by Mike Groth
Recently, we at KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd. were very excited to welcome the PubFactory hosting platform to KGL’s end-to-end portfolio of publisher services. As we wrapped up the PubFactory Virtual Series publisher forum earlier this month, I asked the platform’s technical and creative leader, Tom Beyer what it’s like to join KGL, what makes PubFactory different, and where online hosting technology is taking scholarly publishers and their users.
MG: Welcome to the KGL team! What’s in store for PubFactory and its publisher community as part of a larger content services and technology provider?
TB: As a product person, I’m excited by the opportunities to expand the PubFactory platform to take advantage of capabilities of the new larger organization. In particular, I think that we will be looking to integrate with the Smart Suite set of applications. Anything we can do to more fully automate the process of getting content online and reducing the transition time between steps is a big win for our publishers. I’m also intrigued by the AI expertise that KGL has and figuring out how to use that to further enrich the content that comes to us. The platform is to a certain extent gated by the quality of the content we receive and if we can help our publishers improve that through AI and automation, that will be transformational.
And finally I’m excited by the potential for integration with and possible new products stemming from the KGL Learning Solutions group. As it turns out we are seeing very early signs of this as they are working with one of our publishers, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) on interactives that we’ve already published on the platform. I think the opportunities here for CME and assessment as well as interactive learning products is really interesting.
MG: What does PubFactory bring to KGL?
TB: As a hosting platform we provide the capability to put content online and make it discoverable and monetizable. Being able to do this in an integrated way with the production team reduces the complexity for publishers. The same group that is producing and building the content is handling its online presentation and distribution—there’s no more three-way circle of confusion between the publisher, content services, and online host. We can also provide a hub for all external interactions with users, directing authors to submission systems, librarians to account information, and users to the content.
MG: What’s new in the PubFactory community? What new launches and site features are coming online?
TB: We’ve had a busy year and this only seems to be continuing into next year as well. We’ve already seen the launch of American Society of Nephrology’s NephSAP (Nephrology Self-Assessment Program) site, NCTM’s book and journal site, Akadémiai Kiadó’s 80+ journals, and American Society of Health-System Pharmacists’ publications site. At the end of the year and in the winter we will be launching American Meteorological Society’s journals, a video library for Human Kinetics, Kidney News Online, and American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene’s journal.
MG: What is the strategic direction of the platform?
TB: As can be seen in the scope of enhancements that we delivered this year and are looking to deliver in the future, the platform is getting both broader and deeper. We made a concerted effort to add new content types and to support more flexible workflows for news, video, audio, and interactive content. This responds to our publishers’ needs to find additional ways to help their authors communicate their work. At the same time, as these online platforms and products become ever more strategic it is important that we can provide the deep analytics that our publishers need. And finally, we have always been the most flexible platform in the industry and that has only become more important as our publishers’ needs change ever more rapidly.
MG: What new features are in development?
TB: The platform continues to evolve. This year I’m especially excited with the addition of a new Business Intelligence reporting module, the new Pattern Library and News modules, and a new advanced Alerting module. Another important aspect of the platform is that it provides a hub for communication across the scholarly communication landscape. We are constantly looking to make communication across systems and services easier, deeper, and broader. I really see the publisher platform as the nerve center of their digital presence. Looking farther ahead, we are getting ready to roll out a whole new front end technology that will allow us to start building next-generation interfaces and provide a breakthrough in the level of performance that the platform can provide.
MG: What industry developments are you most looking forward to in 2021?
TB: I think that much of 2021 will be filled with pursuing the opportunities that our new organization provides. I do think that the existing AI expertise and our unique ability to integrate with the full production workflow will provide really exciting opportunities for growth. In the wider industry, we are happy to see that accessibility, which has always been something that we have advocated for, is increasingly important alongside the wider discussion of diversity and inclusion. And finally, I expect that the ongoing trend towards Open Access will only increase – we are excited that many of our publishers have been at the forefront of evolving new models for OA and look forward to working with them to increase the platform support for such initiatives.
Tom Beyer is co-founder of the PubFactory business, and shepherd of the technology roadmap. As lead platform strategist, he works across all areas of PubFactory operations, and is a constant consultant to publishers as well as to industry partners. He can be reached at email@example.com.