Innovative Publishing

Books 2.0: Juggernaut’s bold new social reading and publishing venture goes live on mobiles

An app that aims to transform reading is a huge bet to attract smartphone warriors to books.

What happens when a curated online bookshop, rich with the promise of browsing and sampling, is combined with the minimalist environment of an e-book reader? You have the Juggernaut reading app.

Or, the all-new way of discovering and buying books, reading (and, later) writing books, and chatting with writers.

Or, the way Durga Raghunath, CEO of publishing company Juggernaut, thinks of it, a Netflix of books. Where you first have an interesting time looking up what you want to read, and then shut out everything else to just read.

Juggernaut, of course, is the brainchild of Chiki Sarkar, most lately publisher at Penguin Random House India, who has, along with Raghunath and a hand-picked team of editors, been extraordinarily quick in getting books out to readers.

It’s a grand, new experiment, which aims to do nothing less than get huge numbers of India’s biggest demographic segment – some 60 per cent of the population is under 30 – to read books. Not, however, in the way that their parents did, but in their favourite space – the smartphone.

Taking the experience beyond the e-book, Sarkar and Raghunath, powered by a technology and a usability team – largely unknown ideas in publishing – have just launched the Juggernaut app with the idea of taking books to young readers in a form familiar to them today, instead of waiting for them to come to books. Along the way, the app will also offer a brand new experience to writers.

What readers will get

Launching with 100 titles, Juggernaut has a line-up comprising 50 of its own books, and 50 more from publishing partners, among them being children’s publishers like Duckbill and Tulika Book. Juggernaut’s own list is, as one might expect from Sarkar, an engaging combination of well-known people writing unusual things (Sunny Leone’s short stories, Praveen Swami’s thrillers, Rajdeep Sardesai on cricket), power writers on home turf (William Dalrymple), first-time writers (Abheek Barua), and books on behavioural hot buttons (on overcoming heartbreak, for instance).

There’s a strong focus on genre fiction – crime, thrillers, fantasy, and even classics packaged to look contemporary – as a strategy for attracting younger readers who might not be excited enough by top notch names in literary fiction. More significant, however, are the ways in which the form is being fitted to smartphone-reading.

Not only have Sarkar and her team reduced the baseline length of their books to around 20,000 words, they’re also experimenting with serialisation and timed arrivals (a Sunny Leone story pops into your app every night at 10 PM for seven successive days). So the offering is no longer limited to a book, but extends to include how it will be read.

New forms of pricing

Young readers may have champagne tastes but beer wallets, reckons Raghunath. And the business plan for Juggernaut depends not on the individual sale of each title – the traditional method used by publishers – but on repeat purchases by each reader. That, after all, is one of the main reasons for creating an app, to be returned to, re-explored, and re-occupied repeatedly, instead of just e-books.

So, learning from the Netflix model, there is a strong layer of subscription-based pricing, with both daily and monthly passes. Rs 15 a day or Rs 299 a month (with five books at a time available for offline reading) will give a reader all she can read in that period. This, of course, is in addition to buying individual books, which will be downloaded to the phone. And with payment being as simple as paying for an Uber or Ola cab, the publishers are hoping to take the pain and inhibition out of paying online.

Discovering books

Although 100 books may not seem too large a list to go through even in linear fashion, the app is designed, obviously, for a much larger repository, so that each reader can find books aligned to their specific interest. The general presentation is influenced by media apps, with specific books being highlighted and positioned visually much in the same way as the biggest news stories of the hour are on a news media offering.

The idea is to build a relationship between a reader and a book – “Do I like this? do I want to recommend it to others? do I want to read it over and over again?” Like shortlisted potential dates on Tinder, users of this app will be building their personal lists of books they want to try out.

A critical aspect of the presentation is the cover of the book. Realising the value of the fill-screen image when it comes to converting interest to purchase, Juggernaut has designed the app for people to play with the cover visuals as they would with photographs on social media. And yes, this meant testing covers rigorously.

A brave new world for writers

For writers, almost everything will change. The Juggernaut app will add two transformative elements to the writer’s life. First, readers will not only rate the books they read, but they will also be able to ask the writer questions, using the app, before, during, or after reading a book. While this is possible even through a writer’s Facebook or Twitter pages, here the reader will most likely be actually reading the book while talking about with the writer.

