Going remote: moving to remote working in just five days (and two years)!

By mid-March, it was becoming clear that the UK government was going to introduce a ‘lockdown’ to combat the threat from Coronavirus. As a business we had two major concerns; the safety and health of staff and continuing to provide a business-critical software platform for our customers.

A national lockdown meant that our team were no longer able to work from our head office in Leeds, requiring the business to move all employees to remote working from Monday 23rd March. The week prior everyone worked hard over the five days to ensure we had in place the technical, management and administrative requirements for business continuity. We succeeded, but in reality, it didn’t take us five days – it’s taken two years of preparation.

In December 2017, we adopted Microsoft Teams as the start of our project to increase collaboration and remote working options, as well as put in place measures to ensure business continuity should distribution strike. By January 2019, we had already created a working environment built on cloud services. Many staff were already choosing to work from home one or two days a week and there are team members based in Cambridge, Norwich and Berlin. Furthermore, we have a fantastic network of freelancers, such as designers, developers and writers who are part integrated into our systems.

Transitioning the entire company to working remotely, without any major disruption was technically possible and so far, successful.

Remote working culture challenges

So, the challenge of a sudden, enforced move to a fully remote working is not really technical, it’s the rapid cultural change needed that will test us as individuals.

How can we ensure that all team members (including senior managers) remain task-focused and motivated and not distracted by their domestic circumstances? Many team members are anxious about the Coronavirus situation and worried about being stuck at home for many days. The lockdown situation has added an extra dimension to homeworking for some team members, in particular – parents caring or educating their children and those living, and now working on their own.

Our first response has been to introduce twice-daily informal ‘huddles’ which help the team to react quickly to daily changes and keep up morale through friendly banter.

“As a business, we are feeling our way day-by-day. And, although its only week one, the transition has been fairly smooth with all team members trying their hardest to be positive and professional”, said managing director Mitali Mookerjee. “Our company values of positive​, open​, wellbeing​, innovation​ and empathy​ – POWIE for short – are certainly being tested”, she observed.

“We all have to show support and understanding to each other as we are all in this experience together,” commented the founder Daniel Lord. “Let’s hope for a quick end to this crisis and a brighter future”, he added.

Five tips for our enforced remote working are:

  • Run a daily ‘social’ video call with all team members where the team can chat about our day, make jokes and ‘shoot the breeze’.
  • Block out time in diaries for morning breaks, lunches, walks etc.
  • Abide by a clear start and finish time so team members can separate home and work lives.
  • Use of ‘Set status message’ in collaborative software to communicate your activities (i.e. I’m having lunch).
  • Encourage all team members to be open about any problems they are having.

Important update regarding business continuity because of the outbreak of COVID-19

The situation with the outbreak of Coronavirus is escalating; therefore, we are closely monitoring the situation and following the latest guidance from the WHO (World Health Organization) and UK authorities.

Our focus is the welfare of our employees and ensuring the continuity of service for our customers.

Steps we are taking regarding staff:

  • All staff have been provided with the tools to work remotely and securely from home if necessary, therefore ensuring the provision of our services throughout any potential ‘lock-down’ period.
  • We have instigated regular communication to employees reiterating public health guidance. We have in place additional hygiene measures in offices, for example, hand sanitiser and wipes.
  • We are following PHE guidance on self-isolation for any employees returning from high-risk areas, or who have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath, even if symptoms are mild.
  • Currently we are not deploying our staff to any physical premises and have ceased in-person meetings.

The Publish Interactive platform
We are fully prepared to enable our staff to work from home or offsite and therefore envisage very little disruption in our operational work. Our platform is hosted by third parties and they have reassured us they can continue to provide uptime.

Therefore, we are confident that customer sites will continue to operate as normal.

Additionally, customers can expect the usual level of support regarding helpdesk tickets and administrative enquires. Our phone and email systems will continue as normal during UK business hours.

7 key trends for B2B research publishers in 2020

7 key trends
for B2B research publishers
in 2020

To mark the end of one decade and in anticipation of the next (is it really 20 years since the Millennium!) we have highlighted trends that are likely to shape high-value business-to-business research publishing over the next 12 months and beyond.

Our seven trends that forward-thinking research publishers should consider as we move into 2020 are…

#1 Continued emphasis on subscriptions

Publishers will continue to try and persuade low value customers to become subscribers that provide recurring revenues. There are multiple routes to this goal, including the development of membership programmes with dynamic pricing, or planning an upgrade path from first interaction to fully-fledged high-value customer.

