Numbers do not lie, but they often vary, especially from one industry research paper to the next. But two indicators are consistent when it comes to the digital publishing industry: the projected market value is huge and its growth, exponential. Now, that’s the good news that everyone likes to hear.

According to the Business Research Company, the global digital publishing market, valued at $36.29 billion in 2021, is poised to grow to $41.64 billion this year and hit $68.81 billion by 2026. A more conservative study from Insight Partners puts the market value at $37.94 billion by 2028. On the other end of the spectrum, Technavio forecasts a massive growth of $105.96 billion between 2022 and 2026, of which 41% will come from Asia Pacific. The educational segment is set to expand by $10.55 billion over the next four years, with K–12 leading the charge.

Meanwhile, consolidation in the publishing industry continues, seeing numerous big deals in 2021: Wiley bought open access journal publisher Hindawi, Clarivate purchased ProQuest, Platinum Equity acquired McGraw Hill, HarperCollins took over the trade division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Hachette Book Group snapped up Workman Publishing. Also in the news was the exit of Follett Corporation from the education business after nearly 150 years, with the sale of its school solutions and higher-ed divisions and Baker & Taylor. All eyes are now on the upcoming court battle between Penguin Random House and the U.S. Department of Justice over the publisher’s plan to acquire Simon & Schuster.

For digital solutions providers in India, the name, or ownership, of a client may change, but the needs of the publishing industry remain constant: greater efficiencies in production processes, shorter project-turnaround time, faster time to market, and more unique and enhanced deliverables to offer consumers. Tweaking their tech tools amid the constant changes and challenges is par for the course.

Ensuring content accessibility for all

According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), at least one billion people, or 15% of the global population, have a recognized disability. But the number that grabs the attention of publishers and vendors is likely to be this group’s cumulative spending power, which is estimated to exceed $6 trillion.

Catering to this group, however, requires additional planning and careful execution. Increasing text color contrast, adding alt-text to images, labeling form elements, offering a simple website navigation, and describing links, for instance, will make content more accessible to those with cognitive difficulties, vision impairment, and auditory issues. These efforts to ensure content accessibility and create “born accessible” content—which will also help support digital equity—require publishers and vendors alike to take a step back, look inward, and reconfigure their internal processes.

Publishers who serve the European market, or intend to do so, will definitely need to take a hard look at accessibility and rework their processes by June 2025, when the European Accessibility Act takes effect, says Deb Taylor, business development director at Westchester Publishing Services. “This is going to push for accessibility standards to be adopted in more markets, especially where such standards do not yet exist.”

More countries are certainly putting in place stronger accessibility legislation, with the vast majority choosing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1 AA as the standard, says Tony Alves, senior v-p of product management at HighWire Press, now owned by MPS Limited. “Recently, we have had many clients requesting WCAG 2.1 AA Voluntary Product Accessibility Templates [VPATs] for their sites to enable them to sell licenses to their own customers, including libraries, educational institutions, and corporations.” Each VPAT, Alves says, “is time-intensive, and we supply a generic VPAT as part of our standard platform offering. Some clients have us develop a dedicated site-specific VPAT to offer as a paid service.”

Additionally, the MPS team has developed a solution whereby the VPAT is created and customized for clients who host their content on proprietary platforms. “For such a solution, we always do both automated and manual testing against the WCAG standards,” Alves says. “Automated testing gets you most of the way there, but the added manual testing makes a huge difference to the actual accessibility of a site.”

For websites that derive from MPS hosting platforms JCore and Scolaris, a standard VPAT is provided to explain how the specific platform meets each criteria in WCAG 2.1 AA, Alves says. “For publishers, a plan should be in place to maintain compliance as new updates are continuously rolled out. Additionally, we offer a mix of automated and manual processes to assess accessibility gaps and help publishers to detect and prioritize the enhancements they need to administer.”

