Too often in publishing we find ourselves behind the technology curve. Whilst many businesses are figuring out how to harness the power of Artificial Intelligence, Drones and the Internet of Things, many of us in publishing are just trying to make sense of the matrix of spreadsheets and creaking databases we have come to rely on to carry out our daily tasks. Systems that take the grind out of our working lives and liberate the energetic, creative and entrepreneurial spirit lying dormant within feel like a pipe-dream – and certainly not something that anyone in publishing is likely to receive budget approval for!

The rights department and technology
However, this kind of liberation might be closer than you think. Take the rights department as an example. The rights department is fundamental to the running of any publisher, however it is often located either in the attic or the basement of the building. We’ve seen examples of rights departments that are marginalised both physically and organisationally, where they are seen only as a team that brings in ‘additional revenue’ and not a vital part of the publishing process. Even when they are given more prominence and recognition within an organisation, rights teams can be small, and the administrative elements of the role can be all-consuming, leaving little time for highly skilled rights professionals to get out there and grow their businesses.

Rights teams are often left out of large scale enterprise solutions that publishers deploy, or have some basic functionality tacked on at the end (when any budget for configuration or customisation has been spent). If they are lucky someone at some point in time will have taken pity and put in place some kind of Access or Filemaker database to help them manage – the alternative is spreadsheets, and (shockingly) the trusty card index file! Some really lucky rights professionals will have managed to make a case for investing in one of the few standalone rights systems on the market. These at least are designed with rights people in mind but are starting to show their age. What did your mobile phone look like in the early 2000s? When the last dedicated rights systems were built, we were pre-iphone, pre-Facebook and WiFi had only just become a ‘thing’.

Technology has advanced hugely in the last 20 years and we should be demanding more from it. We need flexible and secure systems that enable us to work anytime, from anywhere. We need integrated workflows and we need systems that help us to analyse, understand and grow our businesses easily.

Developing a product to help rights teams
As rights professionals ourselves, we have witnessed the frustration experienced by rights people every day, having to work around systems to try and juggle a complex workload, re-keying data in 5 different places and seeing their vision for growth thwarted because they simply don’t have enough time in a day to do it all.

We felt sure there must be a better way. So, we spoke to our friends at Ribbonfish, the publishing technology experts and together we have created RightsZone.

RightsZone is built on one of the most popular cloud platforms in the world, Salesforce. It has been designed by rights people with the needs of rights people central to every development decision we make. It is a comprehensive rights database alongside a suite of workflow tools, that streamline processes and significantly reduce time spent on admin tasks.
We have developed features that ease a lot of the pain points typically experienced by rights teams, such as contract generation, book fair planning and follow-up, statement tracking and payment management; as well as features that support growth and development including dashboards, reporting, communication and collaboration tools. Overall we feel that in RightsZone we have created the rights system that hard-working rights professionals deserve: a modern, intuitive and flexible system that will them to innovate and grow their licensing businesses.

We have invested in creating and developing RightsZone because we believe it will make a significant difference to people working in rights and enable them to unleash the potential of their business. We plan to continue that work alongside our users, building a community of rights professionals, to develop best practice and innovate new ways of rights licensing fit for a 21st century publishing industry. It’s going to be an exciting journey and we can’t wait to share it.

Systems do not have to be about spending time filling in boxes. The only point in putting data in is if you can make that data work for you – repurposing it in different ways to speed up processes and help you understand your business better. If you are working in publishing in any field and struggling with out of date systems that hamper the potential of your business, then demand better. Get out there and see what technology you can harness to make a difference. If you can demonstrate the growth potential that can be achieved by harnessing new cloud-based tech, the investment decision should be a no brainer.

Clare Hodder and Ruth Tellis, RightsZone
RightsZone and Ribbonfish will be exhibiting at London Book Fair (on the IPG stand 6E70). If you’d like to know more about how technology could work harder for you, come and visit us there.

LIBF RightsZone Special Offer – whilst RightsZone can’t remove the stress of book fairs entirely, we can make it a little easier. Book a demo before or during LIBF and you will receive the services of your very own RightsZone Runner. (see for more info).