Few industries have been disrupted by the internet more than publishing. For centuries, content was paper-based. Now much information also is consumed online as well via any number of devices.
The format has changed, but publishers still charge subscription fees and managing those fees can be a full-time job. For companies that subscribe to a range of content, including news, professional medical and scientific journals, law manuals, and trade and consumer publications, managing those subscriptions often is a low priority. But in an era of automatic re-subscriptions, ignoring the costs can be costly.
That’s where cSubs comes in. CSubs, short for Corporate Subscription Management Services LLC, provides content management services to corporate and institutional customers. The Montvale, N.J.-based company provides what it calls knowledge resource management services designed to help businesses by tracking and managing the purchase, usage, and renewal of subscriptions, licenses, market data feeds, e-content, memberships, books and other content.
The company was founded in 2003 to manage subscriptions for print magazines, said Ken Redler, chief technology officer, in an interview at the SAP Ariba Live procurement conference in Las Vegas Tuesday. At that time, orders came in on fax machines, to be manually entered into cSubs’ information system.
“Not so today,” Redler said. “Over time, periodical subscriptions have changed, companies began adding websites, putting more information behind pay walls and expanding to offer searchable data.”
Large companies’ employees could have hundreds of subscriptions to content in multiple formats. “Every year there was more complexity in how to manage the content, such as convert subscriptions to site licenses and individual user accounts where they maybe want to change the level of access, and quantity of employee subscriptions.” International companies presented other subscription challenges, in postal requirements alone.
“We built the business to get in front of this complexity and manage content,” Redler said.
In 2005 cSubs launched an e-commerce site on the SAP Ariba Network and, within two years, 25% percent of the company’s business was coming from the online network. Its presence on the network opened the doors to do business with large national and multinational companies, Redler says. SAP Ariba Network is an online, cloud-based procurement portal. The network has 3.1 million buyers and sellers, and it transacted about $1.7 trillion in business last year, president Barry Padgett told conference attendees Tuesday.
In 2012, cSubs rolled out Clarity Service, a content and contract management application that uses the workflow capabilities of the network to provide customers centralized control of electronic content tasks and analytics, including pricing, contracts, access rights, renewals, usage statistics, and terms and conditions.
In addition to its content management services, cSubs also offers customers a customized cSubs website to manage their subscriptions.
CSubs has customers from a range of industries, including large pharmaceutical companies, banks, public relations firms and advertising agencies, accounting firms and a range of slightly smaller companies, Redler said. Their needs often coincide with costs.
“Companies need our service when they reach a certain size,” he said. “Once their subscription spend approaches seven figures, they might not have an employee dedicated to this task or might have subsidiaries with their own processes and systems. They might not have the institutional will to develop and to manage this thing.”
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