Technology enables this process to run more smoothly by personalising the user journey and establishing a upsell mechanism that encourages single copy customers to develop a deeper relationship with the publisher.

#2 The customer at the heart of decisions

The next 12 months will see greater emphasis on customer centricity and developing this mindset across the organisation. This will mean publishers spending as much time as possible with their customers to really understand the value they provide.

Customer centricity isn’t just about cementing external relationships: product teams will be working alongside customer-facing teams to ensure products are on point. We anticipate that those in customer-facing roles, such as sales, should become more involved in product design and development.

#3 Embedding interactive data

We expect publishers to really start tackling the technical challenge of how to allow users secure and seamless access to different content types. Specifically, we are thinking about how interactive data can be made securely available alongside written analysis – or embedded within.

By making use of single sign-on systems and/or technical integrations, users can be provided with access to the specific content they need even more quickly and easily.

#4 Making use of accessible AI

In 2020 artificial intelligence and the computing power needed to run advanced algorithms will become more accessible than ever before.

Publishers will have the potential to develop search that understands what is contained in a piece of content and the nature of its relationship to other content types. Deepening the quality of search can help users cut through content noise to specific information that answers their questions.

#5 Shortening time-to-publish workflows

Customers of syndicated market research will increasingly demand more timely data and insight. This puts pressure on publishers to reduce the time spent developing, producing and publishing content. A digital-first workflow – enter-once-distribute-anywhere – will be the goal.

In 2020, publishers will start to look harder for efficiencies in the authoring and production process. This could take the form of automated content reviews, in-platform authoring or on-the-fly design.

#6 Differentiation through content design

We anticipate high-value publishers will place greater emphasis on content design as a branding mechanism. This should help create a sense of authority, value and quality that will set them apart from less compelling sources that are either free or low cost.

We expect content to be more specifically designed for screen consumption, rather than print. As such, data and storytelling content is likely to become more visual with fewer words.

#7 Analytics at the heart of everything

Readership and content usage stats will be increasingly used by publishers to manage their business. Customer usage data will underpin subscription renewal discussions as perceived use of content will be challenged by data on actual use.

Taking cues from the B2C world, editors will use data on topic or article popularity to help with content commissioning.

Authored by

Edwin Bailey
Director of Strategy
Mitali Mookerjee
Managing Director

How we created a brilliant new office space

To enable the business to continue its growth and development, Publish Interactive has moved to a new office location. We packed up all our stuff, took the short walk south through the city centre of Leeds, and cut a ribbon to mark the opening of our new headquarters at Marshall’s Mill.

Tech to facilitate better working

We decided to move to give us the space, environment, and infrastructure needed to continue our journey as a business and to make it easier for people to work for us – and with us.

Our new location has a new high-tech phone system, state-of-the-art video conferencing facilities, multiple dedicated meeting rooms and an enviable one gigabyte download speed.

“We’re ahead of the curve with a decentralised phone system allowing us to work remotely without being tied to geographic phone lines or devices. Our new accessible meeting spaces are equipped for any eventuality – with wireless screen casting and meeting management software. And our internet speed is so quick, our neighbours are jealous.”

said Tom Gibbs, Publish Interactive’s Director of Operations.

Delivering value every day

The new office features a dedicated space for online demonstrations, rooms equipped for informal online and offline meetings and conference room. In fact, our new home has been specifically modelled to help us work in a smarter, yet more relaxed way.

Our dedicated scrum board area has been installed to enable our developers, planners, and testers to work in an even more agile and responsive way.

“In our new dedicated planning space, we can visualise our work items and know in an instant who is working on a particular task and the status of the overall project. This helps us with prioritising the tasks that need finishing, so we can continue to deliver value to our customers every day.”

said Mark Chadwick, Publish Interactive’s Product Owner.

Environment is everything

When you spend a lot of time in the office, it’s nice to be surrounded by things that help foster and encourage a creative environment. That means music, lots of plant life, and a room for Flash – the office dog. We’ve started to think that Flash might just have the best seat in the house…

Come and visit us:

Enhancing research loyalty with data

Enhancing research loyalty with data

When it’s time for a research publisher to renew a subscriber account,
good quality user data can play a critical role.

An account manager who can establish what content has been accessed by users – and their engagement levels – is well-placed to accurately convey to the customer the value of the service they enjoy.

Creating loyalty through understanding

For many publishers, however, establishing even basic usage data can be a challenge that ultimately does nothing to aid the renewal process or boost understanding of the users.

