Guest article published on www.publishingblog.ch
Digitalization has spawned a host of new publishing channels. At the same time, populating these channels with content that is relevant involves significant effort if a media company tries to do so manually. Based on our experience with customers, we already know that using conventional word processing programs to prepare documents for multiple channels consumes a lot of time and money.
But at Xpublisher, we wanted to dig a little deeper. Together with Digital Publishing Report (dpr), we launched a survey about the status quo of document handling – from automated and collaborative creation to distribution.
In September 2021, a total of 87 individuals representing a variety of publishers responded to our questions and shared some intriguing insights.
Automation in the publishing process
The first question read: “What is the role of automation in your company’s publishing process, from creation to the publication of your content?”
The majority – 60 percent of respondents – consider automation to be of major importance and already make use of it in some areas. For 20 percent, automation is important and implementation is planned for the near future. Ten percent see opportunities in automation, but more on a long-term basis. And for another ten percent, automation is still playing a minor role.
The survey indicates that while 90 percent of the respondents consider automation to be a key consideration, the extent to which it has been realized in practice varies. Even the processes that have already been automated differ from publisher to publisher.
Drilling down on automation
To uncover the specifics, we then posed this question: “What are the areas in which your company already utilizes automation?” The multiple choice format allowed for multiple responses.
A total of 44 percent already automate the production and layout, while 20 percent automate the publication process. Content recycling or second-time use was cited by 12 percent of respondents as an area in which processes were automated. Automation occurs in the review process for 8 percent and in a different part of the publishing process for another 4 percent. The remaining 12 percent of respondents are currently not using automated workflows.
These answers clearly indicate: For publishers, the areas of production and layout are the prime drivers of automation. On the other hand, there is great potential for automation in the publishing process and in content recycling and repurposing. These results imply that in many cases, when it comes to automating the entire process from document creation to document distribution, publishers still lack the right foundation and the right tool.
That foundation is composed of structured data. Extracting information from static Word or PDF documents is both tedious and error-prone. To avoid that, structuring and componentizing needs to be done at the content generation stage. In concrete terms, this means that content needs to be created for specific target groups and adapted to its intended use such that it can be read by people and machines alike.
The structure that is needed for this is derived from semantically marked information. Semantic marking makes documents machine-readable and allows them to be easily prepared for further processing – including distribution in a variety of channels and formats.
With Xeditor, generating and editing structured, semantic content is fast and requires no technical skills. Content is automatically broken down into small, granular units of information in a “Word-like” form based on a semantic structure. With Xeditor, the process is straightforward and intuitive – and it works across teams and from any location.
The answers to our third question show just how important teamwork is when it comes to creating and publishing content, but also reveal that there’s still room for improvement:
While 38 percent are collaborating on content creation, 24 percent are working together in the production and layout processes. Another 19 percent of the survey respondents use teamwork in the review process. For 14 percent, no collaboration takes place (yet).
Content generation in particular is typically a collaborative effort that involves many people – from the author to the editor. Xeditor makes this collaboration simpler and more efficient. Thanks to its web-based architecture, the editor organizes XML documents online and stores them centrally, for instance in Xpublisher. The integrated workflow engine, based on the BPMN standard, constitutes the core building block of the editorial system.
It automates processes and encourages cooperation among those involved. It also eliminates the hassle of sending documents by e-mail, which makes it a lot easier for all team members to work together regardless of their location. In a nutshell, it lets authors focus entirely on the content.
The bottom line
The findings from our survey with dpr underscore the fact that automated processes deliver greater efficiency for publishers, making them indispensable and inevitable. Nonetheless, when it comes to creating and distributing documents, automation and collaboration offer tremendous potential for the media industry.
Click here to discover just how quickly and easily you can automate your publishing process across a variety of channels using our Xeditor and Xpublisher products.