Each year, Hum and Silverchair join forces to share predictions from thought leaders across the scholarly publishing realm and explore insightful projections about how publishers will respond to rapidly changing technology. 

In the 2023 Tech Trends report that dropped at the start of the year, Dustin, Hum’s President, opened the report with the top 5 themes he expected to see roll out through the year. (Want to see the full report for yourself? You can still download a copy here!) 

Now, one year later, we’re revisiting those projections and assessing what played out as expected over the past 12 months. We’ll also give you a sneak peek at the upcoming 2024 Publishing Tech Trends report, coming in January.

Revisiting the 2023 Tech Trend Predictions

Open Access Uptake Accelerates

Our first 2023 prediction centered on the proliferation of open access, with the OSTP Nelson memo and various global policies driving increased publisher prioritization. 

This played out extensively, with most major publishers rolling out new transitional agreements, open infrastructure, and multimedia OA options. “Exposure” and “compliance” were buzzwords as publishers adapted to meet the requirements of the memo, and new platforms and aggregators emerged in response to these challenges. 

With the impending end of funder support for Transformative Agreements and the new plan S proposal, there continue to be big conversations around how to pay for scholarly publishing. This piece from Clarke & Esposito does a great job breaking down how society publishers, in particular, have been challenged by Transformative Agreements. 

Variety Explodes Across Scholarly Content

We saw an explosion of growth in grey lit and non-traditional content types, like posters and conference talks getting a first-class publishing experience.

Dustin also predicted that this diversity of content types would drive publishers to experiment with monetization and new business models, as well as efforts to fight information overload. Sure enough, 2023 saw publishers experimenting further with multimedia, social sharing features, and interim research outputs.  

We’re also beginning to see the impact AI can have in facilitating variety across scholarly content. Different people want different things from the same central piece of content, and research papers aren’t the most user-friendly of artifacts. Leading publishers are experimenting with AI to deliver key advancements in a succinct way or to generate lay summaries that serve different audiences. Expect to see more of this in 2024!

Audience-Focused Business Models Emerging

As predicted, with the shift to OA, publishers made strides this year in catering to specific user groups like students, clinicians, policy makers and more. Submission systems got author-experience upgrades while reader recommendation engines improved. 

But work remains in truly delighting users in an increasingly competitive landscape, and reader expectations continue to climb as traditional media companies and retailers raise the bar for digital experiences. 

Data and Data Products Gain Traction

2023 saw scholarly publishers get serious about building data foundations. Publishers accelerated investments to centralize first-party data and proactively analyze data architecture gaps. Leaders developed strategies to better utilize reader and content data for insights, personalized alerts and recommendations. 

Industry standards emerged around instrumental taxonomies and metadata schemas tailored to optimize AI readiness. These upgrades also aimed to enhance reporting, fuel personalization and pave efficient pathways to an increasingly intelligent, automated future. 

AI Poised to Transform Workflows

It didn’t take a crystal ball to predict this one. AI has been a buzzword across many industries this year; it was even selected as the Collins Dictionary 2023 word of the year

Conversations about bias, integrity, and accountability have taken center stage as publishers make sense of the enormous opportunities and potential threats that AI poses. Hum and Silverchair were far from the only technology partners to introduce new AI capabilities. (Unsubtle plug: Check out Alchemist - the AI engine that powers Hum!)

As the capabilities of AI continue to rapidly advance, it’s the publishers who are investing, experimenting, and upskilling now that will be better equipped to take advantage of the opportunities AI provides. 

Spoiler Alert: AI Takes Center Stage for 2024

The upcoming tech trend report will take a deeper dive on how AI stands to impact various areas within publishing, and how publishers are approaching integration of AI into their systems. 

We see 2024 as the year AI adoption accelerates for key publisher use cases, like:

  • Automated metadata classification
  • Language quality checks for non-native submissions
  • Reader recommendation and personalization engines
  • Automated reporting and forecasting for editors
  • Research gap analyses
  • Reviewer profile recommendations

Our 2024 report will dig into a few insightful industry viewpoints on AI in the coming year and beyond. Which innovations will publishers adopt first? Where is time and experimentation most focused? How can publishers collaborate? What emerging innovations might one day automate fact checking or supplementary analysis?

We’ll explore these ideas and more in our forthcoming 2024 tech trend report. Learn from leading consultants, technology partners, and publishing pros when the full analysis drops in January!