beyond straightforward apps are to be found, and that is where we are engaged with our customers,” says Lewis. “Up till now, the notion that content is separate from the delivery mechanism, i.e., print, was the standard. In reality, content is wrapped in software, and the distinction is blurred. In order to support the new marketplace for highly interactive, vibrant, and real-time content, software systems must be designed to support the creation of that content, and developers must be able to anticipate developmental needs in terms of talent, skills, experience, and methodologies. India is certainly one place that can amply meet these two needs.” (And India is where Innodata has two facilities staffed by a 2,100-strong workforce.)
Innodata, Lewis says, will continue to provide strategic support to media, entertainment, and publishing industry leaders as they tackle tasks such as new product development, tablet and e-platform transformation, and content monetization. “We will also be working more with organizations to solve enterprise content challenges in software, hardware, manufacturing, financial services, insurance, and other areas where rapid digital adoption has changed the business requirements for effective customer engagement.” Additionally, the IADS (Innodata Advanced Data Solutions) division will design products for broad application “to help companies outside the information and publishing industries adapt to the realities of the digital revolution.”
Gantec Publishing Solutions
Established eight years ago as a division of Chicago-based Gantec Corporation, the firm’s background in software services has served it well. “We fully understand the challenges faced by the publishing industry in adopting technology that is constantly changing,” says CEO Ramana Abbaraju. “Using our technology expertise, we are able to provide digital transformation consulting services and act as technology partners to our publishing clients. Today, we are one of the leading solutions providers capable of building e-commerce platforms for selling content built on HTML5 and EPub 3 standards. We consider our technology expertise the biggest differentiator between us and the competition.”
Nearly 70% of Gantec’s sales come from the U.S., most of it from the elhi segment. A 300-strong production team supports its U.S. delivery center. “Global delivery with local touch is our mantra, and publishers choose to work with us because we offer a complete end-to-end solution covering traditional prepress services, digital media solutions, and distribution.” Gantec also works on apps—for both iOS and Android platforms—and Abbaraju sees “the market moving toward an apps subscription model versus outright purchase. No one, it seems, wants to buy content, but people are prepared to pay for subscription in order to receive content.”
Gantec’s 10-month-old division, eBooks2go.net, is a first for a content services provider. Aimed at making online publishing easy and simple for independent authors and publishers, its services range from e-book conversion to e-distribution through retail partners. Today, the site receives on average 200 e-book conversion projects per month. “Presently, we are one of the few that specialize in all three major categories of services—e-books, enhanced e-books, and e-book apps,” adds Abbaraju, whose team developed an e-book app reader that supports multiple input file formats, such as PDF, Word, and XML, and publishes the content as iOS and Android e-book apps. Upon client approval, the e-book is published on Apple’s App Store and Google Apps Marketplace for access by readers worldwide. The client can then monitor and track its sales on eBooks2go on a daily, weekly, monthly, or quarterly basis. Partnership is crucial to eBooks2go, which shares costs and profits with clients. Says Abbaraju, “We have partnered with leading publishers such as Marshall Cavendish, Cengage Learning, Pear Jam Books, and Windy City Publishers, and the list is growing every day. As of now, independent authors make up 60% of our business.”
This year, Gantec will have a new facility in Tirupati (150 kilometers from Chennai), which will accommodate more than 500 employees and function as eBooks2go’s main production center. Adds Abbaraju, “We will also be launching in May a cloud-based e-reader store that supports several mobile platforms, including iOS, Android, and Windows. This will enable eBooks2go to offer authors and publishers higher royalties than Amazon and other retail stores.”
DiTech Process Solutions
DiTech’s conversion services segment has seen increased demand in recent months, especially after the launch of EPub 3 as the standard format for e-publishing. “I am also seeing more projects and inquiries for e-books, especially enhanced e-books, across the STM and children’s segments,” says founder and CEO Nizam Ahmed. “It looks like publishers are no longer content with simple conversion of print into PDF for their hardcover titles. They are moving away from conventional e-books and exploring versions with rich multimedia, animation, interactivity, and all the works. We will certainly see more innovation and evolution in e-books, making them much more attractive and appealing to readers.”
