Marketing and other dirty words

I have been thinking a lot recently about how to move beyond the rhetoric of “open equals good” towards identifying where open approaches help us meet key business cases. A notable quote from the Power of Open book launch was that “open isn’t a business model, its a part of a business model”. I’m seeing this trend in open educational resources, open access repositories and open innovation. It’s how open source became more mainstream, and we need to be learning from that journey. If we want to see open approaches sustained, we need to get businesslike about how make the case, however contradictory that might sound.

Earlier this month I spoke at a UKOLN event on metrics and the social web, and the discussion there reinforced the potential of using the web more effectively to underpin our key business goals in further and higher education.

On 26th July I am presenting at the Institutional Web Managers Workshop 2011 and I will be developing this theme further, paying particular attention to the way that web managers can support open access, open educational resources and open social scholarship.

In reflecting on how open access and OER can contribute to the core business cases of universities, I think that activities particularly worthy of more attention include:

  • Profiling academic expertise
  • Supporting REF impact metrics
  • Enhanced research publications
  • Cross-linking open content to open course data
  • Social media listening tools
  • Web analytics and visualisation

My presentation on slideshare: Marketing and other dirty words

6 thoughts on “Marketing and other dirty words

  1. Steve Hitchcock

    Amber, A clarification. Open access via repositories differs in one respect from the other ‘open’ types you refer to: it has a prior outlet, that is, the peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings, etc. The corollary is that for authors depositing open access papers in a repository, there is no business model, it’s simply about access. There is a business model for open access publishers, and for repositories – for IRs it’s institutional – but not for authors. You are right to identify benefits of ‘open’ – we have to do more of that – but for open access authors, ‘business model’ may be two of your ‘dirty’ and unnecessary words.

  2. Nick Sheppard

    Hi Steve, Amber

    Surely there is an implicit “business case” for releasing peer-reviewed research outputs from behind their subscription barrier, both for the institution and the academic themselves? I think Gaz Johnson of Leicester illustrates the point in his recent post – “Which means for academics, if you’re not putting your work in the repository; well good luck holding onto your funding over the next 10 years as you’re for all intents and purposes utterly invisible.”

    I’m as idealistic as the next man (probably more so!) and my primary motivation working in repositories is simply to get research / teaching and learning material into the public domain but wouldn’t it be naive of me, and of the academics I am advocating to, to regard “business model” as ‘dirty’ and unnecessary words (especially given a certain white paper) as the ivory towers are corroded by the Universal Acid of capitalism?

  3. James Toon

    Hi Amber et al,

    I think you are right in thinking that open is part of a business model, and not a model in itself. ‘Open’ represents an enabling device that lets institutions move towards a variety of benefits such as ‘better academic profiles’ , ‘improved opportunities for public engagement’ or ‘more effective engagement with subject communities’. In these cases its relatively easy to associate metrics to the benefits so long as they are realistic and relevant etc.

    What I find interesting however is that it’s often unclear as to which objectives the open agenda is trying to meet within the business model of the institution. Equally, which value chain is the business model used by the institution trying to meet? Is it for the vertical benefit of the institution (for example to get a better overall REF return, and therefore increase research income) or is for the horizontal benefit of the subject (for example in improving opportunities for collaboration, or in providing overlay services to cover some disciplinary need.)

    I find the horizontal vs. vertical value chains really quite intriguing. Being ‘open’ in ones approach to research communications is highly important in both, but the objectives are quite different. I question whether or not the current repository infrastructure we have really provides for this. It’s neither one thing nor the other as far as I can tell, and this is probably why the current implementation du jour is in CRIS systems, because they have (in the main) very defined objectives for the REF, research management and other institutional returns.

    So it strikes me that if we have the vertical objective sewn up, then what are we doing about the horizontal objective? Is there actual demand in this direction? Personally I think there is, but from a research user’s (value) perspective, institutional repositories are too limiting at the moment.

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