Katie Bascuas is an associate editor at Associations Now in Washington, DC.
Ready to take your hardcopy content into the digital age? Mark Gross, CEO of Digital Conversion Laboratory, shares some tips on the document-conversion process.
Associations Now: Why should associations consider document conversion?
Gross: One reason is that associations are sitting on a gold mine. Many of them have been in business for many, many years, and they are repositories of information for their subject area.
A lot of times that information doesn't get assimilated well, and, as a result, many of the things that they are very proud of and have spent so much effort collecting are sort of dead. It's just sitting in their archives and in their files.
It's very valuable to digitize those collections so associations can disseminate the information, and they can make money out of that. It can lead to more sales, and it might encourage people to become members because the value of membership increases.
What should associations consider when creating a digital conversion strategy?
There are two pieces. One is they need to think broadly about what the value of their material is and not underestimate it, which tends to happen when you're familiar with your material.
The other is to think clearly about what's involved in converting content and get some help. When you are looking at your archives and what you're going to be doing with that information, it can seem like an overwhelming task, so it tends to get pushed off. Once it all gets organized and laid out in a project plan, it's not quite as overwhelming an undertaking, and the effort and cost of conversion are probably less than most people think.
What should associations not do when starting the conversion process?
You can't overanalyze things because then you can spend years going through everything. Associations should also be mindful of the fact that there are techniques to automate the process.
[This article was originally published in the Associations Now print edition, titled "Content Conversion."]