It used to be that when approaching any significant change regarding a publisher’s content - whether it be metadata clean-up, format conversion to a newer standard, or migrating to a new platform - the project was conceived as an all-or-nothing undertaking that would often take years of time and a significant budget to accomplish.
In recent years, however, we’ve witnessed a trend toward a more piecemeal, iterative approach that not only makes such projects more palatable to publishers, their budgets, and their executive stakeholders, but also allows all organizations involved to actively incorporate learnings as they go, making the process increasingly accurate, efficient, and cost-effective.
Content Conversion - One Byte at a Time
ALL your content in one place
Having provided publishers with content transformation services and solutions for more than 40 years, DCL is a proponent of this iterative approach to content conversion. Using the latest innovations in AI (including machine learning and natural language processing), DCL helps publishers to organize and structure content for modern technologies and platforms, and many of DCL’s customers gain value and ultimately reduce time and errors when following this approach.
The following organizations took an agile and iterative approach to conversion:
The American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) and DCL converted all its pediatric clinical medical information and brought all content onto a single platform to provide their audience with a consistent reading and browsing experience. Working with AAP and Silverchair to optimize both legacy and current assets from multiple product lines helps ignite the discovery of AAP’s content gems through a consistent, configurable, connected, and expandable knowledge platform.
The American Water Works Association's (AWWA) conversion to NISO STS was first performed on AWWA’s legacy content. AWWA acted on the hypothesis that it was best to convert the archive content first, because that would provide time to work though the issues that were sure to arise from an initial content conversion without interrupting the new production workflow. AWWA could perfect the process with archive content, then go back and fit that process onto the current production workflow.
Optica, formerly The Optical Society of America and DCL decided that performing a full inventory of all material and building detailed specifications for each situation would take months, add significant cost, and ultimately be deficient. Methodical sampling seemed a fair compromise with the understanding that continual reassessment would be needed for its massive legacy conversion. Within 18 months of engaging DCL, OSA had converted 6 years of its most-recent journal content and developed two well-received new offerings on its Optics InfoBase platform. Yet the central challenge was to maintain a highly collaborative and agile approach to conversion specifications as one surprise after another was encountered in the legacy content.
The key business drivers for XML are to improve interoperability and facilitate discoverability, making errors and issues with content structure costly for content providers. In order for publishers to strategize and plan for organizational change to the development, production, and distribution of content, they must first have a clear picture of content structure across the entire collection. From there, they can evaluate the best path forward for bringing their content up to date with modern formats and for ensuring consistency across their digital library. This is why DCL developed Content Clarity, a service that provides publishers with content structure metrics that impact interoperability and discoverability.
The challenges around content gain urgency during a platform migration, where legacy content must be converted / updated in order to be loaded onto the new platform. The recently published NISO Recommended Practice for Content Platform Migrations lays out the core concepts, approaches, and tasks to facilitate a successful migration with minimal disruption and with all the key stakeholders.
One of NISO's recommendations is for publishers to provide “a detailed inventory report to the party that is normalizing their content” and “share important variances” with legacy content. This can be an arduous task when you’re already in the midst of an RFP and migration preparations, making inventories and assessments like Content Clarity an excellent first step on the journey to update your digital library.
Platform Migrations - A Phased Approach
All your content in ONE place
Content conversion and preparation is the prerequisite to most content platform migrations. After years on a platform, many publishers find that their content has not kept up with current standards and practices, making it more difficult to discover and take advantage of modern analytics tools.
Silverchair is a publishing platform company that has been supporting the scholarly publishing industry since 1993 and has migrated dozens of scholarly and professional publishers to the platform. Like DCL, in the past few years they’ve seen more clients approaching this task not as a single massive undertaking, but as a phased, iterative process.
This is due to many factors. One is certainly annual budgets and the ability to learn from projects as you go and take advantage of that learning in further migrations. Another is that for many publishers, journals, books, and news / member content exist in entirely separate silos within an organization, making it difficult to get a unified approach, timeline, and budget for the entirety of a publisher’s assets.
A number of Silverchair’s publisher clients have taken this phased migration approach. ASM International, for example, has a multi-year plan to move a diverse range of content types off a multitude of legacy platforms into a central digital library. ASM publishes books, data sheets, databases, articles, case histories, and news, and for many years these publications sat on disparate systems, unrelated, with different user experiences and no way to search across sets. Recognizing that this was a disservice to the ASM customer, the publisher has been working on migrating batches of content to bring a better experience (and commensurate usage) to their products.
Other publishers start with a limited set of content but then embark on a path toward further content unification. For example, the American Society of Hematology launched their new journal site then quickly added their newsletter, their news magazine, and, most recently, their educational products and books. Likewise, the MIT Press first launched their books, then later migrated their journals to the same platform.
At the end of the unification process, publishers see a spike in engagement with their customers, as they have a single login, new product opportunities, deeper search capabilities, and more robust collections. The publisher often reaps cost savings in workflow efficiencies and platform hosting costs as well.
How Can YOU Get All Your Content in One Place?
Like these examples, your organization can achieve meaningful results from investing in a unified, modern content platform:
Improve user experience
Simplify your digital library
Unify your data
Expand your audience
Upgrade content interoperability
Facilitate content discovery
Structure content for modern platforms
Enrich content metadata