This being Generation Flux, perpetual innovation and transformation are imperative, and competitive advantages are, at best, fleeting. Continuous value creation and higher engagement—at lower cost and faster speed and with improved quality—is the key to business longevity. No wonder present-day characteristics of digital solutions, workflows, and platforms cover adjectives from A to Z, with emphasis on agnostic, cloud-based, customizable, design-centric, efficient, innovative, measurable, and smart. And not forgetting Zen-like simplicity and sophistication.
So, though nobody had predicted an App Store, a Google driverless car, Leap Motion, or Oculus Rift, these are definitely the results of innovative thinking and retrofitting of old ideas to suit a world in flux. For digital solutions providers big and small, in India or elsewhere, being nimble and flexible applies to strategic initiatives and synergistic offerings for their publishing clients—and their clients’ end consumers.
Automating for Faster Time to Market
Publishers’ relentless drive for the shortest possible time to market and “the need to have content in multiple formats at lower costs has resulted in vendors’ shifting their focus from wage arbitrage to one that emphasizes workflow and data management efficiencies,” says Vinit Khanna, the founder and CEO of OKS Group.
In other words, automation is a mandatory process in the digital solutions industry. Aaltech Group director P. Shivaalkar finds that “it is even better if content customization and personalization is also automated to generate maximum efficiency while reducing time to market. And these are exactly the type of solutions we offer—by capitalizing on our IT strengths to meet clients’ specific needs. We have reduced manual intervention by half in some processes while ensuring 100% quality delivery.”
In fact, automating full-content tagging and extraction irrespective of the structure and language of the input is becoming crucial, says Nakul Parashar, v-p for enterprise content management of SourceHOV. “Publishers are invariably looking at achieving high quality, better project management, faster turnaround times, and content repurposing at much lower costs,” Parashar says. “Cost reductions have, in fact, become critical to survival for many publishing clients. At SourceHOV and our sister company Rule 14, the deployment of our enterprise-wide and AI-based solutions has proven successful in helping publishers achieve their goals.”
Today, publishing processes are completely technology-driven. “Cloud-based digital publishing workflow, automated composition system, online smart editing, and machine language learning are some examples,” says Vinay Singh, executive director of Thomson Digital, adding that “the drive to meet end users’ dynamic requirements are essentially changing the publishing paradigm while exerting tremendous cost pressures.”
So, yes, the business model in which publishers opt for low-cost outsourcing destinations is definitely outdated, Singh says. “The larger publishing houses are already focused on simplifying their processes and requirements so as to aid automation while ensuring predictable outputs at much lower costs,” he adds. “To this end, publishers and solutions providers are working collaboratively to mutually benefit from automation and technology adoption.”
Embracing the New Teamwork Concept
A consultative stance in which publishers discuss their digital strategies with solutions providers and build digital products collaboratively works better in the longer term for both parties. “This is even more critical at the product-design phase, when budget, development timeline, launch date, and target devices have to be addressed as early as possible,” says Indira Rajan, CEO of Lapiz Digital Services, adding that many of the company’s products and solutions “are bundled with support packages so that if a file format becomes obsolete, it can easily be upgraded to a higher version or converted to a new format, such as from Flash to HTML5.”
At Newgen KnowledgeWorks, the philosophy has always been to function as an extended arm for clients by forming dedicated teams with client-specific training, creating technological solutions, and offering a complete range of services, from content authoring to discoverability. “Our approach is to be a reliable partner to our clients, and to build long-term mutually beneficial relationships; investing in technology to build easily scalable and cloud-based platforms has also enabled us to be an integrated technology-cum-service provider, giving us the ability to be a partner with deep engagements with clients,” founder and CEO Prabhakar Ram says.
Both journals and trade publishers have started to look for IT and platform solutions apart from general content solutions, says Vidur Bhogilal, vice-chairman of Lumina Datamatics. “Their preference is for a technology supplier with specific domain knowledge, and they have started collaborating with their suppliers to develop market-facing products. There is also considerable interest from publishers on managing rights and permissions, and their need for a workflow system to handle these issues.”
Tackling the Rights Side of the Business
The ever-changing technology and the demand for instant content access have tremendous implications for rights and permissions. “As recently as four years ago, rights were secured for specific products, territories, and user quantities,” says Jill Dougan, director of rights and permissions at MPS Limited. “Today, publishers are not only requesting permission for products they have planned, but also for those that are yet to be conceptualized, and sometimes for technologies that are still unavailable commercially. On the other hand, you have copyright owners who want to protect their IPs and require transparency when reviewing requests to use their content. The U.S. and European copyright laws meanwhile are undergoing progressive reforms as lines are drawn between content creators, providers, and users.”
MPS’s Rights & Permissions management platform, which is a module within DigiCore, has the capabilities to maintain a robust copyright owner database, generate customized correspondence and reports, and analyze and store granular data. “This cloud-based platform provides publishers with a quicker, better, and easier way to protect, monetize, and market their IPs,” CEO Rahul Arora says. “In times of depressed margins from book sales, print or digital, every bit of additional revenue counts, and this is just one of the ways we look out for our publishing clients.”
Gearing Up for More User Engagement
All other topics aside, revenue remains the biggest challenge, says M.V. Bhaskar, chief creative officer of TNQ. “But the issue of engagement has to be considered since it is the only thing that translates into revenue,” Bhaskar says. “Getting the right mix of engagement and big data, which will express the engagement tangibly and demonstrably, will—and should—lead publishers towards revenue.”
Unfortunately, STM publishers cannot provide readers with a viable alternative to PDF. “So readers access the publisher’s portal, download the required PDF, and then go away, which results in disengagement,” Bhaskar says. “The market needs more engaging ways to make readers read the PDF online, but that is just a half measure. We need HTML that has all the qualities of a PDF in terms of readability and portability. Such HTML can go beyond the PDF and deliver engagement metrics to publishers.”
Consumer engagement also means offering the right user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). “And as mobile devices get more sophisticated and screen sizes more varied, more thinking is going into the UI/UX development and impact for each app,” says Gurvinder Batra, CTO at KiwiTech.