There is currently a high demand for digital titles, with a growing request that they meet accessibility requirements, specifically WCAG 2.0 AA and EPUB Accessibility 1.0 Conformance and Discovery specifications, says Taylor, of Westchester Publishing Services. “Publishers are focused on converting their backlists, whether they are from older EPUB versions or from print titles, in order to provide digital content for all users to access.” This movement, she says, was one of the key drivers of the company’s decision to invest in Benetech’s Global Certified Accessible (GCA) certification process.

Publishers are starting to evaluate their workflows in terms of how to address accessibility in their frontlist titles from the beginning—rather than at the end—of the production process, including how to develop guidelines and processes around alt-text development, Taylor says. “Most publishers recognize that by thinking about accessible design early on, they can minimize or even eliminate additional steps at the end.”

As a GCA-certified vendor, Westchester is now “seeing clients turning to us for best practices and to perform digital conversion and accessibility checks for them as well,” Taylor says. “And as digital compliance standards continue to become more complex, publishers will need to determine whether they invest in expensive and highly skilled resources to add to their teams or rely on partners who can offer that expertise at scale.”

Like time, accessibility standards and requirements certainly do not stand still. WCAG, for instance, has gone from 1.0 to 2.0 and 2.1, with 2.2 expected to be released by September; 3.0 is being drafted as we speak to address color contrast issues. What’s more, there are different conformance levels—A, AA, and AAA in the 2.1 guidelines—to consider during the content creation, production, and delivery processes as well.

With these changes in accessibility requirements comes the need for constant training in various standards and guidelines as well as third-party screen reader tools. “We are training our staff in advanced accessibility services such as audiobooks with synthesized voice, that is, text-to-speech, and embossed braille,” says V. Bharathram, president of Lapiz Digital, who sees a huge demand for services such as audio/video captioning, alt-text writing, and creating accessible PDFs and PPTs going forward. “Our accessibility services now extend from alt-text to accessible graphics. In one of our recent projects, we had to use EPUB3 accessibility features to produce the digital content and describe products provided to retailers.”

“We are talking a lot more about accessibility with our clients,” says Jo Bottrill, managing director of Newgen KnowledgeWorks in the U.K. and U.S. “As a Benetech-accredited vendor, we support the efforts to make all content accessible, and through membership of organizations such as W3C, we are taking an active role in helping to form new standards and processes to improve the accessibility journey. Through our team of accessibility experts, both onshore and in India, we provide consultancy and advice to clients on crafting their accessibility workflows.” Newgen KnowledgeWorks recently held a webinar titled “Digital Accessibility: A New Era for Academic Publishers” that brought together several industry experts to talk about the latest thinking in the world of accessibility.

“Remediation of backlist titles continues to be an important aspect of our work in accessibility,” Bottrill says. “But the conversation is now about perfecting frontlist workflows to produce truly born-accessible content. Increasingly, we are supporting editorial teams and their authors around issues such as alt-text creation and accessible content design. And it does not stop with accessibility. Reading content for aspects of diversity, inclusion, and equity is a growing need, particularly for education and English-language publishers as they review their backlists and look to adapt content for new markets.”

Contemplating interactivities, AR, VR, and the metaverse

The latest Research and Markets report indicates that the global market for augmented reality (AR) in education was around $760.4 million in 2020 and will grow to $41.8 billion by 2027. In the K–12 segment, AR has a 74.1% CAGR to hit $14.1 billion in 2027. These numbers and revenue potentials are fueling a whole new game.

Enter the metaverse, the virtual reality (VR) version of our present-day internet. Global spending in the metaverse, which includes remote learning and gaming, could reach $5 trillion by 2030, according to a new report from McKinsey & Co. Tech players such as Adobe, Huawei, Meta, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Sony, and W3C have recently joined forces to launch the Metaverse Standards Forum to develop industry guidelines for ensuring that immersive VR worlds are compatible. Apple, absent from the group for now, is poised to debut its long-awaited immersive AR/VR headset in January 2023. With so much buzz, hope, and hype surrounding the metaverse, it is definitely the topic du jour and one that digital solutions vendors have to prepare for.