Yet if these challenges can be overcome – and a supply of good quality user data established – a publisher will have the tools needed to help boost engagement and improve customer retention.

In this short guide, we examine three key challenges facing account managers as they attempt to use analytics to establish critical insights and build customer loyalty.

Challenge 1: Faster, easier, and more usable data

A research organisation looking to extract insights from usage data can be negatively impacted if the process to extract them is manual or slow. For data to play a fundamental role in the development of a research business, access needs to be quick, easy, and automated.

Better flow

Improving the ‘flow’ of information can increase use, but this alone won’t herald a data rich age. Information also needs to be presented in a way that helps establish insights immediately.
That means providing the ability to view stats from an account and user perspective or to easily switch to review usage by topic and/or content category.

Visualizing data

Whatever data is sought, it’s a must to display this via a dashboard that summarises activity and enables more considered investigation. Account managers don’t want to rely on asking colleagues for stats, to wait for them to arrive, then be forced to format them in a spreadsheet before they make any sense. Account managers need immediate access and insights.

Challenge 2: Refocus on engagement

Data provides insights that help forge closer ties with customers, but often they’re only used to review client performance or to demonstrate value ahead of a contract renewal.

Usage of this kind is, of course, vital; but if data is only used in this way then a fundamental part of its potential is wasted…

Re-engage to retain.

Regularly reviewing usage stats can help account managers identify, at an early stage, poorly performing accounts and disengaged customers the publisher is at risk of losing.

Sometimes the limited usage challenge is the result of poor data. If the only available stats come from the CRM system, they’re unlikely to have the necessary depth to help identify a disconnected customer.

If detected early, the opportunity exists to turn a disenchanted user into a satisfied customer; but to do this account managers need to be empowered with tools that provide real insights.

Challenge 3: Standardisation

What to measure and report

Usage stats can establish the strength of a publisher’s customer relationships and help identify opportunities for improvement, but none of this is possible without a structured approach to data gathering.

Statistical performance highlights aren’t enough: standardisation is critical. That means a common set of datapoints regularly gathered and reported to help an account manager understand, at any given time, what content is most compelling, what isn’t working, which users are most compelled, and those that are not.

Establishing and reporting even basic datapoints like this can help account managers to accurately establish customer insights that, in turn, can drive their business forward.

As the developer of a leading SaaS research publishing and content management platform, Publish Interactive is well-placed to help research firms maximise their relationships with customers.

2018 – shaping the future

shaping the future

New products, closer relationships,
and meeting users’ shifting expectations…

To mark the end of an exciting year at Publish Interactive, our directors explain how the year just gone will shape 2019, and beyond.


Emma Forber
Director of Client Services

‘What marks out 2018 is deepening customer relationships’

Over the past 12 months, we’ve signed some great new customers, renewed contracts, upgraded technology for others, and launched a string of interactive research portals. By any measure, it’s been a busy year, but what has marked out 2018 was the ever-deepening relationships we have forged with our customers.

The quality of our relationships is paramount, but during 2018 we’ve sought to deepen them further by establishing customer connections at each level of the business and across multiple departments. We now have an active customer panel to feed back into the development of our solution and our teams in operations, development, commercial, marketing, and product owners have strong relationships into our client businesses that will help us respond even more directly to their needs throughout 2019 – and beyond.


Tom Gibbs
Director of Operations

‘Much work was under the hood, developing vital infrastructure on which customers rely’

Our policy of continuous development means we rarely sit still. Since January, we’ve introduced a new content product and features to do all sorts of things – including making it easier to brand content and adding several elements to enhance workflow efficiency.

Of course, this is just the work you see; much of our endeavour has been under the hood, developing the technical infrastructure that ensures our platform will continue to grow and integrate smartly with the various technologies relied upon by our partners.

To achieve this, we’ve launched a host of new APIs throughout the year to help customers use our software in the most effective and efficient way possible; but perhaps our most critical work has been our forward architecture planning. Through this process, we’ll ensure that future iterations of our software can increasingly operate through the cloud and deliver the speed and stability our partners will need.


Mitali Mookerjee
Managing Director

‘Developing a deeper understanding of end users’ needs will be a key focus in 2019’

Research consumers (our customers’ customers) need critical business insights supplied in a way that complements, rather than disrupts, their working lives. They need digital research services to slot efficiently and seamlessly into their workflows.

At Publish Interactive, we’ve always taken a lead on developing the technology research publishers need to meet the high expectations of their end users – and 2019 will be no different.

