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Standards, Reference Materials, Learning Coursework, and more…

Does your company or organization create high value knowledge products? Knowledge products are information resources that have enough inherent value that they can be treated as revenue-generating products. Examples include Industry Standards, Accounting Audit Guidelines, Reference Materials, Learning Materials and Courses, etc. Companies that produce this kind of information generally work as publishers selling printed books, PDFs, and/or eBooks. Commonly, these are one-time sales, limiting your ability to fully monetize these assets.

Recurring Revenue is a Natural Model for High Value Knowledge Products

One of the problems with one-time product sales is that information, like the knowledge products listed above, has a shelf life. Standards change, reference material requires constant updating, learning materials change as their subjects evolve. But content delivered in print formats cannot easily be updated and distributed. The typical answer to this is to sell editions or versions on a timeline basis. This is fine for major updates, but increasingly there is demand for knowledge products that are always up-to-date when they are referenced by users. This requires a digital distribution medium that can constantly connect, in both directions, with systems designed to deliver real time content. To make that work, you have to rethink the way your knowledge products are developed, their format, the ways you can move them around as data components via Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), and the ways the end-user can access them.

Subscriptions and Other Recurring Revenue Products Are More Profitable

Selling a fixed product like a print book means limiting the potential total revenue you can realize over the life of a customer. A configurable, ongoing relationship like a subscription or a license can typically support a higher price point, with much lower production and distribution costs. You also have the ability to price by user, rather than providing a fixed price resource that can be used by any number of users.

Recurring Revenue Model Examples: Subscriptions and Licensing

Let’s look at how this model can work from a recurring revenue perspective. For a moment, assume that you have restructured your information so that it can be digitally delivered with updates taking place as you make them (more on that in a moment). You now have the ability to sell subscriptions to that content, subscriptions that represent recurring revenue streams rather than one time purchases. You gain a more predictable and consistent revenue stream and your customers gain access, in real time, to more accurate, up-to-date content.

The key to this transformation is the use of a centralized content creation, review and distribution platform like easyDITA. Once your information exists in this structured environment, a front-end can be built that serves as an ecommerce platform for your information products.

The Licensing model licenses your now ‘live’ content feed to business information systems and delivers the information as searchable, standardized XML components, via APIs.

Revenue Model Benefits: Customer Content Producer
  • Ready online access to a configurable set of products
  • Content is always current, revisions are ongoing
  • Predictable recurring revenue with annual subscriptions
  • Eliminates or reduces production, distribution, and royalty costs associated with print publishing.
  • eCommerce handles transaction
  • Push/Pull API access to content as interoperable components in standards-compliant XML
  • Eliminates costly manual digitization of print content
  • Enhanced product value for information management systems vendors
  • Integration with existing workflows
  • Up to date
  • Access can be conditionalized to user permissions, etc.
  • Ability to price by volume, ability to offer constant updates, more accuracy, no manual migrations to new systems (done via APIs)
  • Eliminates or reduces production, distribution, and royalty costs with print publishers

Examples: SASB and the AJCC

1) Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) Navigator

We have customers who have successfully implemented both subscription and licensing models based on moving their content to our structured content platform. SASB, an accounting standards developing organization (SDO) built their Navigator web site on the easyDITA platform, offering their buyers a configurable access, via annual subscription, to their hundreds of accounting standards and industry information filings.

SASB: Searchability is Key

For SASB, searching through huge amounts of information is now relatively simple because of the high velocity filtered search capability driving the Navigator web site. Once the desired information is found, the user gains instant access to the information, wherever they are, because of their paid subscription access. No need for a new transaction every time a new piece of information is needed.

2) The American Joint Committee on Cancer (AJCC)

The AJCC moved its production of the Cancer Staging Manual, a bound reference text found in thousands of medical facilities, away from Word-based authoring and review, and into our centralized platform. The structure imposed by easyDITA and our configurable APIs mean that the critical information in the manual can now be delivered to medical professionals via the health information management systems in their clinics and research labs. No more finding the book, looking up information and manually adding it to a file in the system. Not only is this access much more streamlined, it is also a more accurate reference source because of the ability to constantly flow updates and new information into all the systems connected to the AJCC easyDITA content platform. The AJCC has a licensing model to provide this information to health information management systems vendors. Read the full AJCC Case Study.

Access to the Current State of the Knowledge Gets More Critical

In both of these examples, having current, up-to-date information is critical. The current state of knowledge around cancer, for example, is constantly changing and access to newer research can mean saving lives. In SASB’s case, their standards and filings help investors determine whether companies they are investing in comply with environmental and sustainability guidelines. This helps with risk analysis and responsible investing decisions.

ROI Based On Improved Processes and Stable Recurring Revenue

For both organizations, return on investment is driven by a transformed content management process based on sophisticated technology. At every step of the way, from creation to the ultimate user-experience, money and time are saved. In addition, subscriptions and licensing are recurring revenue sources that can be grown over time.

The decision to explore recurring revenue options is made possible by the content platform you move your information to. Implementing the easyDITA CCMS (Component Content Management System) opens up many ways to monetize and distribute knowledge products. It is much easier, for example, to publish to multiple languages, repurpose content for the needs of varied audiences, package products for specific customer requirements, and it offers a means to automate the sales process via ecommerce solutions. In making a case for a move to structured content, understanding this potential can radically change the ROI factor in that decision-making process.

Martin Edic

Martin is a writer and marketer who specializes in creating content for delivery online via the web and mobile. Former Jorsek Employee.
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