Impelsys, for instance, is in the process of convening a research team to identify a metaverse learning solution. “Our team currently offers the development of complex interactive EPUBs and read-aloud audiobooks,” says Uday Majithia, v-p of products, platforms, and technology services division. “We are also focused on creating state-of-the-art learning solutions as well as interactive and engaging e-learning solutions.”

At DiacriTech, interactive publishing has been gathering strength during the pandemic. One publishing client, upon seeing a slowdown in print sales, asked the team to populate its e-learning platforms with digital content. Within 75 days of the approval of suggested storyboards, more than 430 videos, 750 animations, 120 slideshows, 350 infographics, and 680 interactive widgets were created. The project also involved ingesting the LMS content and quality-checking the rendering. All of these processes were accomplished without affecting ongoing classes. “After assessing the benefits of the interactive content, the publisher’s client had us revamp some of the existing titles with additional rich media when the classes went on a break for a few weeks,” says executive v-p Mahesh Balakrishnan, who notes that the demand for rich media interactive products are set to increase further with more traditional publishers jumping onto the bandwagon.

DiacriTech’s AR/VR/MR product, Immersive Gaze, is now helping trade publishers to turn manuals, training processes, field implementation guides, and troubleshooting procedures into interactive technology-driven solutions. “With travel curtailed and social distancing the norm during the pandemic, the adoption of MR and VR had increased significantly,” Balakrishnan says. “We just completed a complex self-training project for a multinational company for use with HTC Vive and Oculus Quest. The client is now exploring the idea of adding modules to test technicians on their training effectiveness with simulations in the VR environment.”

But fear about costs is holding back wider adoption. “Publishers see interactive publishing as one that comes with a hefty price tag accompanied by uncertain returns,” Balakrishnan says. “The task for us is to convince them to give it a try and to work around their budgets. While VR and MR is no doubt expensive, the publishers—and vendors—that can adapt to changing consumer expectations and market demands with the right interactive content are the ones that will lead the market.”

Spending on interactive publishing “can be limited to and capped based on the business model and prospects of a project,” says A.R.M. Gopinath, executive v-p of DiacriTech. “We always tell clients not to spend more than necessary. We also suggest that solutions and developments for interactive publishing projects—or other projects, for that matter—should be upgradeable and adaptable for the foreseeable future.”

“Now we are talking about the metaverse, NFT, blockchain—a whole new world out there—with the next generation of consumers speaking that language,” Gopinath says. “And all of us will be seeking to create and distribute content made for these consumers. So unless we plan for the future, the content that we create and distribute will not be engaging anymore.”

Adopting automation and AI

Deploying chatbots as virtual assistants to serve customers, using predictive algorithms to personalize content and recommend authors and books, and applying natural language processing to refine content and create text-to-speech audiobooks: these are just some of the common uses of cognitive technologies, the umbrella term that includes AI, machine learning, expert systems, and robotic process automation. For publishers, adopting AI and automation makes perfect sense in terms of reducing turnaround time, lowering production costs, and speeding up time to market while simultaneously creating and enhancing their content.

Increasing the automation and efficiency of its processes is an ongoing commitment at Westchester Publishing Services. “But we also make sure that we have the human QC protocols embedded throughout—not just at the end, as is common in other digital solutions providers,” Taylor says. “This combination of automation technology, human production, and editorial expertise ensures that our clients’ titles meet the budget, production deadlines, and high-quality targets every time.”

The nuanced skill of copyediting, for example, still requires a human eye, says Balakrishnan, of DiacriTech. “Contextual copyediting is a manual process. So is language refinement and alt-text writing. These cannot be entirely automated at this moment, nor do we plan to do so in the near future.” But file tagging, content conversion and composition, reference editing, and Digital Object Identifier (DOI) checking are highly automated on its production floor. “Mundane copyediting tasks, graphic conversions, and sizing processes as well as indexing and glossary-making are certainly automated to shorten the turnaround time and reduce production costs,” Balakrishnan says.