As one of the few vendors that have gone into less established markets (such as Australia and New Zealand), DiTech has been getting more active in the Middle East. “Digital publishing is just beginning in this oil-rich region and is proving to be a big potential market for us. Per capita device usage is high, and publishers are keen to digitize children’s and religious titles.” The younger generation, adds Ahmed, is looking for content beyond the type that their parents are accustomed to, “leading to the proliferation of blogs and other social media. A new wave of publishers focusing on high-value content has also emerged. We are eager to broaden our presence in this market and cater to their publishing needs with our experience and domain expertise.”
Seeking out new markets and establishing new clients in existing markets is just one of Ahmed’s 2012 goals. “We are also looking into developing our domestic market. While India leads the world as a publishing services provider, the domestic publishing industry is still at a developing stage. India’s digital publishing industry needs a push, and we intend to play a critical role as a technology partner to help Indian publishers enrich their customers’ reading experience.”
But rapid technological advances and changing consumer demands pose new challenges. Adds Ahmed, “It is no longer enough to be tech savvy and able to do elaborate coding. Any vendor thinking of staying in the game and grabbing a bigger slice of the pie has to work on services, and that is another of our 2012 goals: a renewed focus on services, be it adding new solutions to our portfolio, creating high-value content, developing ancillary products, or enhancing mobile apps.”
For diacriTech, creating its own ERP (enterprise resource planning) system makes perfect sense to executive v-p B. Mahesh. “We could not find an off-the-shelf system that would fulfill the varied requirements of a full-service provider, or one that could be hooked to a publisher’s content management or production management system. So we developed our own from scratch based on what we need and must have.” The ERP system boasts features such as project logging, auto/manual manpower allocation, work-flow charting according to client requirements, project tracking, version control, production tracking, performance analysis, human resource planning, business analytics, and proactive alerts on delivery projections (based on real-time data management vs. planning).
Executive v-p A.R.M. Gopinath is seeing more demand for cloud-based technologies and custom publishing. “The two do go together at times. For instance, we have developed several cloud-based portals for custom publishing. We store the content from various projects in XML formats on the portals, and end users across the globe can search the repository to create customized titles with different chapters from different books by the same publisher. Such portals enable instant electronic delivery, such as moving print-ready content to print-on-demand partners. The technology we develop also enables the generation of fresh indexes, tables of contents, and other front matter components for the customized title on the fly.”
Another interesting trend, adds Mahesh, is the adaptive learning route many publishers have taken. “Traditionally, content is organized as chapters with multiple learning objectives. But the rise of customized titles has seen publishers looking at learning objectives differently. Our team, for instance, has reorganized—and at times rewritten—content pedagogy specifically for print-ready files or e-delivery formats.”
Certain publishing segments, meanwhile, are getting sophisticated to deal with multiplatform delivery. Dictionaries, for instance, offer highly structured content with different elements requiring extensive and varied styling. “Dictionary publishers need their content to be styled elaborately to ease their work flow. So each term has several tagging elements within it. In fact, the more granular the styling, the better the dictionary’s content utilization and delivery.”
This year, more content development will be done from India. “We have invested heavily to raise the number and quality of people in our facilities. Editorial, fact-checking, supplementary material production, and so on have all along been done here. But of late, publishers are pushing to take it to the next level by having tasks such as item writing and supplementary material development done in India too.”
Datamatics Global Services
Vice-chairman and CEO Rahul Kanodia is busy exploring opportunities to further fortify his company’s domain expertise in specific business segments. “Under consideration and evaluation are expansion plans for our digital publishing and retail (DPR), financial and accounting, and content and document management businesses. We are in dialogue with a few BPO companies about acquisition, but it is premature to talk about these at this moment.” Last year, Datamatics made two acquisitions: U.S.-based CIGNEX, a leading open-source solutions company focusing on enterprise portals, content management, and document management, and Bangalore-based Vista Infosystems, a professional services company focused on embedded markets in the automotive, aeronautics, and consumer electronics industries.
At the same time, Kanodia is looking into leveraging cloud-based computing technologies. “Cloud computing, still one of the biggest buzzwords in the technology industry, is gaining momentum. Increasingly, enterprises of all sizes are embracing it. Currently, we offer several cloud-based solutions for work-flow management, billing, and social collaboration. Our clients have benefited immensely from these solutions, which improve resource utilization and offer quick adaptability for dynamic scalability, resulting in cost reduction and increased profitability.”