“Publishers are not sure if their legacy content is worth converting or if they should just develop new product from ground up,” says Subrat Mohanty, CEO of Hurix Systems, pointing out that “many who started the conversion process early are almost done with everything that they thought worthy of conversion. And since their reason for converting legacy content is to make it mobile, enhancing the user experience—which should no longer be plain, or ‘flat,’ as in print books or journals—takes the center stage. That is where we come in with in-house UI/UX experts to design intuitive yet simple and efficient user experience for the end consumers.”
Facilitating Digital and Classroom Learning
Using mobile technology to engage and educate and turning classrooms into mobile-based interactive and self-paced learning environments is becoming the norm, says Khanna of OKS Group. “Publishers are revamping their content to make education an interactive process and coupling it with online assessment to monitor individual progress. It is about making history, science, and math theories come to life, which is what MarkSharks—our ‘flip classroom’ learning system based on mobile technology—is all about.”
Adaptive learning and, more specifically, personalized learning have been the most positive outcomes of digital learning, says Acky Kamdar, CEO of Magic Software. “Tailoring instructions to learners’ needs as Triumph Learning is doing with Waggle is a prime example. Then there is microlearning, which includes rolling out bite-sized chunks of content tailored to individual learner needs and attention spans. When combined with other content resources, microlearning will allow teachers to assemble instructional content themselves, thus empowering both teachers and learners. Khan Academy’s success, for instance, can be attributed to their focus on microlearning.”
Waseem Andrabi, senior director of global content services at Cenveo Publisher Services, says that “adaptive technology is set to become a transformative force as educators increasingly see it as an ally rather than an adversary. Virtual reality in education is the other juggernaut poised to take off in 2016. Whether it is taking a virtual trip near the North Pole to learn more about the aurora borealis or a visit to the chemical plant to witness a specific manufacturing process, virtual reality is going to make the educational experience truly ‘immersive.’ ”
Meanwhile, gamification will continue to gather momentum, and social learning is going to be the next big thing. “Social learning gives users the chance to share, comment, debate, and critique content, as with GitBook,” Kamdar of Magic Software says. “Liking some aspect of learning and sharing it with one’s community or group is extremely relevant in today’s heavily networked social communities.”
Building Accessibility and Efficacy in Education
Education specialists have raised issues and contributed ideas and innovations that will eventually have a broad impact across all publishing sectors, and accessibility is a hot topic, says Andrabi, of Cenveo Publisher Services. “EPub for Accessibility project, formerly known as EduPub, is an important part of this, and accessibility is no longer just about text-to-speech or audio access, but also to support alternate learning modes,” Andrabi says. “With this comes open annotation, or W3C specification, for personal accessibility on all Web-based technologies, as well as accessibility certification and testing. Publishers are realizing that it makes good business sense to offer content in as many ways as possible, including making it accessible.”
The movement in education is toward efficacy, primarily in creating measurable learning outcomes. “There is a need for blending technology and content,” says Bhogilal of Lumina Datamatics. “On one end, the content has to be tested, rigorous, and validated. On the other, technologies such as virtual reality simulation–based learning have to be merged with content in order to enhance learning. Then, the data coming back from the learner has to be evaluated for insight, remediation, and efficacy. There have been a lot of efforts to increase the learning outcomes.”
And with mobile devices making multitasking, content consumption, and learning on the go so much easier, the focus now will be on bundling diverse assets into applications that offer rich-yet-intuitive user experiences. “Such collaborative solutions will be the key to drive user engagement and implement social media strategies—right from user identification to social engagement to gamification,” says Uday Majithia, assistant v-p for marketing and presales at Impelsys. “Semantics will further help in building these collaborative experiences, bringing together content and learning from different sources directly to users in personalized streams.”
Semantic-assisted contextual authoring, automated editorial workflow solutions, and better content discoverability through machine learning algorithms will pave the way for future content development, says Majithia, whose team is currently pursuing effective partnerships in this service domain.
Discoverability and Monetization
For Bhogilal of Lumina Datamatics, “mobile technologies is not just about a way to access and distribute content over the Internet, but also for apps and services, which would not work without mobile technologies. In such cases, beacon technology is a likely solution, offering discoverability; time-, location-, and person-specific approach; and is suitable for activities such as marketing, content delivery, and sales.”
Content monetization through mobile apps continues to be a mixed bag, however. “Those on medical content seem to be much more successful. In fact, eight out of 10 products that we have built in publishing are for medical content, with the monetization coming mostly from advertisement,” says Batra, of KiwiTech, adding that “it is becoming more critical to provide a way for end users to access content from a mobile platform. There has been some shift towards using responsive Web instead of native mobile apps but these are early days.”
The differentiated and ever-changing nature of digital has formed the challenges faced by the industry, says Walter Walker, the president of CodeMantra. “The questions run the gamut: how to deliver a consistent XML or other digital output; how to improve content discoverability; how to publish more with fewer resources; how to manage concurrent print and digital production cycles in one workflow; and how to manage, record, analyze, and measure the impact of the work done. These are the questions that shaped the development of our flagship product, CollectionPoint, which is now at version 4.0.”
So, while most publishers have understood the possibilities for a digital product offering, what remains less certain, Walker says, is just how well a digital title will perform. “Sales reporting and analytics are needed to provide clients with a consolidated and comparative view of product performance—and this is a module that we are adding to CP 4.0 to eliminate much of the guesswork.”
And for the following 21 companies, including Walker’s, unlocking opportunities for publishing clients while minimizing the guesswork is really the only way to deal with a market in flux.
IT strengths have always been the hallmark—and backbone—of the nine-year-old Aaltech Group, which is headquartered in West Yorkshire, U.K. In fact, half of its business comes from IT projects, with the other half coming from publishing clients such as Grupo Santillana, Bookshaker, DCL, Flexedo, and Vielflieger-Verlag.
“Automation is the key in the modern business environment, and technology adoption is crucial in the publishing industry. For that, we have efficient and effective IT teams working in an agile manner to adopt the changes continuously. We have leveraged our IT strength to offer a multitude of tools to manage and automate publishing processes,” says director P. Shivaalkar, whose team converted more than two million pages last year. “Our workflow automation system handles the most common documentation issues, such as spacing, punctuation, hyphenation, and text styles, while our project-monitoring system provides real-time tracking and control of the whole process. Our conversion tools, meanwhile, can be used to generate ePub3-compliant files with native audio and video support. Images in PDFs, for instance, are automatically converted into SVG format for better scaling while math equations are rendered in MathML. These are just some of the processes that we have backed up and strengthened with our IT expertise.”