Process automation and tool development are going strong at Lapiz Digital. “This is one of the Key Result Areas for our staff, in which they are tasked with generating ideas that improve work process productivity or quality,” says Bharathram. “In the conversion side of the business, we have automated most of the processes. But there are still areas where manual intervention is required, such as device view checking. And there are certain areas where we have no intention to automate, given the wide variety of plug-ins and tools available in the open market to help with the processes and tasks involved.”

Over the years, the Impelsys team has built a significant level of automation into digital conversion and print-related projects. “Our create-once publish-everywhere model allows our clients to go digital-first and print on demand, saving them a considerable amount of cost and inventory while shortening time to market, which are all critical for their businesses,” says George Oommen, v-p of learning and content services division, whose innovation team is busy automating question-authoring and text-summarizing processes. “We will continue to invest in automation, pass on the savings to our clients, and help them reach their markets faster, thereby keeping the cost of education low.”

The Impelsys team has also increased automation in its software-testing cycles. “Testing of tailor-made software products and apps requires a wide coverage of test scenarios to ensure the desired product or app is meeting all requirements, including functionality, performance, security, and user accessibility and experience,” Majithia says. “But such automation remains a challenge, as each publisher comes to us with unique operational needs and processes. Since no one product fits all, developing and implementing bespoke apps while ensuring that each of our client’s businesses continues as usual is the path forward.”

The driver of the automation and design of more efficient workflows and processes is simple common sense, says Bottrill, of Newgen KnowledgeWorks. “But now, with the tight labor market, wage growth, and the potential for an economic reset on the horizon, automation is no longer a nice-to-have. It is a necessity. Publishers must quickly adapt to the changing economic conditions, bring efficiency to their operations, and ensure that their systems and platforms are producing great content quickly and get it directly into the hands of their consumer with as little effort as possible.”

Seizing opportunities in OA and OER

The numbers were just in: more than half of the transformative journals that signed up with Plan S, the European-led initiative for scholarly publishing to transition to the open access (OA) model, had missed their first-year targets in increasing OA content. The publishers literally ran into paywall issues, because, let’s be honest here, adding more pressure to their traditional revenue models during these tough economic times of rising costs and wages is a bit too much to ask. So the plan did not deliver the shock that its “S” suggests, but we remain hopeful for the sake of open science.

For the vendors, working on OA articles and journals is about further lowering production costs and reducing turnaround time while maintaining the quality—hey there, AI and automation—necessary to make the whole Plan S proposition viable for publishers. The same applies to open educational resources (OER), whether these are open textbooks, courseware, learning modules, or digital learning objects.

“Open” is a business model, not a content model, says Rahul Arora, chairman and CEO at MPS Limited. “Whether the content is behind a paywall or is openly available, the articles and resources must still be easy to access and well-indexed for maximum discoverability with tools and features that assist readability, allow accessibility, and enhance engagement. The value we offer to our publisher partners when working with OA content or OER does not differ much from the value we offer with regard to subscription content.”

But there are some unique opportunities that MPS’s publisher partners can take advantage of when it comes to OA and OER. “We have products, such as our Sigma access management system and our Vizor analytics tools that track OA content and OER for reporting and understanding usage and usability,” Arora says. “We have mechanisms that allow for ‘freemium’ offerings, where the main content is free and the user can opt in to pay for additional content such as video or interactive learning. We see significant interest in this hybrid solution, where some content is open and some ancillary content has associated fees.”

