Taming the Data Tiger

March 2003
by James Lichtenberg

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There’s an old Washington, DC joke: “It’s not who you know, it’s whom you know.” Increasingly, however, whether in Congress or in a book publishing company, it’s not whom you know, but what you know, how you know it, and especially how quickly and easily you can get to the information.
As a result, the most important decisions publishing executives are now making–both financially and in terms of impact on the business itself–are decisions about their core systems: hardware, networking, and software. And the goal is integration–systems that work together, that allow data (whether about editorial content, production information, or customer identities) to move easily among different applications and locations.
Admittedly, this is not comfortable for people in publishing, given a unique culture based on five centuries of slowly accreted processes. Discomfort notwithstanding, book publishing finds itself moving toward ever-more-complex (and expensive!) computer-based, software-dependent, web-enabled ways of organizing and accessing information essential to daily business activities.   Sales and marketing data, returns, renewals, circulation, promotion–the very stuff of publishing life–are no longer being assembled as they once were, manually, as thick paper reports that arrive on your desk every week or every few weeks or months. Rather, with a couple of mouse clicks, you…IBPA Members – Click here to view the full article (login required).

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