Category Archives: Media

Hard Times Strategies for Publishers

I just stumbled into this pithy post from Greenhouse Associates, a boutique strategy consultancy that serves firms in the information and media market. The post, entitled Counter-Intuitive Tactics for Bad Times, lists seven non-obvious tactics that companies should consider when managing through tough times.

The list is below, along with a brief parenthetic comment on each item:

  • Invest in product development, not sales. (We like this one since MarkLogic Server is often sold to publishers as a platform for new product development.)
  • Turn salespeople into consultants. (A good idea at any time, but a necessary one in tough times.)
  • Put your customer first. (Ditto. Information companies have such a long history of product-centricity that the transition to customer/solution-centricity is a big one.)
  • Build value through relationships as well as products. (Complement product with service and the relationships built in the process.)
  • Look for evergreen and counter-cyclical sectors. (Example: bankruptcy and foreclosure lawyers are having a field day.)
  • Cut costs with a scalpel, not a hatchet. (My first reaction to an across-the-board cut is that management either couldn’t or didn’t take the time to figure out a more strategic way to do its job.)
  • Be ready for black swans. (Life is discontinuous. Yes.)

The full article is here.

XML: Why You Should Care

The folks at O’Reilly Media have created an excellent blog around their ToC (Tools of Change for Publishing) meme and event. As part of that, they are running a series called StartWithXML that has some excellent material on the topic of XML and publishing.

One of the first posts in the StartWithXML project is entitled Why You Should Care About XML by Andrew Savikas, with whom I had the pleasure of speaking on a panel at the Gilbane conference in San Francisco a few months back. Excerpt:

But there are several reasons why it’s really really important for publishers to start paying attention to XML right now, and across their entire workflow:

  • XML is here to stay, for the reasonably forseeable future. While it’s always dangerous to attempt to predict expiration dates on technology, I think it’s fair to assume XML will have a shelf life at least as long as ASCII, which has been with us for more than 40 years, and isn’t going anywhere soon.
  • Web publishing and print publishing are converging, and writing and production for print will be much more influenced by the Web than vice-versa. It will only get harder to succeed in publishing without putting the Web on par with (or ahead of) print as the primary target. The longer you wait to get that content into Web-friendly and re-usable XML, the worse.

Many in publishing balk at bringing XML “up the stack” to the production, editing, or even the authoring stage. And with good reason; XML isn’t really meant to be created or edited by hand (though a nice feature is that in a pinch it easily can be). There are two places to look for useful clues about how XML will actually fit into a publisher’s workflow: Web publishing and the “alpha geeks.”

He then goes on to examining both web publishing and alpha geek behavior in order to provide a lay of the future publishing land. See the post for more.

O’Reilly is also hosting a StartWithXML one-day forum in New York City on 1/13/09 at the McGraw-Hill Auditorium.