A recap of Emerald Publishing's experiences with technology partnerships!
Curious to know why many publishers go to third party providers instead of keeping things in-house?
We sure were! So, last week we invited Shelley Allen from UK-based scholarly publisher Emerald Publishing to join us for our second webinar to learn more about her experiences with external technology partnerships. Joining in for the session were also Tim Lloyd from LibLynx and David Leeming from 67Bricks – two of Emerald Publishing's technology partners.
With Publisher Relations and Business Development Manager from ChronosHub, Romy Beard, in front as moderator, the session evolved into an inspiring dialogue about the interplay and dynamics between publishers and third party technology providers. The webinar covered aspects such as why off-the-shelf solutions aren’t always ideal, what makes a good partnership, and important learnings looking back. Read on for a recap of some of the key points brought forward by our speakers.
The session was kicked-off with the essential question: Why search for third parties instead of going in-house?
For Shelley Allen, it’s all about capacity and knowledge. Emerald Publishing is driven by the vision of being able to foster the needs of many-sided requests and providing good, unique customer experiences. And with things changing quickly nowadays, an outside partner can be a good way to help get things going while ensuring that the internal teams aren’t disrupted in their day-to-day business. Apart from bringing their specialized expertise to the table, third parties are often engaged with a much broader network of people beyond the publisher’s immediate sphere and can help drive diversity, insights, and knowledge exchange.
Tim Lloyd agreed. We live in a world of limited resources, he added – and focus must always be on the core publisher activities. We must focus on solutions, not products and that you build the solution together with the customer.
Off-the-shelf solutions might be relevant for when we talk about, for instance, HR systems, Shelley also pointed out. But the beauty of a partnership is that it allows the needed flexibility and dialogue that gives the customer a chance to be more involved. Choosing an off-the-shelf solution makes it difficult to deliver on your strategy because there's no dialogue, and you have no control and influence of what is being created. With a partnership, you're able to build and co-create the solution, she explained.
We're the critical friend, David Leeming also pointed out. We're moving away from the requirement of "this is what I want you to build" to a "let us work together". The essence of partnership.
As such, it was a common notion between our guest speakers that searching for third parties has become a new 'trend' today. It's the result of a complex ecosystem, and David Leeming believes that it's motivated by the acceleration of the need to deliver things quicker and getting the user experience right. We're working online and in different ways, and it's harder to do things on your own. You may know a lot, but strong partners can help you deliver quicker and strengthen your agility to respond quicker.
Tim Lloyd supported this. It's important to have people around you who know different things and have different types of expertise – who can cover everything, he said.
Communication, trust, resilience. All speakers agreed that partnership is a two-way task that requires efforts from the very beginning. Things may go wrong along the way, but with the right communication and trust, you can be more supportive to the solution. Without it, it can all become stressful and fragmented.
"I feel like organizations could do more "dating"", Tim Lloyd stated. Point being here that a partnership is about engaging with people and personalities and getting to know the other part. Much like a date. When initiating a partnership, you're also more likely to quickly get a sense of what someone is like by simply having a conversation and asking questions. "You do get a vibe", Shelley agreed. "Is everyone civil? Are we able to have those constructive disagreements and ideas?"
In that regard, Shelley Allen also made an interesting point about partnering with smaller companies. In her experience, smaller companies tend to be more collaborative and less one-sided, acknowledging that it's never "one size fits all." Partnerships can bring in that form of diversity of opinions, thus building stronger, more tailor-fitted solutions.
Our speakers agreed that a partnership takes time. It's about the successes of trust, but it's a challenge to get to that mindset, David Leeming claimed. You have to take the time to get to know each other and try things out. That's what is going to deliver the bright solution.
Likewise, in Shelley Allen's perspective, building a partnership is especially about putting in real effort from the very beginning. You must have patience, push each other when you hit roadblocks, and be clear about the objectives from the start. As said, a partnership can help you deliver on your strategy – you may not necessarily own that strategy, but you’re in partnership where the solution is co-created. Therefore, it’s important to dare to try out things early to gain a footing, communicate consistently to develop trust between each other, but surely, also take the time to be learn the complexities that might be in play from the beginning.
Watch the full webinar right here 👇