Through its offices in Australia, Germany, Spain, the U.K., and the U.S., Aaltech also offers multilingual content services for clients across the globe. “We handle Arabic-, Chinese-, Dutch-, French-, German-, Italian-, Japanese-, Spanish-, and Swedish-language projects and also function as QA partners for content aggregators in those languages,” Shivaalkar says.
Client-centricity is the goal, says Thiru Baskaran, Aaltech’s Chennai-based v-p for business development. “We understand that our business is driven by clients, and so our strengths are further enhanced and tweaked to suit their specific needs,” Baskaran says. “We provide end-to-end content management solutions, digital publishing, and data conversion for journals and book publishers across the globe. Delivering the best service through the most cost-effective manner is our focus, and over the years, we have grown both in capacity and capability to serve the publishing industry.”
Cenveo Publisher Services
The creation of the Publisher’s Office has provided Cenveo and its clients with a unique opportunity and increased flexibility to interact and collaborate. “We provide a combination of process, automation, validation, and ongoing technical support for production and management of books, journals, and digital projects. In essence, we become an integrated extension of a publisher’s team,” marketing director Marianne Calilhanna says, adding that Cenveo’s end-to-end project management for pre-K–12, higher education, and STM publishers has grown tremendously in the past year.
More publishers have turned to the Design Studio to turn ideas into assets, whether they are simple concepts for art or entirely new digital products. “At the same time, Cenveo Publisher Suite, with tools such as Smart Edit and Smart Proof, is more popular than ever. One of our major journal clients has installed Cenveo Publisher Suite for its internal staff use, and that implementation has resulted in a formal training program, documentation, as well as a stronger product,” Calilhanna says. “This is a classic case where a larger and diverse user base further improves the software.”
Then, there is the Lunch & Learn initiative, through which Calilhanna and her team bring together members of the publishing community to discuss important industry topics over lunch. “No sales pitches and no PowerPoint presentations here,” Calilhanna says. “This is lunch with passionate conversation on intricate and important topics that shape our industry. So far, we have talked about MathML, new journal publication models, and creative workflows. It has brought together leaders from the STM and educational publishing industry to network and learn from each other.” Two white papers, on NIMAS and MathML standards, respectively, were the results of this initiative, and are available from Cenveo’s website.
Increasingly, publishers are recognizing that “cheap is dear” and that great customer service is not only important to produce quality work but also makes the process enjoyable, Calilhanna says. “The proliferation of offshore vendors has brought pricing models down,” she adds. “While initially attractive, publishers are finding that thoughtfulness and editorial quality have been slipping away. With so much technology integrated into publishers’ workflows, it is easy to forget that human QA ensures premium editorial and production services. And this is why Cenveo, despite our technology-based processes, remains focused on hiring the best people to serve our clients.”
The latest version of CollectionPoint, CodeMantra’s flagship product, is not just an asset management distribution platform. It supports an entire publishing process from manuscript to delivery via one unified system. “Publishers told us about the challenges and aspirations driving their business, and we listened,” says chief product and technology officer Sanjeev Kalyanaraman, adding that his team set out “to use technology, automation, and process management, and relied on our deep publishing experience to design innovative solutions that improve the competitiveness of our publishing partners. The result is CP 4.0.”
The new platform delivers its services in three main categories. Collaborate—on CP provides an efficient collaboration tool for content development and aligns with any existing customer workflow, making it nondisruptive and highly cost-effective. The Manage—on CP suite, on the other hand, addresses major challenges in the management of vast amounts of metadata and product assets through various distribution and institutional channels, and uses a rich sales-reporting capability. Then there is Engage—on CP, which provides customer engagement that leverages the publisher’s intellectual property across services such as product catalogue generation, direct-to-customer delivery, and community engagement. “CP 4.0 is a scalable and fully configurable platform that meet the unique needs of a publisher through standardized modules,” says president Walter Walker, whose team “will continue to invest in CP, and actively pursue strategic alliances that will help to expand CodeMantra’s offerings to publishers.”
Meanwhile, CodeMantra’s Chennai production facility has undergone significant changes since the company’s 2014 acquisition by new investors and the introduction of new management. “To begin with, we introduced specific areas of accountability through a global project management office as well as continuous process improvement initiative,” Kalyanaraman says. “New processes and automated technologies to overhaul the content production were carried out without disrupting ongoing production and its quality.” Over the past year, CodeMantra’s operations team members have received training in process improvement (Six Sigma), agile technology (OpenStack security frameworks), and organizational governance (Program Management) and are applying their learnings to improve operations.
“With new processes and automation, we have more than doubled our productivity, and with improved quality too,” Kalyanaraman says. “The next 12 to 18 months are to continue investing in our people, technologies, and scale to meet business growth while maintaining our culture of innovation and accountability.”
Continuum Content Solutions
Continuum, which employs about 150 people, may be just 14 months old, but its founders—CEO Amit Vohra and COO Pawan Narang, formerly of Contentra Technologies—are definitely no strangers to the publishing and digital solutions industries.
Leveraging on their expertise and footprints in the magazine and newspaper digitization sector, both Vohra and Narang have developed a robust, agile, and seamless digital solution, called ContinuumX. “It accepts input file formats such as InDesign and PDFs, and converts them into Digital Replica files such as RePub, PRISM XML, and NITF XML that are compatible with leading e-newsstands,” Vohra says, adding that “Chinese, Japanese, and Korean languages are supported along with major European languages. But the best part of ContinuumX lies in its design and engine, which converts magazines and newspapers at higher efficiencies and with lower costs. In fact, our clients have experienced an average of 25% reduction in costs while maintaining high quality levels.”
ContinuumX’s publication management module also maintains production schedules, sends out friendly reminders when a publication’s on-sale date is approaching, and guarantees on-time delivery.
“ContinuumX’s efficiencies and language capabilities offer global distribution opportunities,” Narang says. “National libraries and publishers across the globe can take advantage of this solution to preserve and digitize their legacy data, especially now that we are providing the complete process that includes microfilm scanning, content refurbishing, digital data preservation, and Web-hosting solutions.”
For the next 18 months, the company is focused on ePub3 solutions, HTML5, and mobile content. “A company needs to evolve in order to stay ahead in this technology-intensive industry and tap into the productivity and expertise of the Millennial generation,” Narang says.
