Leading economic research firm Oxford Economics chose to partner with Content Catalyst and adopt Publish Interactive – its leading content delivery and subscriber management platform – to power the My Oxford portal. A global client base of cross-industry corporate entities now use the Publish Interactive-powered My Oxford portal to access subscription content and consulting deliverables.
Oxford Economics is the world’s foremost independent economic advisory firm. Starting as a commercial venture with Oxford University’s business college back in 1981, the firm soon spread to the four corners of the globe. Now covering over 200 countries, over 100 industrial sectors and 8,000 cities and regions, their international team of analysts deliver insights that enable businesses to make intelligent and responsible decisions faster.
Realigning organisational focus
To facilitate its wide-ranging coverage of international economic markets and ambitious growth targets, Oxford Economics needed a dependable, scalable content delivery solution to power the My Oxford insights portal.
Since the launch of the updated My Oxford portal, which, Ben Nicaudie, Chief Information Officer at Oxford Economics, described as the “smoothest deployment at this scale they [Oxford Economics] had seen”, the organisation has realigned focus back to its core principles: delivering exceptional economic insights and an innovative user experience for their over 2,500-strong worldwide client base, which includes household names like IBM, Visa, and Airbnb.
The solid foundation provided by the Publish Interactive platform enables efficient publishing workflow processes and reduces the previously heavy burden of website maintenance and general IT support on Oxford Economics’ development team. The firm now has a reliable, scalable technical infrastructure and more time to focus on innovative product development initiatives.
The My Oxford homepage – powered by Publish Interactive
“No longer focused on keeping the lights on”
Before adopting Publish Interactive, Oxford Economics had a high-maintenance content delivery system. Ben oversaw the launch of the new platform and explains how his team no longer require “dedicated support and admin staff to maintain the platform.” This new-found freedom from the shackles of repetitive maintenance work allowed his team to “spend a lot more time improving things as we’re not focused on keeping the lights on or other operational matters.”
For instance, updating content and their vast array of verticals was time-intensive. Oxford Economics provide analysis on a far more specified basis than their competitors and the new platform now helps them “achieve this coverage from a technical perspective.” Newly created verticals, including a ‘Global Climate Scenarios’ category, are configured quickly and easily, enabling Oxford Economics to scale its content offering.
In addition to the benefits of a more focused development team, Publish Interactive facilitates better connectivity across the business. With two key arms to their business: subscription content and consulting projects, the company previously experienced a degree of disconnect. “One of the success stories from the partnership has been our ability to integrate both sides of the business into one platform through the API connectivity,” says Ben.
A deep integration with Salesforce strengthened interconnectivity further. Linking the commercial operations of the organisation more closely with the research arm enabled all users, licenses, and purchases to be managed via the CRM.
Transformative HTML Content
Aside from improved organisational processes, “one of the biggest selling points was the ability to move to HTML”, asserts Ben. Oxford Economics’ emphasis on HTML content output hosted through Publish Interactive’s Interactive Docs feature, sets them apart from other market analysis firms publishing content in PowerPoint or static PDF format.
Leveraging an intelligent piece of custom development, Ben’s team developed a simpler process for authoring HTML documents and adding metadata direct from Word. This process has been well received by analysts and “switching to HTML has given a fresh, modernised look for all of our content – in fact, the ability to fully automate things like compendium reports has given us a new lease of life,” comments Ben.
This new lease of life benefits both analysts and Oxford Economics’ subscribers.
For analysts, automation has “saved a lot of time in the content production phase and allowed analyst teams to get more content out than before.” Ben has noticed the most significant benefits of automation with Oxford Economics’ data-driven ‘Cities’ content. The previous system converted analysts’ Excel worksheets into PDF format with no scope to deliver content as HTML or to include interactive data. Now, only one template is needed – leading to “virtually zero” tickets for IT support.
For subscribers, the HTML reading experience is far more engaging: “clients can now interact with the data and content to a much higher degree,” explains Ben. Given the complexity of Oxford Economics’ datasets and the prominence of data forecasts in their content, interactivity is a must. End-users can also compile pertinent sections of the content and export custom reports to the Microsoft Office suite.
“Switching to HTML has given a fresh, modernised look for all of our content – in fact, the ability to fully automate things like compendium reports has given us a new lease of life.”
Chief Information Officer
End-users are reaping the rewards
It’s not only increased interactivity that has improved the end-user reading experience, but also two key in-platform content engagement tools: search and translation.
Ben discusses a common headache for market analysis providers associated with building content delivery systems in-house: subscribers cannot always find the information they need in ways they expect. He admits that “it seems silly because we all just expect search to work but it is a very complex, technical area and getting it right is really difficult”. The firm previously worked with third-party organisations to hone and optimise their search system but to no avail; search returns were often “too smart” and came back with unintuitive results. Not the outcome an organisation with a content catalogue of over 50,000 technical, complex research products was hoping for.
“We used to get complaints from clients and from people internally that search was not functioning properly”, explains Ben, “but that’s completely gone away now.”
Given Oxford Economics’ global audience and workforce, in-platform translation tools have transformed engagement with content. “For the first time, clients can see a report in their chosen language – that was a big step forward,” comments Ben, who says further enhancements will follow, including the generation of email notifications in a client’s chosen language.
An innovation facilitator
Since the implementation of Publish Interactive, instead of dealing with support tickets, site maintenance issues, and complex publishing workflow processes the organisation is focused on what it does best: creating high-quality economic research and delivering a boundary-pushing reading experience for its international clientele.
Ben has ambitious plans for the My Oxford portal. Noticing the growing proliferation of AI-based technologies, he discusses his plans to train AI chatbots to improve accessibility of content using advanced natural language models. These intelligent bots will help answer client queries about content, further reducing the workload on account managers and analysts who no longer have to spend their time fielding simple subscriber questions. The shift from PDF to HTML-published content has facilitated this development. Content is now formulaically structured in the production phase, meaning AI can pinpoint recurring elements in each document and answer questions about specific sections of the document. This will “give us a huge advantage going forward”, explains Ben.
Leveraging the dependable infrastructure the Publish Interactive platform provides, Oxford Economics now has a strong environment in which to scale. No longer shackled by inefficient workflow processes, high-maintenance tech, and inflexible content formats, their international team of expert economists, developers, and commercial personnel can continue to forge the organisation’s innovative path.
“Having all the content in one place gives us the platform to make changes and we’ll be on that journey together with Content Catalyst as a managed service provider,” summarised Ben.
- Analyst Workflow
- Digital Transformation
- End-user workflow