In the next year, we’ll focus on understanding even more about the behaviour and usage of end users, developing on the customer panels established in 2018. We’ll be enhancing our multi-format content capabilities – for example, making better use of landscape views and slide formats for PPT support – that enable publishers to deliver research to their customers in the most accessible and re-usable way possible.


Daniel Lord

‘Our job is to empower analysts to reveal insights in compelling ways’

The explosion in data is well documented and, if anything, the past year has seen an acceleration. In an age of abundant information, analysts who can pinpoint telling and true insights are more vital than ever; but it’s a reality of research that as the nature of data changes, so does the end-user requirement.

Not a generation ago, static report formats delivered static insights: this sector is growing, this one is not. Those answers are of little use now; businesses need insight that reveals something previously unknown that they can customise or run through appropriate filters to make it applicable for them.

The challenge for analysts now is twofold: find new insights and demonstrate them in the best way possible. For an experienced and insightful analyst, the first point is within their reach; but it’s the second where they’ll need help – that’s where we come in.

It’s our job to help analysts reveal new insights in compelling ways. In 2019, We’ll help analysts reinvent themselves by making the most of the opportunities data provides. And while the future of research will certainly be enriched by artificial intelligence, key differentiators will continue to come from human endeavour and the ability of authors to express themselves in formats that enrich their insights and enable the audience to make immediate use of them.

What did our customers think in 2018?

How can AI enhance research firms’ customer relationships?

AI is already enhancing customer relations for multiple business sectors – can it do the same for research?

Organisations of all types are rushing to understand how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can enhance their customer interactions – and the research community is no different.

AI focused

In a previous post, we looked at two examples of how AI is being used in the research-gathering part of the sector.

Naturally, this is where much of the conversation and industry focus is pointed but what happens when that market intelligence has been compiled and it’s ready to be made public?

Can AI maximise the opportunity to get relevant information in front of the right people and, furthermore, handle various aspects of a business’s relationship with its customers?

What can research businesses learn from the ways in which AI is being used currently by other organisations?

Email subject lines

Virgin Holidays is using AI technology by Phrasee, a UK startup, to automate headline writing for its marketing emails. According to reports, the machine-powered scribe outperforms humans by up to 10% in terms of open rates.

Those incremental improvements can be worth a significant sum to a multi-million-pound business. The technology also allows the holiday company to test more options and save time in the long-term.

Fraud detection

Online supermarket Ocado is using machine learning to detect incidences of fraud as people navigate its website and apps. Every time a customer adds trolley items, books a delivery, and goes through the checkout, they leave information behind. This information can be very useful.

Ocado Technology, the team developing software and systems for the online grocer, applies machine learning to find ways to predict when fraud might occur and to differentiate this from normal customer activity.

It does this to prevent customers being adversely affected by fraud and to prevent fraudulent activity spreading, but this isn’t the only way the online grocer uses AI in customer relations.

Machine learning is also used to power the way it recommends products and generates search results. For example, it claims to have designed systems to avoid suggesting meat to vegetarians or products containing gluten to celiacs.

Virtual customer service

Customers of the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest have been interacting with a virtual chatbot for almost a year and a half. It picks up queries when messenger conversations start and attempt to deal with the issues that come its way.

Powered by IBM’s Watson technology, the Luvo virtual agent interacts with customers to perform basic tasks. Anything complex is left to a human.

After a successful trial with RBS’s staff, Luvo went live in October 2016. It has the ability to answer ten questions and the capacity to learn to deal with more complex issues. It even recognises whether a customer is unhappy or frustrated, and can change its tone appropriately.

The technology was put into use to free up the time of the bank’s human advisers. While the chatbot deals with simple queries, the bank’s relationship with its customers is enhanced by having staff dedicate more time to helping customers with complex issues that require a level of empathy of which computers aren’t currently capable.

Complex uses

As we have indicated, in some areas, technology might simply prove to be more efficient than humans at performing key tasks. Other implementations could see AI-powered systems add value in ways humans previously didn’t or couldn’t. However, as our banking example shows, the effectiveness of customer relations could also be enhanced by the combined use of technology and humans.

Just in these few simple examples, we can see how the implementation of AI across the economy is likely to be complex and multifaceted – and this variety is likely to be reflected in how research firms use AI in their customer relations.

If you’d like to know how technology could enhance your research business please call, email, or sign up here for a demo of our industry-leading content publishing and management system.

Infographic: Our five-year journey toward fully-automated site updates

It all started with a four-hour meeting in Starbucks, and the result was a plan to move Publish Interactive towards fully-automated updates over five years…

As we’re four years through that journey, we thought it would be good to show you the progress we’ve made, the benefits brought, and what the next year is going to bring.