But it is not just about work at Continuum, which has a CSR initiative as ambitious as those found in much larger entities. “We believe in letting our staff know that they are working for something bigger than themselves, that our business is not one-dimensional, and, more importantly, that we care about people, especially those in our community,” says Vohra, whose employees take one Friday each month—Continuum’s “Social Day”—“to give back to the community through employee volunteerism and resources by working towards eradication of hunger and poverty, and promoting education to underprivileged children. Each Social Day has a different theme, allowing different departments to come together for a common cause.”
Dublin-based Deanta (which means full-fledged or complete in Gaelic) has always been run differently from its industry counterparts, says CEO Darren Ryan, who founded the company in 2011. “We believe strongly that the developments and changes within the publishing industry are more than just about traditional print to digital,” Ryan says. “It is about content rather than format, and content is fluid and not necessarily dictated by parameters such as page count. Therefore, it is important to address this in our service offering and consider the options of providing a full-fledged ‘partnership’ arrangement.”
It is about “resourcing”—as opposed to outsourcing—with the team positioned as an extension of the publisher’s production division, or, as Ryan puts it, “a resource on hand to tackle any and everything that they need.” At many vendors, individual staff members specialize in particular aspects of the publishing process, but Deanta staff is qualified to manage every aspect of the process. “Rigorous six-month in-house training regime aside, there is a strong emphasis on soft skills such as leadership, problem solving, communication, and decision making,” Ryan says. “Everybody is accountable for his or her work.”
Deanta clients are charged a flat monthly fee based on the required service level. “Not only does this make it easier for the publisher to budget, it recognizes that there is a different type of relationship at work,” Ryan says. “This also means that Deanta’s team of publishing professionals and a dedicated project manager are on hand at all times, regardless of what crops up.” However, Deanta does offer a tailored package solution in which services such as copy editing, proofreading, typesetting, artwork creation, indexing, and digital deliverables are charged on a per-page basis.
Every Deanta client also has access to Lanstad (which means period in Gaelic), a collaborative project management portal to organize the publishing process and enable streamlined communication. We have added milestone tracking, task tagging, XML content editing suite, content transformation engine, and digital asset management. Lanstad is also available as a SAAS [software as a service] offering for those wishing to use it to manage their production internally,” says Ryan, whose Chennai production facility, supported by teams in Ireland, the U.K., and the U.S., has worked with clients including Bloomsbury, CRC Press, Informa, Oikos, and Rowman & Littlefield.
“Publishers are increasingly looking at offshoring more editorial work,” says executive v-p A.R.M. Gopinath, whose team has shown significant savings in cost and time on clearing permissions and editorial processes. “At DiacriTech, we constantly strive to move up the skill levels as clients are trusting us to work not just on converting print books to digital, but also on storyboarding as well as creating digital-first titles, which are instrumental in driving print sales.”
Even though science and math projects are DiacriTech’s strong niches, more social sciences, literature, and religious titles are arriving at its doorstep for the creative process. “We have expanded our team to include developmental editors in charge of creating audio scripts for digital assets that we create to elaborate on a specific concept,” executive v-p Mahesh Balakrishnan says, adding that “several publishers are agreeable to using accent-neutral voice artists, but more often we have to go back onshore to our freelancers and teams for recording as the audio requires native speakers. But, no matter how the requirement goes, we manage the process end to end.”
This year is an exciting time at DiacriTech, Balakrishnan says. “We are hoping to bring a change in the way digital is presented to end consumers,” he adds. “We are tying up directly with institutions, and in partnership with publishers, to host and deploy content in an engaging way. This would make it more personalized to the institutions while at the same time utilizing existing content that publishers may already have. The institutions are more than willing to fund the project when the delivery mechanism is an engaging digital platform that will make a mark in the industry.”
Cloud-based solutions, Gopinath says, will be a trending topic in the industry in the coming years. “With capital expenditure still down, customers are increasingly asking for SAAS models and cloud-based solutions to repurpose content,” Gopinath says. “For publishers, it makes perfect business sense not to increase developmental costs while keeping zero inventory of print titles, and yet continue to do business and generate revenues. Publishers are also very open to revenue sharing in this space. We can deploy our cloud-based integrated platform, Ssparkl, which has solutions not just for authoring but also for delivering content directly to end consumers.”
Winning the coveted Brandon Hall Group Excellence award three years running is a huge endorsement—and boost—for Hurix and its flagship cloud-based digital publishing suite, Kitaboo, which has seen its user base grow by over 100% in the same period.
New features have been added to the Kitaboo platform to give clients more value for money: 100% ePub3 automated conversion, LTI compliance, and fixed and reflowable layout support. For clients, there is now Kitaboo LMS and a Kitaboo e-store, in addition to the Kitaboo Cloud solution.
“Kitaboo LMS is a cost-effective system that deploys e-learning content, manages learning administration, aligns learning processes with client requirements, provides blended learning, and creates a centralized learning and reporting platform,” CEO Subrat Mohanty says, adding that its most salient feature is in allowing organizations to scale up their LMS functionalities without incurring costly infrastructural investments. “It also enables social learning and tracks user engagement—which are in line with the requirements of the current technology-based education industry.”
Kitaboo’s e-store, which was launched last year, allows end users to read purchased e-books on white-labeled reader apps across multiple platforms. Aside from supporting the back-end processes of pricing and distribution, it manages the marketing side of the business through banners and promotional links, and supports multicurrency and geolocation services. “At the same time, by having a white-label e-bookstore, publishers do not have to pay commissions to third-party marketplaces such as Amazon and Google Play,” Mohanty says.
Kitaboo Cloud, as its name implies, is an e-book ecosystem through which publishers can create and enrich digital content and distribute it in multiple ways, and end users can consume it on readers on iOS, Android, Windows, and desktops. “It can be easily integrated with client system to distribute e-books using different licensing models,” Mohanty says. “It is our goal to provide as many ways as possible for publishers to disseminate and monetize their content easily and securely.”
By combining Kitaboo LMS and Kitaboo Cloud, “you can distribute multimedia content along with e-books and utilize the powerful group or classroom management features that have reporting and analytic functions. Furthermore, the integration allows one-click or one-tap book launch in Kitaboo reader apps from the LMS,” says Mohanty, whose clients include Hachette Livre/Grupo Anaya, McGraw-Hill Education, Pearson, and Scholastic Media.