As more publishers embrace OA—for journals and books—the ability to provide excellent service systematically and at scale becomes more important than ever, says Bottrill, of Newgen KnowledgeWorks. “Whichever OA model is followed, the economics of the publishing process are turned on its head and the pressures on publishers to innovate the process and cut costs grow even stronger. We have helped to launch several new OA publishing initiatives in the past year, all of them experimenting with different approaches to the challenge. Whether it is a niche OA journal or an enterprise channeling a proportion of revenues into OA projects, we are helping publishers to innovate by finding new models, not just for content production but also in the business of publishing.”

With OER and free solutions, the need to be cost efficient during the production process is critical, Majithia, of Impelsys, says. “Our automated processes and network of subject-matter experts available on demand have helped to keep our costs low. This, in turn, has led to a significantly higher volume of projects requiring quick and scaled-up access to experts, and so the ability to turn them around quickly is crucial.”

“As an intelligent and intuitive content delivery platform, our iPC Scholar 3.0 has been an amazing solution catering to all aspects of management, distribution, and monetization of e-learning contents irrespective of their format,” says Majithia. “Its modular architecture is scalable as the business grows. The back-office administration of the platform provides the flexibility to identify the OA contents and manage them accordingly. This is further strengthened by the platform’s built-in DRM capabilities that provide the freedom to our customers to manage the granularity of restrictions on the content, types of users, and number of devices.”

Pondering the pandemic impact

Between 2019 and 2021, there was an additional 800 million internet users, according to the International Telecommunication Union, and Gartner reported that, in 2021, global smartphone sales grew 6%. At the same time, the e-learning and mobile learning (m-learning) market, valued at $18.23 billion in 2019, saw a growth spurt projected to reach $58.5 billion by 2025, reports Market Data Forecast.

In Indonesia, the number of internet users jumped 45 million in the last two years, as its population turned online for their daily activities, work, school, and shopping. Halfway across the globe, online learning platform Coursera added 27 million and 21 million new students in 2020 and 2021, respectively; in comparison, its annual new registrations were between seven and nine million prior to the start of the pandemic. The m-learning market, which exceeded $20 billion in 2019, is set to grow at 13% CAGR between 2020 and 2026, according to Global Market Insights. By 2027, this market is projected to hit $80 billion.

On the publishing side, Bloomsbury reported record sales and profit in 2021, which its chief executive attributed to the pandemic reading boom and a reacquired reading habit. Wiley just announced that revenue from its fiscal 2022, which ended in April, topped the $2 billion mark for the first time in its 215-year history, with 83% of it coming from digital sales. All four major trade publishers in the U.S.—HarperCollins, Lagarde're, Penguin Random House, and Simon & Schuster—posted gains in 2021 over 2020. The Association of American Publishers further reported that a strong rebound in sales of K–12 materials and trade books had led to a 12.2% increase in publishing sales in 2021 compared to the year before.

So while the pandemic brings about major challenges—supply chain issues, for instance—the increased appetite for books, reading, and learning is clear and significant. For the digital solutions vendors, the new “normal” has led to discovering alternative ways to work, tweaking tools to ensure data and process security, improving telecommunication and video conferencing capabilities, and helping clients to meet shifting consumer habits and demands. And for those wondering if working from home (WFH) is effective, well, there are plenty of reports out there, from Owl Labs and Global Workplace Analytics, for instance, that tout increased productivity, happiness, and job satisfaction—with companies benefitting directly from a significant decrease in employee turnover, operating costs, and workplace stress.

The pandemic “has given us the opportunity to test alternative working models,” says Bharathram, of Lapiz Digital. “For now, we will continue the hybrid model where our staff comes to the office two or three days a week. We have implemented a multilevel security and encryption system to ensure zero compromise in the confidentiality, productivity, quality, and turnaround time in delivering the projects to our clients. This hybrid model has in fact resulted in increased productivity and quality. At the same time, we have built in ‘me time’ for staff with regular online team meetings to check on their and their families’ well-being.”

