Research and analysis firms: build an in-house publishing platform or outsource? (Part two)

When considering whether to develop an in-house publishing solution, or to outsource, it can be hard to know which route to take – there are so many variables, aren’t there?

If you only want customers to buy single downloadable PDFs of your latest report, either an outsourced or homemade solution could work just as well; but if your firm wants to engage and delight customers with new forms of content that are quick and easy to use, it might be worth reading on…

In a blog post published earlier this month, we examined how some cost implications and issues around time to market associated with building a proprietary system could be unfavourable. This time round, we’ll explore a handful of further reasons why building a proprietary system could be disadvantageous for a research or an analysis firm looking to gain competitive advantage.

Control and responsibility

There can be little doubt that developing an in-house platform can provide a business information publisher with ultimate control, but with that comes the responsibility to meet (and exceed) customer expectations by maintaining and developing the system so it’s at least as good as those provided by the competition.

That level of development and creativity is a big responsibility – as is managing the constant investment needed to fund the enterprise. Does your firm have the time and energy for this?.

Future proofing

It isn’t enough for teams working on a publishing platform to simply keep pace with innovation. For long-term gain, a business information provider must be able to predict the future direction of their technology and lead that change. In addition, any system that can’t rapidly implement new features made necessary by the wider technological ecosystem will quickly become obsolete.

The same pressures apply to both in-house systems and outsourced publishing platforms, however, development is the core purpose of those working on the latter technology while those developing the former are usually a bolt-on to an organisation with a different focus.

Business information providers should ask themselves: do they want to invest time, money, energy, and focus equipping themselves with technology for tomorrow, or should they leave those tasks to the experts and concentrate on making their research the best it can be?

End-user engagement

It doesn’t matter how good your content is – if the technology through which it’s provided makes it difficult to access, the customer experience will be diminished and your competitive edge blunted.

A research or analysis firm’s platform should enhance content; it should make it easy to find, easy to understand, and quick and easy to export in a variety of user-friendly ways.

Outsourcing your platform is the easiest way to ensure your content delights your end-users. Why? Because years of providing outsourced solutions has helped the development company refine their offering. Also, if the technology they provide failed to meet and exceed user expectations, they probably wouldn’t still be in the development business.

Sales impact

Creating a system that can actively help publishers improve sales can take years of development. Publish Interactive has been developing its content platform, Publish Interactive, for more than 12 years to the point where new partners can feel a benefit to sales within weeks. How long would that take if they were developing their own systems? The time frames are incomparable.

Using an outsourced provider can help sales in a number of ways: a publisher’s whole portfolio is also made available in an instant, and researchers can quickly and easily find the information they need, leading to greater and prolonged use. Content analysis can help firms quickly identify popular content with great revenue potential, pinpoint any content gaps, and target content at specific users. Upselling and cross-selling opportunities are also enhanced, including the encouragement of ad-hoc buyers to become subscribers.