A massive reengineering effort covering two major products—iPublishCentral (for e-book distribution) and KnowledgePlatform (content and learning solutions)—takes the center stage at Impelsys. “In line with our goal to provide a one-stop solution to publishers and to enable them to deliver any content and learning to their B2B and B2C markets, we have now placed KnowledgePlatform under the iPublishCentral suite umbrella,” says Uday Majithia, assistant v-p for marketing and presales.
The SAAS platform now comes in three versions: iPublishCentral Ebooks (with features such as white-label portal, built-in DRM, online and offline readers, apps, e-commerce, and analytics); iPublishCentral Enhanced (for complex and media-rich content delivery); and iPublishCentral Learn (to help publishers and educators transform their online learning delivery; supports SCORM, LTI, QTI, and other standards). All three can be seamlessly integrated with one another and with clients’ existing infrastructures.
The latest iPublishCentral Ebooks (version 7.0) addresses several unique challenges currently faced by publishers and learning providers, says Jagadesh Kumar, assistant v-p for content engineering. “This WCAG 2.0–compliant version offers solutions for video distribution, geography-based pricing for retail models, and right-to-left languages,” Kumar says. “We also add SCORM-compliant reader and Chromebook reader, with support for enhanced e-books distribution.”
Meanwhile, more than 450,000 professionals have completed various courses through iPublishCentral Learn in the past three months. “This platform is most suitable for medical publishers, enterprises, universities, and institutions offering online educational and professional courses,” Kumar says. “With built-in instructor and student dashboards, it allows instructor-led and instructorless learning either to replace or supplement traditional classroom training.”
Another new service is courseware development, in which Impelsys “offers development of interactive courses replete with ancillaries, assessments, and supporting media for deeper learner engagement and understanding. It is a world away from plain textbooks or journals,” says Kumar, whose team has already delivered several courses for clients in recent months.
Tapping into the growing trend of online learning in emerging markets is another expansion strategy. Impelsys’ three-year partnership with Bogota-based Hipertexto has seen a dozen Colombian publishers implement iPublishCentral. “In India, our local partner Global Information Systems Technology uses iPublishCentral to deliver scholarly content from global and Indian publishers to academic institutions and libraries across the subcontinent,” Majithia says. “Similar partnerships are expected in other parts of the world this year.”
Integra Software Services
This year, Integra’s digital focus is on offering innovative technology solutions and adding value by enhancing established products. Its Integrated Digital Publishing Ecosystem platform, for instance, has even more innovative features and tools to help publishing clients. “It can transform content to go anywhere—print, Web, tablet, or mobile,” managing director and CEO Sriram Subramanya says. “It can extract every bit of value from the content and put it in multiple media for access and discoverability.” Then there is iCorrectProof, which is lauded as one of the most comprehensive products for online journal proofing solutions for both publishers and authors.
Another new product from Integra is iPMS for project management that combines functions of Microsoft Excel, Project, Access, and SharePoint into a single application, and has proven to be effective in helping project managers achieve their project goals, and work with time and budget constraints.
iLancer facilitates on-boarding, planning, tracking, and rating of freelancers, and functions as a seamless interaction platform between freelancers and publishers. It encapsulates the critical solutions that the Integra team has developed in-house in order to deal with its own huge pool of freelancers in different areas.
Expansion and incubation are the other buzzwords at Integra. Its Chennai facility, which is located along the city’s technology corridor and can accommodate up to 3,000 people, currently houses instructional designers, media specialists, and those specializing in platform/mobile learning. “This facility is also the site of our innovation lab, which focuses on research, design, and innovation in content creation, delivery, and analytics for the education technology space,” Subramanya says. “This is a key investment that will drive the next phase of our strategic growth initiatives.”
Last year, a new office was also established in the U.K., specifically for business development and end-to-end project management. Now Integra has an experienced team capable of offering clients onshore project management from the U.K. itself. But, most importantly, its team now has access to a wide network of onshore freelance pool of developmental editors, copy editors, and design and illustration specialists through its offices in the U.K. and the U.S., supported by full project management and production teams in India.
The Web and mobile technology solutions provider KiwiTech made the last year about multiplatform and complex projects that spanned months of development. “We had to step up our game—pushing our limits in new technologies and tools—to be able to deliver the projects. Each of these projects was also from a different vertical, which gave us a broader experience,” CTO Gurvinder Batra says from his new office in Noida, which has a seating capacity for more than 450 people and nearly 20 meeting rooms with multiple recreational areas.
Batra says the relocation to the new office is in line with the company’s growth. “We have been growing very rapidly, adding 10 to 15 people every month,” Batra says. “The location, within walking distance from the metro station, is a boon to our employees while the open and modern office gives them a comfortable environment to generate ideas and execute projects.”
Meanwhile, KiwiTech’s startup model, in which it partners with selected technology startups, now has more than 60 companies on its roster, each from a different vertical. “We have had a lot of startups visiting us in the past year to work more closely with our teams, and this has helped us to build a better product for each of them,” Batra says. “We have also stepped up our ability to provide more funding to the startups in addition to providing the best technology and mentoring.” These startups include GlobeChat (a chat app that can translate more than 40 languages on the fly), Quantified Care (a complex health-care platform that connects patients to caregivers), Sensery (a financial portal that brings advisers closer to clients), Brillata (a hospitality platform that links back-end staff with front-end office), and SeeYouAll (an event management portal that provides solutions for monetizing and managing events).
“We still haven’t covered the full market yet,” Batra says. “We are now focused on getting some big enterprises in our portfolio. Today, enterprises are starving for innovation, and startups are a quick and solid solution for that. At KiwiTech, we see a big role for us to connect both parties. The challenges for us are to keep up with the expected level of quality services, understand a wide range of technology stacks, and create complex solutions.”
Lapiz Digital Services
Flash-to-HTML conversion is fast becoming a niche service at Lapiz, with more publishers requesting device-agnostic HTML5 files that are compatible with iOS, Windows, and Android platforms, including Google Nexus, Barnes & Noble Nook, Samsung Galaxy, and Amazon Kindle. “There are also a substantial amount of projects requiring HTML5 error-fixing—these are usually files built before the standard was finalized, and our team has to ‘normalize’ them,” CEO Indira Rajan says. “Some, which were school books, also had to be made Section 508–compliant for accessibility.”