On the consumer end, the pandemic has pushed more people to go online, and this is the biggest long-term change, Bharathram says. “The conventional method of generating sales has also shifted during the pandemic, with more independent and digital-savvy publishers bringing new ideas for digital solutions providers to explore.”

Over at DiacriTech, staff have returned to its Chennai, Kottayam, and Madurai offices. “But we have copy editors, indexers, and project managers, for instance, who prefer WFH and will drop in at the office twice a week,” Balakrishnan says. “We do see a better work-life balance with WFH and have thus implemented an ‘on-request WFH’ policy that staff can utilize for up to six days per month.”

The Covid-19 lockdown has made small and medium-sized publishers realize that outsourcing and digitizing their content is the way forward if they want to remain relevant in the industry, Balakrishnan says. “Numerous small publishers approached us for assistance when their supply chain was not able to manage large-scale WFH operations. Somehow, these publishers seem to think that working with only 10 or 50 titles annually does not interest offshore digital vendors like us. On the contrary, we are here to help and make their workflows better.” Working with smaller companies, he says, “allows us to provide bespoke solutions. The work is also interesting as we find their passion for their content, though much smaller in volume, to be very high. Such projects keep us on our toes, forcing us to innovate and operate within their tight budgets.”

At Newgen KnowledgeWorks, there is “an increased engagement in technology—from workflow management to new platforms—as publishers are poised to take on new projects and renew tired technology post-pandemic,” Bottrill says. “Interoperability is essential. Having multiple systems that talk to each other creates a more modular and flexible approach, enabling different parts of the organization to communicate with each other and cut down on rework or inefficiencies.”

Charting their next steps

With more sophisticated and demanding publishers and end consumers, not to mention new gadgets and technologies, digital content must be fluid and mobile. As for the platform solutions offered by vendors, they are increasingly becoming modular, with potential enterprise-wide implementation to make them more cost-effective, robust, and scalable. For vendors, being innovative and nimble makes the difference between just surviving and leading the pack. To this end, each of them has unique business strategies and paths for forging ahead.

Over at MPS, rather than trying to sell products and services that it has acquired via eight companies—including E.I. Design and HighWire Press—the team is focused on driving business impacts and solutions for its customers in each of the three markets—research, education, and corporation—it serves. “Our products and services in the content, e-learning, and platforms business segments are simply tools available to us but not what we are restricted to,” says Arora. “We solve client and marketplace problems. We do not want our clients to work to have us working for them. Our customer interactions—that is, our outside-in market-based approach—are focused on leveraging multiple capabilities across our business segments to better address client needs instead of deploying our previous traditional product-based approach.”

For Majithia, of Impelsys, the adoption of digital solutions is no longer a good-to-have in the strategy road map but a must-have. “We see demands from our existing services as well as those from areas such as AI, Managed Content as a Service (MCaaS), solutions to curate and provide bundled content, usage of Experience API (xAPI) specifications in LMS to track learner progress, e-learning, simulations, and social learning,” he says. “While adaptive learning has been around for some time, it is now coming of age, and the next few years are set to be a turning point for the e-learning industry.” For more on this, check out the Go Digital webinar series on the Impelsys website, including the latest, “Adapting Businesses to the New Normal Using Digital Transformation.”

Users, particularly those in the vibrant library and institutional markets, “now demand richly linked and certified accessible digital content that can integrate seamlessly with their existing platforms, including learning management systems and virtual learning environments,” says Bottrill, of Newgen KnowledgeWorks. “While the up-front cost of producing a book may seem higher for a truly digital-first workflow, publishers need to factor in the cost of conversion and the benefits of improved time to market that taking a digital-first approach opens up. Accessibility is another important factor that requires publishers to take a digital-first structured-content approach.”

Being close to clients helps too. Having offices in Germany and Malaysia “has been a key part of our business strategy for some time,” Bottrill says. “These hybrid services, particularly in the realms of content creation, and where design and product development are required, have long benefitted from having people in the local markets to listen to, support, and engage with the communities that we serve. Having experts in the market will remain an essential instrument in our toolbox, especially as we form closer and more meaningful partnerships with our publishing colleagues.”