Over in Puducherry, Datamatics’s new state-of-the-art delivery center now has a team of 200-plus people focused primarily on understanding the evolving needs of publishers and e-retailers, and developing DPR solutions for such clients globally. “There are many platform-based solutions and products that will simplify their lives, and we would consider offering such solutions in open source and proprietary technologies,” says Kanodia, who also plans to focus more on Europe in the coming year. Last year, he set up a delivery center in Bosnia, attracted by the country’s strategic location, geopolitical stability, and good infrastructure. “It is an excellent location for scaling up our European operations. The team there provides support to our customers in all European languages and a few Asian ones as well. Gradually, I see this center gaining traction with increased service offerings and new clients.”
Adds Kanodia, “Publishers are looking for companies that can help them migrate structured and unstructured content to platforms that would meet readers’ changing preferences. At the same time, readers today want to access content in any form anywhere and anyhow. Traditional publishing service providers would find it rather challenging to meet these requirements. And this is where an IT and KPO company like Datamatics can help the client. With our technology and domain expertise, we are able to enhance productivity across the enterprise by using content services and information management systems.”
Established in June 2002 and headquartered in Pennsylvania, codeMantra operates in seven states across the U.S. and has client service, production, and sales staff based in the U.K., Italy, and Spain. Together, its three production facilities in Chennai, Vellore, and Coimbatore have nearly 1,250 people. The U.S. currently accounts for 80% of its business, and a little more than 50% of its revenues come from e-book creation and conversion.
Currently, codeMantra has 42 publishers, mostly university presses, using its Web-based digital asset management and distribution platform, cP3.0. “At present, cP serves as a repository for postproduction print files, the source for all digital derivatives, and a digital warehouse,” says Walter Walker, executive director of the publishing services division. “We are in the final stages of releasing the Title Management module, which will extend the cP platform further upstream to accommodate key publishing processes and work flows, including contract management, royalty management, rights management, production scheduling, plus sales and marketing scheduling and tracking. It will be fully integrated with other cP components and applications, including digital distribution and tracking, widget creation and analytics, catalogue creation, and of course, our latest offering of cP Metalogic, which is an ONIX-driven metadata management and configuration module.” (The full title management module will be launched at the Frankfurt Book Fair.)
Requests from publishers for different versions of essentially the same PDF files for their various aggregators and retailers also prompted codeMantra to create uPDF. “Some required individual chapters bookmarked along with a linked table of contents and an index. Some wanted bilateral links. A few asked for a searchable text layer, while others require low-resolution images,” Walker says. “Fulfilling these varied specifications was impractical and costly, and it occurred to us that a single PDF addressing all these requirements would be welcomed by publishers. Launched in 2005, uPDF has become an industry standard that meets the needs of Google Books, Amazon’s Look Inside, B&N’s book search, Kobo’s discoverability, Sony’s platform, and OverDrive’s specifications, to name a few.”
PubXML, on the other hand, is codeMantra’s generic and multipurpose approach to XML. It is essentially a data model (i.e., document type definition, or DTD) based on docBook. “Publishers new to XML should start with pubXML, an all-encompassing data model that can be pared down over time by eliminating superfluous tags,” adds Walker, whose team also helps publishers analyze their content and establish a starting point in developing the appropriate DTD. “This year, we plan to expand our global distribution capabilities using cP Metalogic and improved delivery systems. An increase of 15% to 20% in our staff and capacity to meet the higher demand for our service is in the plan too.”
Cenveo Publishers Services
Acquired in August 2011, Pennsylvania-based Nesbitt Graphics now provides Cenveo with editorial development and design solutions for the higher education and school markets in the U.S. Atul Goel, Cenveo’s senior v-p of global operations and technology, says, “With the combined acquisitions of Glyph International and Nesbitt Graphics, Cenveo is now a leading provider of content services in the educational and STM segments.” Cenveo’s Global Content Services Group provides full-service publishing solutions and operates offshore composition facilities in Chennai, Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore, and four domestic content facilities in Richmond, Va.; Ephrata, Pa.; Columbia, Md.; and Ft. Washington, Pa.
Cenveo recently announced the establishment of the Publishing Lab. The lab combines members of the technology teams from all the facilities into a consolidated enterprise experienced in creating and developing solutions across publishing platforms. “This Publishing Lab will continue to develop solutions targeted at our customers’ needs,” says Goel.