The team is now focused on developing complex script-based HTML5 interactivity for e-books, mostly for the children’s segment. “We have built various HTML5-based e-tools and reusable interactivities that are also available as off-the-shelf products. In most cases, these are highly customizable and easily replicated for new titles or volumes in the same children’s book series, or when a title is translated into other languages,” Rajan says. “Such reusable and adaptable templated tools optimize the cost of production while reducing the turnaround time, and this is particularly appealing to midsized children’s book publishers who are not sure what they want for their limited budget.”
Lapiz has also developed a Moodle-based CMS with various e-tools specifically targeted at small and midsize publishers who are looking to leverage—and further monetize—their print content. “With many publishers joining the trend of developing e-learning courses from print products, we see them adopting CMS such as Moodle,” president V. Bharathram says. “And this is where we see our solutions offering these publishers added value and ease of content reusability. Ours is an off-the-shelf product that can be further customized to suit specific requirements.”
With publishers requiring both print and digital deliverables, quality control is also becoming increasingly important. “QC cost for a digital product is often higher than the production cost, as digital files need to be device-agnostic and QCed across many operating systems. At Lapiz, we have automated numerous QC tools for new media projects in order to rein in QC costs. Our familiarity with the QC process has brought in quality-auditing projects on content and learning management systems, archived typeset files, and fixing HTML5 bugs,” says Bharathram, whose team will be focusing on solutions for multilingual projects, Flash-to-HTML5 conversion, and EduPub in the coming months.
For the past three years, Lumina Datamatics has offered technology consultancy and workflow-improvement products, tools, and services that help publishers manage customer requirements in a fast-changing technology environment and stay competitive. “Today, we see ourselves as a company that assists clients to achieve their business objectives, attain superior results, and increase the engagement with their own customers,” vice-chairman Vidur Bhogilal says. “And we accomplish these through a combination of content and measurement methods and technologies.”
One of the technologies is CAPS (Content Authoring & Publishing System), which is an expansion and enhancement of an HTML5-authoring solution. By using CAPS, publishers use a single system to perform all production activities from content authoring to delivery. RightsPlatform, for instance, can be integrated into CAPS to monitor assets and acquire rights and permissions at the same system. “Having several automation tools and solutions integrated into CAPS saves time and speeds up the process,” Bhogilal says. “Our journal-publishing clients have found this cloud-based system easy to use and most accessible.”
Another new product is MarketWatch, a price-intelligence solution that monitors price, inventory, and promotions. “It offers flexible monitoring of aggregators, retail channels, and marketplaces, and reads across feeds and Web pages. It also works across geographic locations and multiple currencies. One large publisher in the U.S., for instance, uses it to track three different prices—when a title is sold as new or used, and when sold by a retailer,” Bhogilal says. “In another deployment, a U.K. distributor uses it to track and monitor prices across aggregators and online channels and to show an alert when the deviation was below the established base price.”
For Bhogilal and his management team, all these new products and solutions support the shift from being a cost-saving company to one that supports revenue generation. “Technology KPO is our goal, and increasing clients’ engagement with their customers is our focus,” Bhogilal says. “So, while we have the capabilities—and proven expertise—in producing engaging content, we want to focus on products and technologies that measure engagement. On the solutions front, we are building new platforms for publishing, LMS, rights and permissions, and assessment. As for the client engagement side, we are strengthening our reach in Europe, the U.K., and the U.S.”
For 25 years, Magic Software has been in the business of combining mobile and social learning for the K–12 market. The cloud-based platform MagicBox and the digital curriculum products developed for clients such as Cengage Learning, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Macmillan Education, McGraw-Hill, Pearson, and Wiley have been used and tested worldwide.
MagicBox, a digital content warehouse and distribution platform for Web- and mobile-based reading, is currently used by more than 600,000 students and teachers and offers at least 15 million page views and a million hours of book reading. MagicBox comes with an integrated conversion tool for simple one-click print-to-ePub conversion. “Unlike other K–12 platforms, MagicBox can host and support a variety of content types and assessments and enable easy self-registration and quick setup to go ‘live.’ It allows sales to multiple segments of users while meeting all industry standards, including COPPA [Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act],” COO Anuraj Soni says.
MagicBox also has built-in capabilities to track and analyze content consumption and control content access. The analytics function, Soni says, “helps our publishing clients to measure returns from each channel and to better manage and improve their content offerings.”
Testing is another niche solution at Magic Software. Almost one-third of the company—which employs about 430 people—is focused on testing and QA of education products, including content and technology platform testing. “For testing, our philosophy is to get engaged early on during the platform and content design and automation processes. We deploy two powerful in-house products, AppiTest and WebiTest, to enable our teams to test more, quicker, and better. A huge device lab with more than 200-plus devices backs the teams,” says Soni, who lists compatibility, responsiveness, content alignment, missing text issues, and low-rated user experience as the main issues in the mobile learning world. “Testing early in the product life cycle is crucial in driving efficiency and agility throughout the process.”
This year, Magic Software is focused on partnering with clients to manage large end-to-end programs and on providing consulting services in designing and delivering digital mobile education products. “Continuing to leverage our in-house tools and platforms and make them available over the cloud in a self-service mode to clients are just some of our goals for 2016,” CEO Acky Kamdar says.
Improvements and additions to DigiCore, MPS’s cloud-based digital publishing platform, have continued unabated since its launch. “The DigiComp autocomposition module is now extended to support Adobe InDesign and HTML5. The output is then validated through an automated QA tool, and rejections routed through a traditional workflow. We have also added a math-editing GUI to enable formatting changes within the XML-editing module, DigiEdit, which now has newly enhanced editing functionalities,” says CEO Rahul Arora, whose development team has improved the DigiEdit engine for further automation. “We also offer a module within the DigiCore platform for managing permissions of text and images.”
Several new features are in store for users of the cloud-based workflow-management platform MPSTrak, including mail processing from external mail servers; reminders and notifications management; user personalization; vacation management per geographic location; integration with more third-party systems, including SAP; and audit-trail management.
“Enhancements to DigiCore and MPSTrak platforms to fit industry requirements and end-user needs will continue while we look to expand our content creation and development services for the K–12 and higher education markets,” Arora says. “We will also be looking into more ways of helping publishers secure and monetize their IPs by improving our Rights & Permissions Management System, which is now a part of the DigiCore suite of services.”