If you’d like to know how continuous deployment could help your business please call, email, or sign up here for a demo our industry-leading content publishing and management system.

These two uses perfectly show how Artificial Intelligence can shake up research

The focus and determination to make use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is red hot across all industries. While some race ahead, others like the research sector are watching these early adopters and learning valuable lessons that could help inform their own implementation plans.

Technology and, particularly, the retail sector have been quick to make use of benefits offered by different forms of AI.

Apple’s Siri is a ubiquitous form of natural language processing (NLP) that interprets voice commands and responds accordingly, while online retail often involves automated chatbots supplying customer support.

New business

A study from Boston Consulting Group examined the appetite for AI across businesses. It found that 75% of executives believe AI will enable their companies to move into new businesses.

The research also suggested that almost 85% believe AI will allow them to obtain or sustain a competitive advantage, while more than 60% said a strategy for AI is urgent for their organizations.

Desire is high, but the gap between appetite and execution remains significant. The Boston Consulting study found that just one in five companies has incorporated AI into some offering or process, while just one in twenty has extensively incorporated AI.

AI in research

Within the research community, the need to incorporate AI is understood but use or experimentation are not yet widespread.

A lack of widespread experimentation, however, doesn’t mean there’s no experimentation. In fact, there was a conference last year on this very subject (recordings of the sessions can be found here) and there are several organisations making waves in research with AI and a string of other interesting applications.

One application highlighted in a research paper by InSites Consulting looks at the use of predictive analytics to ensure that market research communities and consulting boards are not disproportionality influenced by strong characters who might skew research outcomes.

Looking further afield, Prague-based response:now is an organisation doing impressive things. It supplies automated market research that creates reports based on machine learning. It already works with Google, Mastercard, and McCann.

Fred Barber, Managing Director of response:now in North America, explained his business’s proposition to Martech Today – 75-80% of the current effort in market research, he said, is in writing the reports.

“It [writing] is costly and time-consuming,” he said. In comparison to traditional research, response:now can deliver in “five days, not five weeks and for 2K instead of 20 (on average).”

So, that’s a heavily increased speed at a much-reduced cost. In those terms, market research can become much more every day. It is something actionable and relied upon by managers and workers, rather than accessed mainly by executives who may or may not build it into strategy.

Next moves

Even in the two simple examples we’ve highlighted, it’s possible to see how AI can be a disruptive force in the research industry.

Our examples show how research production could be altered, but what we haven’t really touched on (and it’s a subject to which we’ll return to) is the effect AI is likely to have on the way research businesses interact with customers.

Before signing off, we just want to highlight a key finding from a recent 451 Research Study on Current and Future State of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. It says machine learning is set to be the most transformative technology existing over the next decade. It also says that we are approaching an inflection point at which companies that have not integrated machine learning into their offerings will fall behind those that have.

To remain competitive in the research sector, it looks like executives might have to get to grips with a lot of new ways of interacting with the customer…

If you’d like to know how technology could enhance your research business please call, email, or sign up here for a demo of our industry-leading content publishing and management system.

6 ways tech binges are encouraged – and 1 excellent reason why you’ll never binge with Publish Interactive

Poorly-designed technology can be bad for you, but even more concerning are the platforms designed to keep engagement high at all costs – often without the users’ best interests at heart.

Features aimed solely at retaining our engagement will be familiar to most people:

  • Newsfeeds that auto-refresh and scroll endlessly
  • Countdown clocks and auto cueing for video playback
  • Rewards handed out for continuous chats
  • Flashing dots that tell us a contact is preparing a reply
  • Read messages that tell you a conversation is progressing

Addictive tech

From just six bullet points, it’s easy to understand how platforms can encourage addiction and how individual users start to develop bingeing habits. So much so, that those who helped create these technologies are now speaking out against their effects.

Binge free

The platform developed by Publish Interactive isn’t one where a user is likely to binge. For a start, none of the addiction-forming features mentioned is found across the technology; but beyond that, the product is designed to allow users to quickly find information that answers their questions.

Given that our software is a business tool aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency of its users, the idea of retaining them simply for retention’s sake seems would be counter productive.

Publish Interactive produces smart technology designed not to disrupt your work life, but to enhance it at the point when you need to quickly access high-quality business information.

It doesn’t need you to be there, it’s there for when you need it.

If you’d like to know how this technology could enhance your work life please sign up here for a demo of our industry-leading content publishing and management system.