The relatively low cost of developing and deploying occupation-specific digital collections, and related communities and services, has created a digital gold rush. Content-rich enterprises such universities, professional societies, and publishers of reference works, manuals, and textbooks are moving to convert content to new platforms even as technology companies are rushing to generate and secure content that will draw users to their platforms and approaches.
The heart of occupational and professional education, and related information services, is that they provide carefully curated content and engage a dense community of users (students, members, users/readers) around occupation-specific knowledge. Both traditional professional and occupational enterprises and new entrants see the mission and economic values of:
- increasing the number of users, especially international users;
- increasing the value delivered to users and thereby increasing the stickiness of their services;
- creating new revenue streams both through the delivery of new services and by taking market share from competitor enterprises, many of which did not exist or directly compete in traditional markets for professional and occupational attention and dollars.
The opportunity for companies, educational enterprises, and professional societies is to use this new form of knowledge organization to aggressively develop markets with direct revenue and margin consequences and to develop content-based brand and visibility. While every enterprise’s entry point will be different there are three main challenges in execution of an effective global strategy:
- Establishing dynamic and growing occupation-specific communities in target occupations or professions;
- Developing or acquiring and capturing occupation-specific knowledge management structures and digital collections; and
- Establishing relationships with local, often face-to-face, providers of occupation-specific decision support and education in target markets.
The stakes in this gold rush are high. Enterprises that establish effective global communities and collections can become a welcomed operational partner for national governments as well as for companies operating around the world. The successful global community and collection can be the vehicle that brings high quality, interactive digital resources and materials to support regional educational institutions and individual learners in workforce-relevant tertiary education, as well as providing support for professionals in the field.