Intelligence managed to keep rolling for more than a decade while other IT-related publications came and left, but finally closed late last year, joining a host of publications in the publications graveyard. Intelligence Publishing has been swallowed up by Panorama, which has retained some of its publications while axing others.
Intelligence Publishing’s story is not an uncommon one. Reflecting back to the mid-1990s, Systems Publishers was the IT publishing powerhouse of the time. Their !_LT_U href=”http://www.systems.co.za/” target=_blank mce_href=”http://www.systems.co.za/”website!_LT_/U now brings up an error and their only surviving product seems to be !_LT_U href=”http://www.crn.co.za/” target=_blank mce_href=”http://www.crn.co.za/”CRN!_LT_/U.
In its heyday, Systems had a range of publications including its flagship, Computerweek. It was out of Systems that the current IT publishing power house, ITWeb, was born. And while ITWeb’s publications have continued to grow over the years, most other IT-focused publications seem to have stuttered and died.
Media24 tried and failed with Platform (2003), while Johnnic (now Avusa) also tried to get into the IT space with Computing SA. While the publication has been around for ages, in 2007 it went from being weekly to being monthly, which seemed reminiscent of System’s Computerweek going monthly before its demise. Avusa still publishes Computing SA but it only has a circulation of 4,164 (ABC, October to December 2007).
The only other IT Publishing houses to speak of are !_LT_U href=”http://www.technews.co.za/” target=_blank mce_href=”http://www.technews.co.za/”Tech News!_LT_/U and !_LT_U href=”http://www.ee.co.za/” target=_blank mce_href=”http://www.ee.co.za/”EE Publishers!_LT_/U, but they are more trade publications with content being driven by industry submissions.
Looking at ITWeb, there are number of reasons for its success. Firstly, it started as an online business and it was able to keep its costs down. Secondly its publisher, Jovan Regasek, and his initial team on editorial, sales and design are still there although editors and journalists seem to come and go on an annual basis. ITWeb has also always managed to have a number of products with which to create value in order to draw advertisers in.
ITWeb’s revenue has been driven for the majority of its life by a press office model on ITWeb Online, which was critical for ITWeb for the main reason that IT companies don’t see that much the value in advertising. After all, how do companies convey complex IT solutions through an advert in a magazine?
The brilliance of the press office model lies in the fact that it is cheaper for a company to pay an agency to create press releases and pay for a press office on ITWeb than it is to take out a couple of adverts. Press releases can also be distributed more widely with greater impact than advertising would.
ITWeb therefore capitalised on IT companies’ desire to get information out into the market, rather than building brand, and billed companies to reach its readers.
It was then able to use the good revenue it was generating off ITWeb Online to launch other online offerings like !_LT_U href=”http://www.careerweb.co.za/” target=_blank mce_href=”http://www.careerweb.co.za/”Career Web!_LT_/U; !_LT_U href=”http://www.trainingweb.co.za/” target=_blank mce_href=”http://www.trainingweb.co.za/”Training Web!_LT_/U and print offerings including Brainstorm, iWeek and Digital Life.
Recently it has moved into eventing, including launching a !_LT_U href=”http://www.itweb.co.za/office/digitallife/default.asp” target=_blank mce_href=”http://www.itweb.co.za/office/digitallife/default.asp”digital life expo!_LT_/U at the Sandton Convention Centre. It also runs a number of IT conferences and events throughout the year.
Back to the future
It still remains to be seen whether ITWeb becomes another Systems Publishers one day. For now that seems unlikely as it continues to release new products and recently had a significant BEE !_LT_U href=”http://www.itweb.co.za/sections/business/2008/0803051058.asp?S=Black%20Empowerment&A=BLE&O=FRGN” target=_blank mce_href=”http://www.itweb.co.za/sections/business/2008/0803051058.asp?S=Black%20Empowerment&A=BLE&O=FRGN”investment!_LT_/U from Mvelaphanda. But an industry dominated by a company with no competition invariably seems to lead to complacency and the rise of a more innovative successor.
This could already be the case with Avusa entering into the IT arena with the bi-monthly !_LT_U href=”http://www.stuffmag.co.za/” target=_blank mce_href=”http://www.stuffmag.co.za”Stuff!_LT_/U. The internationally licensed brand not only combines the killer partnership of women and gadgets, but Avusa has thrown significant marketing budget at it and distributed widely, something not even ITWeb has managed to get right with its print publications.
Avusa is also moving into the technology space with its new media innovation iLab and its !_LT_U href=”http://multimedia.thetimes.co.za/” target=_blank mce_href=”http://multimedia.thetimes.co.za/”multimedia division!_LT_/U. This will enable the use of technology in current publications. Should !_LT_EMStuff!_LT_/EM prove to be successful, it could see Avusa moving more seriously into the technology publishing space.