More publishers, especially those in the journals segment, are looking for highly automated fast-track workflows for handling large-volume multidisciplinary open access journals, Arora says. “They want copy editing models involving automated editing and manual editing by freelancers, and standardized models or style sheets for enabling autodelivery of PDF proofs, ePub files, XML, and other deliverables,” he adds. “In short, they are looking for cloud-based solutions that accommodate collaborative working and production, and platforms that allow continuous content updating and publishing—and to have these solutions and platforms integrate processes such as manuscript submission and peer review.”
With their various function-specific modules, MPS DigiCore and MPSTrak are products that publishers have been searching for, according to Arora. “These solutions have all that they need and more, and we can customize them according to their specific publishing requirements,” Arora says. “And we will be adding even more functionalities as we go along.”
There is a plethora of new products and solutions from Newgen. The MyOwnBook portal, for instance, is a virtual office for publishers and editorial assistants to manage content contributors, manuscript development, and preparation work for production handover. It has been adopted by all of Newgen’s clients, with some implementing it for their internal office use. “This portal brings the stakeholders into a single interface and effectively streamlines the communication among authors, editors, and publishers,” Newgen president Maran Elancheran says.
Newgen’s RedShift platform helps publishers get content at the right time and produce it faster with the most efficient workflow possible while reducing redundancies. Rigorous evaluation of this platform is ongoing at two major publishing houses. “RedShift is an integrated solution enabling authors and publishers to write and edit through a simple Word interface and create print-ready PDF, XML, ePub, and HTML outputs on the fly,” says Elancheran, whose team also offers fixed layout and reflowable ePubs and enhancement of reader experience through interactivity and accessibility.
“Beyond creating e-books, the key challenge to any publisher is discoverability,” Elancheran says. “Publishers recognize the need to understand how readers discover content and the factors that can ease or impede that discovery. To this end, our marketing and discovery team offers innovative and proven solutions that will improve discoverability. We are in fact building a custom solution for discoverability for some of our legal and academic publishing clients.”
Nova is another new product. A mobile-first platform, it enables publishers to provide digital copies to customers who have purchased the physical titles, and helps them to understand customer preferences. Authors, contributors, and editors can also receive their complimentary copies through Nova, which saves publishers some money in sending out the print books.
Then, there is JAWS Evolve, a journal-publishing platform that integrates article submission, peer review, and production processes. The underlying content management system, workflow management, and tracking system makes it an elegant solution for journal publishers. “For distribution of journals and articles through tablets, we have ResearchPad, a white-labeled solution that eliminates any bespoke work for tablet distribution,” Elancheran says. “It seamlessly converts XML to ePub and delivers the content on the fly to the end users. It also offers library features and search functions.”
Reduced production costs, a shorter publishing cycle, and increased author involvement are the factors behind the creation of e2e, OKS Group’s cloud-based workflow platform. “It is an HTML editor that integrates the complete prepress production process into a single workflow while allowing for parallel product deliveries in XML, ePub3, HTML, and PDF. And since this is a Web-based application, there is no need for any licensed application or server-side pagination program on local computers to get going,” founder and CEO Vinit Khanna says, adding that “e2e allows full flexibility and customization across multiple languages, product types—such as journals, academic texts, reference works, and fiction—as well as individual publishers’ house styles.”
Many e2e features are specifically developed to support true collaboration and online communication and more autonomy for authors: a concurrent editing system for authors and editors; built-in pre-editing and validation tools; a built-in reference manager configured for The Chicago Manual of Style; a built-in math plug-in; infallible version control; a content management system; and a built-in reporting system. Styles such as APA, MLA, Harvard, and Vancouver are currently under development. “From a collaboration and cost standpoint, e2e is ideal for open access publishers,” Khanna says, “and incredibly helpful for the others.”
With the cloud-based environment ensuring a “live” platform that allows all parties—authors, editors, and prepress—to have round-the-clock access to their content, “e2e transcends the physical limitations of location and time zones,” Khanna says. “In other words, flexibility and accessibility is the key.”
Meanwhile, MarkSharks, a unique “flip classroom” learning system that harnesses the power of mobile devices to teach math and science, has made much progress in the past year. “Class 8 Science, our first app, was published on the Google Play Store, and has more than 35,000 downloads so far,” says Aditya Tripathi, CEO of OKS Education. “These downloads have helped us to fine-tune our marketing and communications strategy in preparation for more content launches in the coming months.”
For Tripathi, 2016 is the year that “MarkSharks moves from being a fantastic idea that has been receiving great feedback and reviews to a revenue-generating business.” Currently used by Indian schools, MarkSharks is now being beta tested in the U.K., and a voice-over pilot has been made available for a European K–12 publisher.
SourceHOV and Rule 14
Three new products—Jet, BoxOffice, and CourtQ—have taken the center stage at SourceHOV in recent months.
“Jet automatically identifies critical fields to be extracted, and, once extracted, the data is available for future queries or actions,” says Nakul Parashar, v-p for enterprise content management. The automated content-extraction platform intelligently recognizes and classifies data using natural-
language processing and machine-learning tools. “By removing manual intervention through Jet, the publisher does away with vendor dependency and is able to speedily go to market,” Parashar says. “This translates into time, cost, and quality advantages.”
BoxOffice is a composite enterprise information management solution. “It ingests, extracts, and stores key data from documents. It helps in aggregating, enhancing, summarizing, and routing content for real-time repurposing and archival. For business units within a publishing company, BoxOffice empowers them with actionable and trackable intelligence,” Parashar says, adding that “cloud-based BoxOffice offers greater security, a drastic reduction in paper handling, and allows role-based access for seamless retrieval in most formats.” Major BoxOffice modules include content aggregation, conversion, extraction, enhancement, classification, summarization, and XML generation.
CourtQ, as its name implies, is for the legal sector and enables users to efficiently search, monitor, and mine court documents for actionable intelligence based on recent case activity. For Parashar, “working with two large legal content aggregators for the past two decades has given us a lot of insight into legal editorial operations.” Additionally, there are more than 40 law graduates and postgraduates working in SourceHOV’s India offices, with a similar number at its Minneapolis facility. “Our team have been writing articles, blogs, abstracts, synopses, and headnotes for legal companies worldwide,” Parashar says. “We also do a lot of XML conversion of legal documents and real-time support on updating various case laws. We have extensively automated headnote writing using machine learning and natural language-processing techniques—and these are the understanding and automation that we apply to the creation of CourtQ.”
