Platform Services Director, Tom Beyer gives us an idea of what to expect at this year’s user group meeting
by Mike Groth
The PubFactory online hosting platform, established in 2010, has been holding an annual customer meeting—either in-person or virtual—for many years. This eagerly anticipated event is one of the great benefits of belonging to the PubFactory community and continues under ownership of KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd. (KGL).
Once again, from October 13-15, over 60 scholarly publishing stakeholders will convene a three-day Virtual Series to share knowledge, hear from platform partners and industry experts, and learn the latest developments in the PubFactory roadmap during a variety of information-packed and interactive remote sessions. Recently, KGL’s Mike Groth asked platform co-founder and technical lead, Tom Beyer what we can expect this year.
MG: How has the user group meeting evolved over the years to better serve the community?
TB: We originally tied the meetings to scholarly conferences like SSP and FBF. This made it easy for some of our publishers to attend but made it harder for others. We have a broad mix of publishers both geographically and from a content perspective. A couple of years ago, we decided to do our own event in DC. It was a great space and a great meeting but again more difficult for our UK and European publishers to attend.
Last year, Covid forced the event online. It was sad to not see everyone in person, but the upside was that we had great attendance. We kept the presentations short and punchy and encouraged lots of participation from the audience which worked out great. This year we’ve tried to break things up thematically: platform developments, industry insights, and looking toward the future on separate days. We are keeping it to a few hours each day to make it easy on people.
MG: What are some of the platform advances over the past year?
TB: We’ve made some significant enhancements to the platform over the last eighteen months including the addition of three new modules: IntelWorks, IntelAlerts, and PubGen. We will be highlighting how our publishers are using these modules as well as the many other enhancements made throughout the platform. It’s important to take the time to show everyone the new features and how they are being used. Everyone is so busy that it can be hard to really consider how this or that enhancement, or new module could help their publishing program. That’s one of the most important aspects of the Virtual Series.
MG: How have publishers been innovating on the platform to better serve their users?
TB: It’s been fascinating to see how things are evolving. One aspect, that I’ve been particularly interested in, is the rise of less traditional content types to augment and support core content. This ranges from interactives attached to articles, to better support for news and blog content, tying it more closely to the related book and journal content, and for better support for video content. Discovery is so important to most of our publishers and supporting these less traditional content types can really help broaden the funnel for getting people to the relevant content.
But it’s important to understand the workflow and production needs for each of the different kinds of content and to figure out how to best support that in the platform—these workflows are often quite different from how the core book and journal content is processed. The PubGen module was a direct outgrowth from those discussions. Our flexibility and willingness to understand the production needs of our publishers is something that sets us apart in the industry.
MG: Who are the guest speakers and platform partners that you have invited to share information with the group?
TB: We are excited to have a great range of speakers presenting throughout the series. Monica Westin from Google Scholar will be updating our publishers on our latest initiatives together with what is, after all, the most important discovery tool for their sites. It’s also great to have Cadmore Media back to talk in depth about a project that we worked on together this year with the Journal of Neurosurgery Publishing Group. This provides a whole new level of support for scholarly video content and has implications for accessibility, discoverability, and searchability (is that even a word?) moving forward. Stuart Maxwell of Scholarly iQ will be providing an in-depth look at the more advanced aspects of our IntelWorks business intelligence module. Finally, Heather Staines will be giving a quick tutorial on GetFTR and Seamless Access which we are looking to support in the near future.
In addition to our outside speakers, we will also be hearing from folks within the broader KGL and Sheridan universe – this is one of our great advantages; to have such a wide range of services to be able to draw upon, in addition to our core hosting capabilities. We will be hearing from Waseem Andrabi on KGL accessibility services, Kelly Lake from KnowledgeWorks Global Learning solutions group, and Carly Baile from Sheridan subscriber services.
MG: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Virtual Series?
TB: One of my favorite sessions is the Lessons Learned panel where we get a group of publishers together to discuss their experience coming on board the platform. We usually get a lively discussion and it’s great to see the sharing that goes on between the publishers who have been with us for a while and the new ideas that are bubbling up as the result of these latest launches. Sharing our roadmap with our publishers is always a popular topic. Everyone wants to know what’s coming around the bend. But the thing that I’m secretly most excited about is the trivia contest—there’s a cool Bluetooth speaker as a prize!
The KGL PubFactory Virtual Series will run from October 13-15, 2021. If you are a publisher on or considering the PubFactory platform, please visit our #PFVirtualSeries2021 event page to check out the agenda and RSVP.