Crossing Borders: The synergies between publishers and the global workforce


Reaching and engaging with a global audience is a common goal among publishers and employers. In the publishing industry, for example, a hot topic discussed at the Frankfurt Book Fair was how to expand the reach of content to the global marketplace. In the age of digital, this expansion is increasingly attainable, as long as publishers are willing to adapt. And with employers especially those who employ a global workforce the need for streamlined, cross-cultural collaboration and continuous opportunities for professional learning and development are crucial to overall business success.

You may be wondering why I’m tying the publishing industry and the global workforce together. The reasoning is simple. Employees across the globe, no matter their industry, need quality, customized content for continuous learning. What’s more, they need content specific to their geographies and cultural customs. With the right content, delivered in the preferred language and through the preferred medium (book, article, journal, video, combination of multiple formats), every employee, no matter their location, will be set up for professional success.

Since 80 percent of all corporate learning takes place through on-the-job interactions with peers, experts, and managers, it is also important that collaborative tools connect employees across borders both with each other and with the content everyone is consuming. In order to manage the global learning and development process, and collaboration among employees within the same company, it is important to centralize the process by combining multi-language content (delivered in multiple formats), employee network and collaborative tools together in one system.

Let’s explore the benefits of centralizing content, network and tools into one system, from the perspective of both global publishers and global employers.

For publishers:

  • Publishing content on a centralized platform broadens reach to a global marketplace, especially when the platform targets the global workforce. By hosting content in a central location, publishers make it easy for global learners to search and access books, videos, articles, and journals focusing on business matters – all within their company’s area of interest.
  • Content feedback can be reviewed and acted upon in real-time. By pairing publishers’ content with a professional network and collaborative tools, publishers can see who from across the globe is interacting with their content via shares, comments and interactions. Through these interactions, publishers receive valuable feedback, which they can use to optimize their content. For example, publishers could use the feedback to shape future editions of titles or use the insights to build short learning paths, which could include a video or other content that would provide targeted audiences with more specific information on popular topics.
  • Valuable insights are received through backend analytics. Publishers receive reports that outline engagement by category and country; time spent reading (in minutes) each book or chapter; number of accesses to specific content; number of shares in a project; types of activity performed in the content (comments, highlights, etc.); and how much revenue each work has earned. These insights provide valuable feedback to publishers in terms of what content resonates most by location and industry. Publishers can use these insights to plan future releases based on what performs best.

For global employers:

  • Employers and their employees have access to a vast array of content from many publishers: With a global workforce, the same content consumed by employees in the U.S. likely won’t resonate with employees in the UK. By curating content from hundreds of publishers around the world and building a global business library in a centralized platform, all employees can login and access content that best suits their markets, geographies and customs. Let’s say an employee in Spain and an employee in the US (same company) are both assigned a market research project related to their prospective economies. Each employee can use the same platform with the same type of expert business content, only the content will be customized based on language, geography and market.
  • Employees see what content their colleagues are referencing: Within the central system, global HR or L&D managers create groups and invite all employees to the group. Let’s go back to the Spain and U.S. employees mentioned above. Throughout the duration of the economic research project, each employee can see the types of content the other is referencing in order to complete the task. Though there may be language barriers at times, viewing colleagues’ activity allows employees to remain connected. And if language isn’t a barrier, employees can exchange useful content paired with their own feedback using collaborative tools.
  • Managers get a feel for who is referencing what resource from various regions, based on group interactions: For managers, centralizing content, network and collaborative tools is an effective way to manage learning and development for all employees across the globe. Managers can recommend content to employees based on their specific regions, as well as view conversations taking place across the company on a global scale. And by understanding the best content based on location, managers are equipped to brief company executives on trending topics between markets.

The idea of a complete, diverse and adaptive library, paired with network and tools enhances the ability for publishers to reach and engage with a global audience, receive feedback from that audience and respond to feedback to maximize content reach and engagement. At the same time, the global workforce benefits by building a global culture through collaboration, as well as gaining global insights into markets, how employees learn and what resources are most beneficial based on location.

Christian Smythe is the head of content and partner strategy at BlueBottleBiz, a collaborative learning platform for business professionals. He is a pioneer in the eBook business and has worked with digital books and content since 2002.