Meanwhile, development is complete on a comprehensive e-learning creation and production module. Utilizing the expertise of its global resources, Cenveo’s e-learning module works with all types of content, including k–12, higher ed, and corporate training. The courses can run off the Internet or from any SCORM-based LMS (learning management system).
In addition, “Cenveo’s Mobile dPub enables publishers to distribute content on any mobile device via a browser-friendly interface. Using print PDF as the source file, it moves the content to iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets, smartphones, and desktops,” says v-p of operations Waseem Andrabi. Meanwhile, ePublish, a new e-book conversion platform, supports many source files, including XML, HTML, PDF, and application files, as well as enriched and interactive content. “This platform also supports graphics, math, and tables, and can be used for language conversion. There are also customizable tools that allow for template-specific conversions so that clients can have their e-books in the style and format that they want.”
Goel’s three main goals in 2012 are to help clients digitize their content, monetize it, and improve production efficiency. “Financial pressures remain strong, and publishers are trying to find ways to cut costs,” he says. “But the demand for technology-enabled solutions continues to grow. The role for Cenveo is to support publishers in their efforts to cut costs and implement the technology solutions that are critical to continued growth, including coming up with solutions to reduce turnaround time, repurpose content for multiple uses, and enable simultaneous content creation and delivery. All these combined would lower production costs while meeting varied customer demands.”
Aptara’s acquisition by the London-based publicly listed company iEnergizer in February has injected much “energy” into the firm. “We are enhancing our focus and strengthening our leading position in the industry. We now have even greater financial strength to invest in strategic growth initiatives, including acquisitions,” says president and CEO Dev Ganesan, who is looking forward to utilizing iEnergizer’s high-end call center and back-office support from its India and Mauritius operation centers. “With enhanced customer support, transaction processing, and billing services, we can provide a truly end-to-end solution for publishers that encompasses business operations and content production.”
Tapping into India’s key skilled labor areas has been on Ganesan’s to-do list for some time. “Our strategy in India is to be geographically diversified with production sites in New Delhi and Dehradun in the north, Trivandrum in the south, and Pune in the west. We are replicating our successful operational model across the country. Last year, we opened our new Pune facility in a modern high-tech office park where the majority of our instructional and creative designers are based. Our next phase of operational expansion will be outside of India in the Pacific Rim.” With iEnergizer’s operations in the equation, Aptara can also count on the French-speaking Mauritius as a base.
“Our dedicated digital textbook design and production center, initially built for Inkling, has given Aptara a strong foothold in the educational publishing sector at a time when the market needs it most,” adds Ganesan. “This center capitalizes on our strength in full-content life cycle management. We are developing content, designing and enhancing it, and producing it for digital products ranging from textbooks to supplemental teaching and assessment resources. We are working to redefine not just textbooks but also digital resources—whether it is sheet music that you can listen to, Shakespeare coming to life through videos of professional stage productions, quizzes with immediate feedback for testing knowledge, or 3-D interactive images of almost anything science related. And as digital media further levels the playing field, this production center will be a boon to all publishers who want to produce engaging, rich-media content.”
Ganesan notes that a future growth area for Aptara is digital rights and permissions management—a critical need yet an unwieldy task that has caught many publishers off guard. “Our subject matter expertise together with our honed research processes and outsourcing methodologies make Aptara uniquely qualified to take this responsibility off publishers’ hands by moving these processes offshore for significant time and cost savings.”
Ranked #7 in the 2010 Black Book of Outsourcing, Amnet was the only publishing services provider on the Global Top 50 list, which was compiled based on a client satisfaction survey of 2,751 IT-outsourcing companies. “Customer service and relationship development are our key differentiators. We are willing to do what it takes to help our clients grow—because when they grow, we grow,” says North American sales director Molly Redenbaugh, pointing to the company’s 97% client retention rate as further proof of its outstanding service record. Her team handles customer service, sales, marketing, and editorial project management out of the one-year-old Urbana, Ill., office.