Of course, writers must be prepared to respond. Getting to know exactly what readers think of your book – not as an aggregation of ritualistic ‘likes’ but as actual, individualised, responses, can be both exhilarating as well as daunting.

It’s not yet clear whether Juggernaut’s authors are aware that they have signed up not for a largely passive book-reading device like the Kindle, but a social reading app. And the more successful a writer is, the more they are likely to wake up in the morning to a flood of questions to be answered – quickly. And this could be a long-term experience if the book keeps selling.

The second change will be the pleasure – or pain – of tracking sales almost in real-time. Every writer will have a dashboard to find out exactly how many digital copies of their books have been sold. This will take the opacity out of the process, which currently comprises the annual royalty statement and occasional checking of the rank of a book on Amazon’s charts. But it will also make ecstasy and/or heartbreak instant.

What’s not out yet

A later version of the Juggernaut app will see it becoming not just a reading but also a writing space. Much like Wattpad, amateurs – and no one’s keeping the professionals out, either – will be able to add their original work and have it read, critiqued, discussed and, possibly, up- or downvoted by everyone reading. And from these community authors could emerge writers whose books Juggernaut will pick up, based on the popular response, for its main list.

Even in its first version, the app will blur the thin line between readers and writers. Once the community writing module is integrated, the line could disappear altogether. The outcome could be a transformative democratisation, with the gatekeeping roles of editing and publishing becoming less relevant as readers access the marketplace directly and pick what they like, without having the leave the environment in which they read works that have been through the formal publishing process. Writers will certainly have to respond in new ways to this new reality.

The success of Juggernaut’s reading app cannot be measured by its ability to please the existing reader. It doesn’t matter whether today’s reader takes to the app or not, since that will not expand the number of readers. If the app gains large number of first-time readers, it will have succeeded.

But while the app may be instrumental in getting non-readers to try reading, only the availability of great books will keep those readers coming back for more. This is where, working in a new space, Juggernaut will have to break new ground. Because yesterday’s books, even if shortened for a digital generation, might not be enough – the goalposts have to be shifted.

For both Juggernaut and Indian publishing, the success of the app will be a gamechanger. While there will be print editions of some (not all) of the books too, it’s the digital play that will make or break this venture.

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The next Industrial Revolution is here – driven by the digitalization of manufacturing processes

Technologies such as Industry 4.0, IoT, robotics and Big Data analytics are transforming the manufacturing industry in a big way.

The manufacturing industry across the world is seeing major changes, driven by globalization and increasing consumer demand. As per a report by the World Economic Forum and Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Ltd on the future of manufacturing, the ability to innovate at a quicker pace will be the major differentiating factor in the success of companies and countries.

This is substantiated by a PWC research which shows that across industries, the most innovative companies in the manufacturing sector grew 38% (2013 - 2016), about 11% year on year, while the least innovative manufacturers posted only a 10% growth over the same period.

Along with innovation in products, the transformation of manufacturing processes will also be essential for companies to remain competitive and maintain their profitability. This is where digital technologies can act as a potential game changer.

The digitalization of the manufacturing industry involves the integration of digital technologies in manufacturing processes across the value chain. Also referred to as Industry 4.0, digitalization is poised to reshape all aspects of the manufacturing industry and is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. Integral to Industry 4.0 is the ‘smart factory’, where devices are inter-connected, and processes are streamlined, thus ensuring greater productivity across the value chain, from design and development, to engineering and manufacturing and finally to service and logistics.

Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, artificial intelligence and Big Data analytics are some of the key technologies powering Industry 4.0. According to a report, Industry 4.0 will prompt manufacturers globally to invest $267 billion in technologies like IoT by 2020. Investments in digitalization can lead to excellent returns. Companies that have implemented digitalization solutions have almost halved their manufacturing cycle time through more efficient use of their production lines. With a single line now able to produce more than double the number of product variants as three lines in the conventional model, end to end digitalization has led to an almost 20% jump in productivity.

Digitalization and the Indian manufacturing industry

The Make in India program aims to increase the contribution of the manufacturing industry to the country’s GDP from 16% to 25% by 2022. India’s manufacturing sector could also potentially touch $1 trillion by 2025. However, to achieve these goals and for the industry to reach its potential, it must overcome the several internal and external obstacles that impede its growth. These include competition from other Asian countries, infrastructural deficiencies and lack of skilled manpower.

