What we have learned from solving digital publishing challenges since 1987

Timehouse Oy was set up in 1987, at a time when digital publishing was in its infancy. Over the years, we have worked with numerous publishers in Finland, helping them overcome publishing challenges. Whether it’s managing publishing materials, processes, or platforms, we have been in the digital publishing trenches with our clients, helping them with digitalisation, expansion, and commercial strategy.

Our mission is to harness information technology in order to solve real-world challenges for our clients, offering deeply customised software solutions that are co-created with our clients. It’s all about using tech to solve business challenges, not running after the latest fad.

For example, how do you manage when you must publish a truly vast amount of material that is constantly changing, such as the legal code for an entire country? Working with Alma on the Suomen Laki web service that collates all Finnish law into one place was a chance for us to scale our publishing capabilities. For Suomen Laki, we created an innovative semi-automated editorial pipeline where editors are presented with updates and annotations to the legal code that they can then edit or approve. We used automation and tech to support the editorial work, not work against it.

Out of this hard-won experience gained over the years, we have created digital publishing product modules (Time 3.0 products, e.g. TimeBase, TimeSearch etc): customisable parts you can integrate into your own publishing workflow. Our latest innovation is a drag-and-drop e-publishing product known as TimeStory. By breaking things down into separate parts and creating tech for each step of the journey, from database management to the final online reading experience, we are really specific about the pain points we are solving.

As our product development is bolstered by an intimate understanding of what the publishing industry needs, we are not afraid to innovate. Recently, we worked with the publishers at Duodecim, using Microsoft’s WOPI protocol to create a way for them to manage their folders in the browser. We customised the protocol so that it worked with their internal systems, creating something completely new and custom.

Analysing all the individual publishing cases we have been involved in would fill 100s of columns like these, but here are some of the core insights from over the years that have helped us serve our clients:

  1. Technology cannot be used as solution when process is lacking: the power of processes must guide the technology, not the other way around.
  2. It is best to work with AI and automation in a measured way: not everything can (or should) be automated, and you may want to adopt a more hybrid approach.
  3. For people seeking to ‘go more digital’ with their publishing, avoid a siloed approach and integrate the digital arm with the rest of your publishing ecosystem.
  4. Moving into the digital space from more traditional publishing won’t guarantee instant success: you need to have a solid business model too.
  5. Solve problems in conjunction with the pipeline: is the problem in material management, the editorial workflow, the publishing process, or in all three?
  6. Customisation can help you unlock a truly integrated publishing powerhouse. Integrations are essential to great tech solutions, so don’t be afraid to explore integrating.
  7. Think about the end user experience: what do your readers really want? Don’t offer ‘cool’ features such as interactivity ‘just because’, really think about what they’re going to be needing those features for.

When considering digital publishing for your business, ensure you are not just running after trends, but building something in sync with your business model. Get in touch with us to find out more about solving publising challenges with tech.

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