Trends for 2019: AI, remote working, and rights and royalties

Scott Winner
Opinion - Publishing Monday, 14 January 2019

Scott Winner notes some trends to watch out for this year


This year, publishers continue to take advantage of the ever-increasing benefits of technology in the publishing process. Technology’s value continues to expand across all aspects of the industry including workflow, discovery, managing of intellectual property, rights management, process automation, and data analysis.

In 2019, technology trends will continue to impact publishing in a number of key areas. Here are a few trends to watch out for:

Artificial intelligence/big data
For the last couple of years, publishers and developers have looked at how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be implemented in the publishing process. Though many companies have shared ideas and services for how AI can be used - from predicting bestsellers to better recommendations on retail sites to improving workflow - publishers have only just begun to see the value it can bring to the process, and practical implementation has been more limited than expected. I would expect in 2019 that publishers will continue to realise the value in the data they have and continue to both expand data collection and analysis as well as to find new and better ways to utilise the data to create products that are better aligned with specific markets - thereby increasing the value to each reader, and streamlining organisational processes and costs. By better understanding why readers buy and how they use content, publishers can tailor their marketing accordingly, as well as using robust data to inform their publishing decisions.

Rights and royalties
As the world becomes more complex in terms of the reutilisation of assets, publishers will need to determine ways to effectively manage the rights they own, and license and sublicense to maximize the value of those rights. The complicated world we live in will push for more advanced methods of revenue sharing, payment options, and usage determination, and publishers will be at the forefront of driving this forward. Technology has allowed general rights usage to become more efficiently managed and tracked. Through increased control and understanding of rights and royalties data, publishers will be able to tap into more rights opportunities and claim more revenue.

What will also change is the structure for rights and licensing. For both journal and trade publishers, profit sharing with writers is likely to continue to become more popular in order to limit publishers' initial outlay, give writers more of an investment in promoting their work, and solidify the partnership between authors and publishers.

Open Access
For researchers and users, Open Access has provided increased access to information. For publishers and libraries, it has caused a shift in thinking about traditional revenue models related to that research. It seems likely we will see increased push for revenue through alternative sources such as advertising as well as a risk that sacrifices may be made to the quality of the published works to contain costs. At present, the effects of cost-shifting and the quantity of resarch that will be available through Open Access are unclear. It will be interesting this year to observe the shifts in the model and how they will affect publishers, access to content, bifurcation of freely available and paid-for content, utilisation of the content for derivative works, and the quality of content.

Remote working and variable staffing
With continuing focus on cost containment, on the environmental impacts of commuting, and on selecting the best talent, 2019 will likely see further emphasis on remote working and on ramping up and down aspects of businesses through the employment of third parties. These models have been greatly enabled through the wide availability of instant communication methods and video conferencing as well as screen-sharing tools.

Mergers, acquisitions and divestitures
The trend of mergers, acquisitions and divestitures is also expected to continue. As companies increase the focus on defining their core value propositions, they continue to evaluate how best to grow that core and to move away from non-core activities. Additionally, technology trends enabling better and more seamless integration of multiple entities allows corporations to make and execute integration strategies better. This trend encourages entities to value solutions that enable complex company structures and allow individual units to operate with appropriate degrees of independence.

2019 looks to be an exciting year, full of changes, opportunities, and challenges that publishers will grapple with to find ways to improve revenue and efficiency.

Scott Winner is the CEO of Ingenta, the world-leading provider of content solutions.

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