There is a common sentiment across big manufacturers that India lacks the eco-system for making sophisticated components. According to FICCI’s report on the readiness of Indian manufacturing to adopt advanced manufacturing trends, only 10% of companies have adopted new technologies for manufacturing, while 80% plan to adopt the same by 2020. This indicates a significant gap between the potential and the reality of India’s manufacturing industry.

The ‘Make in India’ vision of positioning India as a global manufacturing hub requires the industry to adopt innovative technologies. Digitalization can give the Indian industry an impetus to deliver products and services that match global standards, thereby getting access to global markets.

The policy, thus far, has received a favourable response as global tech giants have either set up or are in the process of setting up hi-tech manufacturing plants in India. Siemens, for instance, is helping companies in India gain a competitive advantage by integrating industry-specific software applications that optimise performance across the entire value chain.

The Digital Enterprise is Siemens’ solution portfolio for the digitalization of industries. It comprises of powerful software and future-proof automation solutions for industries and companies of all sizes. For the discrete industries, the Digital Enterprise Suite offers software and hardware solutions to seamlessly integrate and digitalize their entire value chain – including suppliers – from product design to service, all based on one data model. The result of this is a perfect digital copy of the value chain: the digital twin. This enables companies to perform simulation, testing, and optimization in a completely virtual environment.

The process industries benefit from Integrated Engineering to Integrated Operations by utilizing a continuous data model of the entire lifecycle of a plant that helps to increase flexibility and efficiency. Both offerings can be easily customized to meet the individual requirements of each sector and company, like specific simulation software for machines or entire plants.

Siemens has identified projects across industries and plans to upgrade these industries by connecting hardware, software and data. This seamless integration of state-of-the-art digital technologies to provide sustainable growth that benefits everyone is what Siemens calls ‘Ingenuity for Life’.

Case studies for technology-led changes

An example of the implementation of digitalization solutions from Siemens can be seen in the case of pharma major Cipla Ltd’s Kurkumbh factory.

Cipla needed a robust and flexible distributed control system to dispense and manage solvents for the manufacture of its APIs (active pharmaceutical ingredients used in many medicines). As part of the project, Siemens partnered with Cipla to install the DCS-SIMATIC PCS 7 control system and migrate from batch manufacturing to continuous manufacturing. By establishing the first ever flow Chemistry based API production system in India, Siemens has helped Cipla in significantly lowering floor space, time, wastage, energy and utility costs. This has also improved safety and product quality.

In yet another example, technology provided by Siemens helped a cement plant maximise its production capacity. Wonder Cement, a greenfield project set up by RK Marbles in Rajasthan, needed an automated system to improve productivity. Siemens’ solution called CEMAT used actual plant data to make precise predictions for quality parameters which were previously manually entered by operators. As a result, production efficiency was increased and operators were also freed up to work on other critical tasks. Additionally, emissions and energy consumption were lowered – a significant achievement for a typically energy intensive cement plant.

In the case of automobile major, Mahindra & Mahindra, Siemens’ involvement involved digitalizing the whole product development system. Siemens has partnered with the manufacturer to provide a holistic solution across the entire value chain, from design and planning to engineering and execution. This includes design and software solutions for Product Lifecycle Management, Siemens Technology for Powertrain (STP) and Integrated Automation. For Powertrain, the solutions include SINUMERIK, SINAMICS, SIMOTICS and SIMATIC controls and drives, besides CNC and PLC-controlled machines linked via the Profinet interface.

The above solutions helped the company puts its entire product lifecycle on a digital platform. This has led to multi-fold benefits – better time optimization, higher productivity, improved vehicle performance and quicker response to market requirements.

Siemens is using its global expertise to guide Indian industries through their digital transformation. With the right technologies in place, India can see a significant improvement in design and engineering, cutting product development time by as much as 30%. Besides, digital technologies driven by ‘Ingenuity for Life’ can help Indian manufacturers achieve energy efficiency and ensure variety and flexibility in their product offerings while maintaining quality.

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The above examples of successful implementation of digitalization are just some of the examples of ‘Ingenuity for Life’ in action. To learn more about Siemens’ push to digitalize India’s manufacturing sector, see here.

This article was produced on behalf of Siemens by the Scroll.in marketing team and not by the Scroll.in editorial staff.