Customer service is exactly what an ongoing six-year-old project from a self-publishing client requires most. “We started with formatting just 20 titles monthly to doing more than 500 titles, fiction and nonfiction, that average 100,000 pages per month. Using source files in Word and InDesign, our team has to format, proofread, make corrections, convert images, and provide final PDFs for print and e-book versions for each title within eight working days. To speed things along, we developed project management tools to track e-mail notifications for each title through a Web portal that is maintained by our client and constantly updated by our production team. The big challenge is in understanding the client’s correction requests. So we jointly developed a soft-proofing process to eliminate any gaps in understanding the correction requests and to track each request throughout the work flow. The tracking logs are validated and sent along with the proof files once a title is completed,” explains Redenbaugh.
For CEO Aashish Agarwaal, relationship enrichment is the key to the future. A multimedia department, headed by an expert with 14 years of experience in the animated film and gaming industry, has just been started. “Such services are something that we envision more and more publishers will soon utilize. We have done a fair amount of work in the children’s segment, and we anticipate higher growth for enhanced e-books and multimedia projects within the next few years. We are also working on how to best leverage our worldwide editorial resources for content aggregators and publishers on a global scale.”
Recently, Amnet opened a new Chennai facility, its fifth site. Nicknamed “Energie,” the facility houses executive offices and a production space that can accommodate up to 450 full-time employees. Purpose-built, it is designed to provide the company’s premedia and magazine divisions with calibrated lighting for reviewing high-end illustrations and photographs.
PW Talks with Samudra Sen
Customers are getting more sophisticated in their expectations of online learning, according to CEO Samudra Sen of LearningMate (still the only major e-learning player to focus on the educational seg- ment). “Demand for a more integrated and holistic learning experience is growing. For instance, e-books need more interactive features with social learning constructs built around them to allow learners to share notes while reading, view peer comments, or read syndicated content from third- party sources,” he says. There is also a shift to activity-based assignments (learn by doing) that require learners to access relevant material in order to complete the activity, thereby letting them explore the topic. Per- sonalized learning based on sophis- ticated analytics engines and efforts to predict learning preferences using statistical models, he adds, are getting more common. What else is happening? Sen shares more insights and news.
What do you think of EPub 3 and HTML5?
With Flash on its way out, most publish- ers are facing a significant legacy conver- sion problem, since their assets need to keep up with emerging technology stan- dards such as HTML5. Similarly, EPub 3 is the emerging standard for creating media-rich interactive e-books, whereas EPub 2 is mostly for static e-books. I think that there is going to be a convergence of standards or defini- tion of interoperability standards for e-books very soon. Our focus at LearningMate is on creating quality learning experiences built around the book. We have seen a big increase in HTML5 conversion projects from higher ed, STM, and k–12 clients in the past six months, besides specialized apps for their titles. To meet the demand, we have upgraded our ICE [Instructional Content Editor] platform to enable a large degree of templating and auto- mation for such conversions, which in turn leads to huge efficiency improvement and cost savings.
How about cloud-based technologies?
Today, most RFPs [requests for proposal] ask for cloud- based implementation, and this technology is becoming increasingly important. We have moved everything— mobile and enterprise applications—to the cloud, and use Amazon Web Services to support our own products such as GoClass and Learning eXchange.
What is GoClass?
This is a cloud-based solution that works on tablets and mobile devices, and you can download the app from the Apple App Store. With GoClass, students interact direct- ly with teacher-curated content and benefit from a one- on-one learning experience. Teachers, on the other hand, receive instantaneous attendance and class participation data, real-time comprehension results with detailed ana- lytics, and out-of-classroom usage information. The GoClass app has been downloaded for use by more than 700 schools and educational institutions.
And what about Learning eXchange?
This platform offers a holistic learning experience where social learning and collaboration principles are built around learning objects that students interact with. It also links each object with related articles, blogs, posts, and discussions so that the learner can delve deeper. The learning object can therefore be enriched over time as learners and instructors contribute additional related material, creating a current and dynamic content repository.
What else have you been up to?
We have significantly expanded our edi- torial services for digital products, invest- ed in work-flow management tools, and CMMI Level 5 processes. We also did a huge amount of vocational training courses for two large educational publishers. And over in the U.S., our team is involved in a complex statewide technology project.
Are you able to elaborate on that project?
