Intelligent Growth … harnessing the power of data to make book publishing more personal, predictive and profitable
November 22, 2018
This year’s Future Book Forum, now in its 6th year and hosted by Canon at their Experience Centre near Munich in Germany, brought together over 400 international publishers, book printers, book distributors and industry influencers to explore the topic of intelligent growth and how to accelerate growth in their businesses in a digital world.
Dan Kearon, co-founder of Unbound said “I think it’s incredibly important that you have something like The Future Book Forum where people can be honest. It’s the honestly that’s always missing. Everybody is terrified of the future, but publishers need to accept the feeling of discomfort, because that is how you change.”
Bringing together the book publishing community, the event focused on the industry’s potential to leverage data to transform the future of publishing and open up new revenue streams.
I hosted the event over two packed and inspiring days of presentations and workshops, where attendees discussed the power of data, the value in building direct relationships with readers and why establishing a community is a publisher’s most important asset. They also explored how to sustain a continuous omni-channel experience, using industry examples to show how businesses have used data to enhance content to drive growth. A key discussion point was how book producers can implement a print-on-demand business model using the latest digital print solutions, to optimise stock management and streamline automated workflows for further production efficiencies.
The Future Book Forum is an exciting collaborative event that drives innovation across the whole publishing industry. Creating new relationships between businesses in our community helps to deliver better omni-channel content experiences for consumers. When publishers work together in new ways, our partnerships become just as powerful as our innovations.
Intelligent growth in publishing relies on us looking more holistically at individuals, not just as readers, but as consumers. It’s about putting the customer first and creating valuable consumer experiences that enhance the value of the physical book. Big data and artificial intelligence can help to deliver better digitally-enabled content experiences. What we’ve learnt from this year’s Future Book Forum is that now is the time to take the leap and access the new opportunities that arise from using insight and data. It’s not how you collect the data that leads to success but how you intelligently use it.
The event featured a host of prominent influencers from the publishing, marketing and technology industries discussing the power of data and community in driving the publishing industry forward, including:
- Peter Fisk, Professor of Strategy and Innovation, IE Business School
- Nick Morris, Founding Partner, Canvas8
- Mark Allin, former CEO, John Wiley
- Rainer Kellerhals, Industry Lead Media & Cable EMEA, Microsoft
- Tom Betts, Chief Data Officer, Financial Times
- Sven Fund, Founder & Managing Director, Fullstop
- Dan Kieran, CEO, Unbound
- Marie Chassot, Head of Baume, Baume & Mercier
- Leanne McNulty, Corporate and Trusts Associate, Room to Read
Nick Morris, Founding Partner at Canvas8, explored how publishers can use consumer insights and behaviours to their advantage. He explained, “Today’s publishers do not face competition with other publishers – the competition is for people’s time. A recent survey among publishers showed that product and data were their top priorities. Understanding audiences is the master key to unlocking their potential. Publishers need to do more to deliver considered products and reader experiences, but they will only be able to do so by first understanding their audience through consumer insights. Get this right and you’ve got an opportunity for intelligent growth, but get it wrong, and you could end up damaging your brand.”
Mark Allin, former CEO of global publishing company John Wiley, discussed why publishers need to be more radical with their strategies and business models, saying, “Publishers need to have the confidence to try new ideas and get rid of old ways of working. But this requires a cultural change within the industry and dedicated resources to successfully innovate. Publishers must use the tools and technology available to them to get closer to their reader community to foster innovation and drive growth. Niche communities drive content, but building a strong network is just as important as providing relevant content.”
Tom Betts, Chief Data Officer at the Financial Times, used the example of the Financial Times to show how a data-driven approach can turn customer insight into profitable growth, saying: “Data should play a central role in any business strategy. There’s lots of data to be gathered on consumers outside of their reading interests and it’s not only about how it’s gathered, but how it is used. Data can help publishers develop a deep understanding of their customers – to make recommendations or predict consumers’ next steps and to better understand their future content journey so as to be able to create a more tailored, richer and more valuable experience. No publisher should be without a data capability – it’s the extent to which you use it that will determine how successful you are.”
Sven Fund, Founder & Managing Director of Fullstop and the popular keynote speaker at the 2017 event, returned to discuss the need for systematic innovation management in established publishing houses. Fund explained, “Some areas of publishing are becoming more data driven. For example, analytics and algorithms can now be used to examine reader behaviour, such as when and how quickly a book was read, and evaluate whether it will be a bestseller. As a result, one of the trends we are noticing is how the reader is being rediscovered as a partner in the publishing process. Authors can now use data to craft their content based on understanding consumer behaviours. For publishers, it’s not about producing more titles, it’s about targeting readers in a more precise way.”
Peter Wolff, Senior Director, Customer Group Commercial Print and Production CRD, Canon Europe comments: “Future Book Forum provides an opportunity for the whole publishing community to come together, sharing their experiences on how the market is changing, inspiring other delegates with real-world examples, and demonstrating how to embrace change with digital technologies. Over the past six years, participation has grown year on year, proving that the event has become an effective platform for exploring innovations and how these drive new business opportunities. As in other business sectors, leveraging customer data will help publishers to turn a new page, driving customer-orientated innovation that will stimulate commercial growth.”