(This posting reviews a presentation entitled "Key issues in the development of publishing: the age of information services and solutions" given by David Worlock, Outsell's Chief Research Fellow, at the Ingenta Trends event held in London in December 2007).


The history of the web can be viewed as three ages:
  • “web transfer” – the early 1990s, when early adopters hastily and perhaps clumsily posted everything we could online
  • “web synthesis” – the late 90s and early 00s; we tried to build on the web’s capabilities by making new things work
  • “web catalyst” – the age we are now entering; a networked society reinventing the online experience from the bottom up

Larger publishers have been slow to come on board with the catalyst age because they are generally too distant from their users. Nonetheless, during the last year, a lot of activity has been stimulated by:

  • workflow and the desire to enhance productivity for our users
  • compliance issues as the industry becomes more standardised
  • growing familiarity with users as we monitor what they do before and after visiting our site
  • building brands in the networked environment
  • helping perplexed users to filter the wealth of content with which they are inundated.
2008, David suggests, may be the year in which we:
  • break the schackles of the network operators; Asia and Europe are driving change in this area, though the US is still attached to inappropriate and old-fashioned standards
  • embrace vertical search for the authority it can bestow upon subject-specific content
  • use tag clouds to monitor rapidly changing user requirements
  • create competitive advantage by positioning organisations within social and enterprise networks to support growth of sector-based communities
  • capitalise on consumer power with innovative marketing and product development
  • recognise the value of bundling and syndicating content to grow revenues
David's slides list the companies that he thinks will perform best (or most interestingly) in 2008, along with his top ten "issues that matter". He closed with "the agility imperative", which is spot-on I shall reiterate it here:
  • insist on agile mindset, organisation and processes
  • be clear on value proposition
  • adopt new channels
  • experiment with new revenue models
  • look for cost reduction through reinvention
  • assess readiness
  • drive speedier time to market
  • watch valuations and drive cash flow.