Publishers, says Taylor, of Westchester Publishing Services, are evaluating their workflows and staff workloads to identify where their internal resources are best dedicated to growing their titles and revenues and where their partners can be used to offload some of the work that still needs to be fulfilled. “At the same time, many publishers, having to focus on supply chain and workforce challenges while also managing changing market and distribution needs, are turning to us to handle more of their prepress and digital conversion tasks,” Taylor says. These industry challenges were discussed at the “Publishing Now ’22: Driving Business Forward” webinar, which Westchester cohosted with PW in March.

Digital solutions are moving toward more ancillary content, says Balakrishnan, of DiacriTech. “Online and blended learning are here to stay, and publishers want to monetize that. And with newer technology, systems developed in past years are being revamped and made more powerful and flexible, thus accelerating publishers’ speed to market while increasing cost-effectiveness for their products.”

Small and medium-sized publishers cannot afford to ignore the digital, especially in key academic, education, and English-language markets, says Bottrill, of Newgen KnowledgeWorks. “While major publishers were sold on the benefits of XML long ago, there are still scores of smaller publishers for whom postproduction digital conversion is the norm. Not only does this slow down the production process and time to market, but it limits the quality and function of the digital content.” Bottrill expects to “see publishers for education and English-language learning markets continue to embrace the benefits of outsourcing, offshoring, and our hybrid solutions. And with the labor market tightening around the globe, our ability to access staff globally will help publishers flex and scale their operations as required.”

Speaking of the English-language learning market, it is one area that has garnered more attention from vendors and publishers. After all, this market is set to grow by $14.37 billion, progressing at a CAGR of 16.78% from 2021 to 2026, according to a recent Technavio report. Around 45% of this growth will originate from Asia Pacific, with China and India as the key markets.

Meanwhile, Bharathram, of Lapiz Digital, is seeing a growing trend toward audio products, where text-to-speech technology is crucial. “We see more books being converted to audiobooks that publishers distribute through multiple digital platforms to achieve a global reach,” he says. “At the same time, AI in digital publishing is becoming the norm and is used to detect plagiarism of copyrighted works, correct grammar, and mark complex errors. It also helps in auto-tagging unstructured data to reduce turnaround time and overall cost in the production process.”

The Lapiz team also expects to see more self-publishing activities as well as the rise of independent publishing groups. “In the educational publishing segment, media-rich digital products will continue to grow over the next two years,” says Bharathram. “Here, we see distinct needs for proper content management and authoring tools and the capability to develop interactive content.”

For Oommen, of Impelsys, there was “a significant increase in demand for personalized and adaptive learning solutions, interactive e-books, and print-on-demand services. The demand for digital content in regional languages is also increasing rapidly, and we are building capabilities to cater to this emerging market.”

And that brings us to this: the “create once, publish everywhere” principle of content digitization, while it sounds simple, is actually getting tougher and more complex to execute, thanks to the plethora of devices, platforms, standards, and workflows available out there. Bespoke apps and platforms are getting popular as publishers, and vendors, eschew proprietary products in favor of customized, modular, templated, and XML-first solutions. But most importantly, for publishers, the authored, designed, and structured digital content must be agile and mobile, and it must be delivered seamlessly via engaging and intuitive user interfaces to the end consumers.

Which means that lower production costs, shorter turnaround time, and enhanced e-deliverables are the norm, not the exception. So too is keeping the workflow energized, audiences engaged, and content quickly discovered and monetized. And, yes, that tall order is growing taller by the minute. But for the six digital solutions vendors featured in this report, along with their many counterparts out there, reengineering, rethinking, and revitalizing any asset, content, or list is just another day at work—from home or at the office.

This feature is published with the support of the vendors covered in these articles