Last week, Silverchair & Hum released the third annual Publishing Tech Trends report, which brings together insights and predictions from 17 industry leaders on what 2024 will hold for scholarly publishing. Below, we share the report's introduction, written by Silverchair CEO Will Schweitzer, with his own predictions and recommendations for the year ahead.

2023 felt different, and in many ways it was.

While OpenAI launched ChatGPT in November 2022, the launch of its iOS and Android apps in May and July 2023 brought more widespread and urgent attention to the possibilities of generative artificial intelligence (gen AI). The app (and related technologies) were adopted by businesses and consumers at the fastest rate ever, establishing a new zenith for a wide set of technologies introduced in the last century.

What is particularly compelling (or concerning), is the broad applicability of generative technologies to multiple aspects of researcher and publisher workflows, and the potential risk of large language models (LLMs) to up-end our industry’s value pyramid. At a particularly introspective moment while considering the potential disintermediation of publishers, I remembered the opening line from a New York Times essay by Leon Wieseltier, “Amid the bacchanal of disruption, let us pause to honor the disrupted.” Wieseltier wrote that nine years ago.

At the same time, I am well aware of the incredible novelty and value of scholarly content, as well as the complexity of our ecosystem.

To no one’s surprise, there will be many insights about AI and publishing in the pages to come. As Gartner’s Hype Cycle reminds us, however, we shouldn’t over-index on one technology, process, or product – the trends are what’s important.

  1. There will be rapid advancements in the applications of AI. Commercial marketplaces and research ecosystems will emerge. We’ll learn all about agent swarms, orchestration frameworks, throttling, and the tradeoffs between building on top of foundational and smaller custom models.
  2. Publishers will sharpen their business-to-consumer (B2C) focus. There’ll be wider adoption of key marketing technologies, like customer data platforms (CDPs), lead generation software, and digital experience platforms. We’ll hear a lot more about author experience (AX) and consumer-facing products developed by repurposing or repackaging content with AI.
  3. Continued market uncertainty, disruptive threats, and faster technology adoption will lead publishers to change or make greater investments in core systems and processes. After 20 years of shifting our products from print to digital, from subscription to open, and navigating Covid disruptions, we know the dangers of stasis. Publishers that focus on the technologies that underpin their value proposition will find efficiencies, margin, happier stakeholders, and a stronger foundation for experimentation and new product development.
In 2024 publishers should be fast followers and make small bets following larger commercial players and the consumer market. More importantly, we all need to evaluate our budgets and decision frameworks. How we should make decisions about experiments and emerging technologies is vastly different than established products and off-the-shelf applications. Different skillsets are needed. The investment, risk, and return profiles are exceptionally different. We’ll all need contingency and to become highly adaptive learning leaders. 2024 requires investment and common sense.

All of us at Hum and Silverchair wish you the best of luck in 2024, and we look forward to learning alongside you.


Download the full 2024 Publishing Tech Trends report here.

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