On Friday 12th October, I was strolling around in Hall 4.2, where traditionally education, science and specialist information is located.
I saw a bunch of students sitting in front of a huge screen with 3D glasses on, obviously enjoying this kind of instruction method in their cyber classroom. I saw a presentation by CERN, explaining how they are currently searching for the Higgs boson, the last remaining particle to complete the standard model of particle physics. And what was to discover at the specialist information side? Well, I saw a booth where someone showed how to optimize author corrections in print publishing.
Okay, I know that this comparison is not fair. But it shows to some degree the disruption of our business, having to support the old processes and paradigms around publishing on the one hand and at the same time the need to offer innovative solutions for the future.
I had the privilege to be part of a panel discussion, which reflected this dilemma to some degree. The discussion was moderated by well-known David Worlock and the introductory keynote was held by Brian O’Leary. The topic was around “Networked Publishing”, meaning that the former sequential process from authoring through editing to publishing is replaced by a network approach, where e.g. customers can influence the process in every single step, so that in the end he gets what he really needs. We agreed (including Ingrid Goldstein from Oxford University Press and Fionnuala Duggan from CourseSmart as the other panelists) that it requires at least two major ingredients to master this transition: a detailed knowledge about the customer and his existing and future needs as a basis and a proper company strategy as a guideline to find a pragmatic path for this moving target.
I think that the innovation initiatives within Wolters Kluwer around mobility and search help the company as a whole to get a proper direction. Also, local efforts like Jurion do exactly that. At CERN, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web, which changed the world we live in. Nowadays, he propagates the Semantic Web and Linked Open Data as the next generation information layer. Wolters Kluwer is part of this development by being part of LOD2.
For me, Frankfurt Book Fair is a perfect means to look into the past as well as into the future at the same time. It shows me the way we already mastered in the last years and by looking in adjacent businesses it gives me guidance what to explore next. I will return next year!