#PorterMeets Alastair Nash: 'Barriers falling'

#PorterMeets Alastair Nash: 'Barriers falling'

Alastair Nash is among featured speakers who will bring especially astute messages to publishing from other, nearby sectors on Friday (14th November) in Europe's busiest publishing conference, The FutureBook , at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster. Bookings will close Tuesday the 11th, so hurry to secure your seat


We are fond of pointing out that publishing is among the last industries to experience the special challenges of digital disruption. But we don't always get around to adjacent industries that took it in the teeth before we did.

Sometimes, we pre-empt such efforts by telling ourselves that books are unlike anything else. No one understands publishing except publishers, nobody knows the trouble we've seen.

But when Alastair Nash speaks at the The FutureBook Conference (#FutureBook14) on Friday, 14th November, the "culture clash" he'll be talking about isn't between his sector and publishing but between an incumbent industry and start-ups.

You know very quickly that he has things to say to publishing when he starts by telling you, "A decade ago, [major telecom] operators controlled all of the proposition."

"It can be quite a culture clash," he tells me in a #PorterMeets live interview. "But in 2014 there is a huge amount of experience about how to make it work."

Nash has more than 10 years' experience in digital, telecoms and media. Starting his career at Peter Gabriel’s music download start-up, he later spent several years in consulting with Capgemini’s Telecoms & Media practice.

Most recently he led the Strategy & Communications team at Orange Digital, an agency owned by Orange.

And when it comes to major operators' experiences with start-ups, he says, important lessons have been learned: This may sound good to struggling publishing start-ups that have found it hard to create collborative partnerships with major houses. Some have complained that necessary information wasn't shared, others that the larger corporations didn't allocate adequate staffing to their side of the equation. Large companies, on the other hand, have complained that some start-ups' personnel don't know the business well enough to contribute meaningful innovation, and thus required too much time and developmental resources while being brought up to speed. Nash, however, is upbeat on what he's seen working and holds out hope to publishing's leaders in the start-up space: And that gets us back to my favourite of Nash's tweets: And how is it now? we ask. Did digital mean a loss of control for them, as for us? Affirmative. And might there have been a bit of pushback against this? I ask innocently. It's interesting that Nash is talking of a fear of revenue "cannibalisation," just as serial entrepreneur George Berkowski -- a keynote speaker at The FutureBook -- talks of this with The Bookseller's Tom Tivnan. And Nash will bring a keen awareness of these comparative tensions to his comments at The FutureBook on the 14th: Nash sees relentless trial and error as the best hope, for both sectors: His view of Amazon as "our" dominant tech-giant facing publishing today, is also provocatively tempered by his telecoms stance. And it is, finally, the consumers, the end users, who become the key drivers, Nash says, a customer-side energy that has risen to meet the digitally disrupted world of companies in which he works, too. Talking of customers in digital times, he says: Quick reactions, frequent innovation, a restless, watchful perspective on the lay of the land, all while cultivating a rich relationship with consumers and those "nimble start-ups" he likes -- these are elements of successful transition in digital reality, Nash says. And the good news: Nash won't be at The FutureBook Conference to berate publishing but encourage it to do more of what it's doing:
Don't wait to book. Time is running out to be with us at Friday's (14th November)  The FutureBook Conference at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster. Bookings will close Tuesday the 11th, so hurry to secure your seat