It is a technology rationalization project. Vendors will put the applications they offer on a cloud-based platform, such as administrative, teaching and learning systems, back- office, etc. School districts or the state can then decide which applications to use and which to retire. Our team is now auditing all applications to make the platform more efficient and smart. We are also working on business intel- ligence, analytics, and IIS [instructional improvement systems] to raise learning effectiveness across state- and district-level schools.
Any major plans for 2012?
The new facility being built in Rajarhat, Kolkata, will allow us to increase our staff strength from the present 450 to 600 at the beginning of 2013. Our U.S. team will also expand from the current 30 people to 50. We are seeing very strong organic growth, which should match the more than 50% growth that we enjoyed last year.
PW Talks with Gurvinder Batra
When mobile apps first appeared on the scene, trade books were the second-largest category after games for KiwiTech, says cofounder and CTO Gurvinder Batra. “Other publishing segments did not see the iPod and iPhone as viable media for delivering content,” he says. “But the iPad changed all that, and journal, medical, and children’s pub- lishers are going for mobile apps in a big way. For journals, publishers and societies find apps a very efficient way to reach out to their subscribers, who in turn find it easy to access critical information and updates with the iPad, wherever they are.” PW asks Batra for more updates and insights on the mobile space.
What other industry changes do you see?
Children’s publishers have been steadily embracing apps, since parents love interactive storybooks and adaptive learning resources for their kids. The corporate sector is also coming into the picture, using apps to convey the latest product information, provide interactive training, and for other organizational functions. I expect to see the new iPad with its higher-resolution screen, which has drastically improved image and video quality, to have an even bigger impact on medical publishing. Android is also becoming popular. We get requests for Android for every three out of five apps that we develop. The impact of Windows 8 on the tablet market is something that we are eager to find out.
Has KiwiTech developed any interesting apps recently?
The American Chemical Society’s C&EN app comes to mind. It is a weekly magazine app that is updated every Monday. The content is rich in text, images, and videos, and the app has RSS feeds of the latest news, CENtral Science feed, and jobs in the chemical industry. It features very simple navigation, easy content access, and an attrac- tive user interface and experience, among others. This app has been named the eProduct/Best in Physical Sciences and Mathematics by the Association of American Pub- lishers. Another app, MSK Injections, is based on the textbook of the same title. It contains only about 40% of the book’s content, but offers a lot of videos on adminis- tering injections.
Could you give an example from the children’s segment?
Ruckus Media Group’s My Little Pony is a good one. It injects interactivity into a traditional storybook. Parents can read the story to their kids or let their kids read it on their own through audio sync. There are lots of videos integrated into the app, and kids can play and learn through story-related activities. Future app enhancements will include connecting these activities to a back-end server for adaptive learning.
How do EPub 3 and HTML5 figure in your app projects?
The biggest advantage of EPub 3 is that now we can have a single archive for text and multimedia components rather than having to combine them separately. In the case of HTML5, portability is the biggest advantage, especially for producing apps across platforms. We can structure the app in HTML5 and then use a framework to create a native app. But HTML5 remains device and browser dependent, and apps developed for Android require a lot of testing for all devices.
How is KiwiTech doing since your 2009 launch?
We have more than 150 staff now and continue to focus on the mobile platform, even though our team is increas- ingly involved in mobile front-end and back-end applica- tions—basically, building the complete ecosystem. It has been an interesting journey that went from a small Wash- ington, D.C., office with one developer when our first app was built in March 2009 to the current vibrant New Delhi office. We emphasize a culture of creative freedom, and everyone seems to be having a lot of fun. In fact, we just came back from a company trip to Chahl near the Himalayas—with five busloads of people.
What are your plans for 2012?
We have been doing very well in the publishing sector. Our understanding of content has certainly differentiat- ed KiwiTech from other industry players. Internally, we have recently expanded our sales team from four to eight persons, and we are looking at further growth in the coming months. We are also adding many new verticals to our portfolio, including corporate, health, and government.
Online Coverage of the Content Services Industry
The following articles are available online in conjunction with this print report:
PW Talks with Jan Barsnes of eBokNorden and Prograph (on outsourcing to India and the state of the e-book industry in Scandinavia)
Vendor Selection 101 (featuring 12 crucial steps in selecting your vendor)
Visit www.publishersweekly.com/ContentServices2012 for continuing coverage on the content services industry.
New articles and q&as with vendors and publishers will be added every other week starting from April 23.