Rule 14, SourceHOV’s sister company, remains focused on big data analytics and is now actively occupied in building intelligent conversion, extraction, and summarization engines, Parashar says: “We continue to employ Rule 14 to scale SourceHOV’s operational capabilities and take away the need to increase head count or turnaround time—which is to the benefit of our publishing clients.”
DigiScape, Thomson Digital’s newest division, leverages the company’s four decades of publishing experience and a workforce of more than 100 software professionals. “This division offers software product development—specifically workflow and content management solutions—together with managed services such as software development, testing, support, and maintenance,” executive director Vinay Singh says.
Two new products have already been developed under the DigiScape umbrella. Unitouch is a single-touch platform where manuscripts are converted and paginated for print and Web. “Then we have Coast, which is a Web-based tool primarily focused on aiding researchers in various aspects of literature survey. It is a complete product in itself that meets almost all research requirements,” Singh says, adding that these two products are the culmination of successful past experiences in developing solutions for both clients and internal use.
Thomson Digital has introduced numerous customizations into TD-XPS, its flagship Web-based digital publishing platform for books, allowing it to generate the efficiency and quality output that one has come to expect with journal production. “We have added analytics support, machine learning techniques for intelligent structuring of content, and semantic tagging and granular data organization. APIs for various databases, including CrossRef and PubMed, are also added,” Singh says, pointing out that the platform already has real-time proofing, a Web-based submission system, and a platform-independent auto-pagination system. “TD-XPS users can build LMS modules from scratch or use its smart apps to facilitate one-click publishing on handheld devices. It will continue to grow over time to support key business requirements for our clients.”
For the past year in New York, the Thomson Digital subsidiary TDI Digital Solutions has provided onshore services that focus on rich media, animation, and gaming, catered exclusively to the requirements of the North American publishing market. “This subsidiary has started to offer project management and editorial services, and, soon, software solutions as well,” Singh says. “We have amassed a huge pool of freelancers with rich publishing background and domain expertise, and clients will benefit from their core competencies.”
Anticipating future market requirements—and adapting the company’s workflow and solutions accordingly—is a make-or-break business stance. “Managing change and the ability to be flexible and nimble regardless of company size is the key to success in the business,” Singh says.
More than 1,500 journals—amounting to more than 800,000 STM pages across all subject areas from large publishers and societies—have been handled by Proof Central, TNQ’s proofing platform.
The latest addition to the platform, Page Central, an independent SAAS, is set to draw in even more users. Bundled with Proof Central, it is based on a patent-pending engine that updates the content changes and user edits into a neat page view that looks like a typeset PDF. “But it is not PDF; it is essentially an HTML page that is shown with page breaks,” chief creative officer M.V. Bhaskar says.
On Page Central, the floats and notes are placed logically within the HTML page. “Images, for instance, do not ‘overfloat’ or spill across pages as is often the case with ePub files. Page Central also rotates big tables to fit the width to the greater dimension, and when tables continue across pages, the table header shows up on every page. Obviously, since it is HTML, the content is hyperlinked,” Bhaskar says, adding that “the user does not need to install a plug-in or program. Page Central does the pagination in seconds, using the browser. It has everything that users and publishers expect of a typeset PDF, with much less of the process loads of a PDF-based publishing process.”
The inventor of Page Central, Suki Venkatesan, once referred to it as “TNQ’s landing on the moon,” Bhaskar says. “It may be a moon landing for publishers as well, since our surveys report a healthy ‘want’ metric. Page Central is the fastest way to autogenerate an elegant page, using just the browser to go from XML to HTML and on to PDF.”
Meanwhile, Author Cafe, TNQ’s what-you-see-is-what-you-get HTML-authoring platform, is now going through user-acceptance testing, first with a small group of mathematicians and then with hundreds of users from across the sciences. The public beta version, slated for June, will represent TNQ’s decisive push in taking the entire publishing process into the online space.
The business side of TNQ’s new subsidiary in London is now led by managing director Yakov Chandy, and Abhigyan Arun (formerly of Innodata Isogen) has joined the senior management as chief digital officer. “We see 2016 as the year of the big push of products that we have been working on for years, like Author Cafe, and for making strategic partnerships in the Americas,” Bhaskar says.
Westchester Publishing Services
Over the last 12 months, Westchester, which is headquartered in Danbury, Conn., has been busy expanding its production and editorial capabilities in India. It recently added a floor to its Chennai production center, which now employs nearly 300 people for composition, digital conversion, project management, and copy editing. It also added a new office in Delhi. Both offices are rapidly expanding with additional project management and copyediting staff to handle the growing demand from clients for cost-efficient India-based services. “We offer the full suite of services out of the U.S. and India, allowing us to provide the right product blend to meet specific publishing needs,” says business development director Tyler Carey, who says sales are 100% U.S-based, 60% of which come from books and digital products, and the rest from journals.
Westchester serves many different publishing markets, including trade, academic, STM, university presses, and policy groups, offering both composition-only and full-service editorial options. An offering that combines editorial, composition, and digital services has been the greatest growth area over the past decade, with clients such as Harvard University Press, ABC-CLIO, and Springer Publishing. “We provide great value to our clients by providing high quality services at a cost which would be very difficult to match with in-house staff, thus allowing our clients to focus on title acquisition and developmental editing and all postproduction activities,” Carey says. “With the expansion of our offshore editorial and project management operations, we are poised for further growth in all markets.”
The team recently worked on bestsellers as varied as Jonathan Franzen’s Purity, Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century, and the Norton Anthology series. “The range of projects that we handle has expanded tremendously, from heavily illustrated titles for a martial arts publisher, to digital issues of journals for a medical publisher, to fixed-layout children’s titles,” Carey says. “This wide client base is a tremendous benefit to our clients, as trends in any particular segment do cross over and take hold in other spaces.”
Westchester, established in 1969, is the largest U.S.-based full-service provider, delivering about 4,000 titles and 80,000 journal pages annually, and in 2014 it became a 100% employee-owned business through an employee stock ownership plan. “Our experience means that we have the acumen to ask the right questions and the expertise to take the right actions for our clients,” Carey says.