I don't want to say that newspapers are feeling beat up, but we were recently congratulated by a prospect for doing some very high profile work with the White House Historical Association. ("Thank goodness you don't entirely depend on newspapers for your survival.") Yes, we do projects outside our traditional market of newspapers. https://www.tnonline.com/jim-thorpe-man-gets-rare-invitation-oval-office.
Trump is the president, after all.
We're having a party. Actually it's a launch party for Scoop 7.
Scoop 7 is the culmination of a $100,000 rewrite of the Scoop editorial system. We've supported it for years. We bought the rights from Scoop's owner and re-engineered the entire system. The server component now runs on Linux. The separate clients for Macs and PCs are now one unified component made with the platform-independent Qt user interface library. The proprietary database management systems are replaced with open source PostgreSQL and ElasticSearch. And there was much more clean-up work.
What was once a popular, easy to use, full function editorial and library system is now a stunning new system that runs on a completely modern system architecture. Best of all, it is now enhanced and supported by SCS developers.
The launch party is on October 2nd at SCS's Nazareth offices. Lancaster Newspapers and several other current Scoop users are planning to attend. One meeting topic will be better integration of Scoop and other SCS products with their Town-News systems.
Here's a question: Are Lineup's AdPoint and/or The Washington Post's ARC the next big things? I couldn't guess. But here's the thing. When a newspaper group or large newspapers sign up to jump into these digital oriented technology offerings, they come to SCS for middleware and integration of best-of-breed design technology. New SCS newspaper customers like La Nacíon in Costa Rica and long term ones like the LA Times (and tronc/Tribune) use our stuff. SCS is, after all, the leader in display ad dummying and classified pagination.
Thank you, Lineup for this link.
Is artificial intelligence (AI) hot? You bet it is. SCS isn't trying to transition to the newest big data machine learning technology. That's unlikely to be applicable to newspaper production and design problems. But if you want the best in applied AI for newspapers, there is no one better or more experienced than SCS.
Layout-8000 does have a new machine learning module called LayoutHistoryAdBoss that remembers and synthesizes ad dummying decisions to aid in auto-dummying. It's going out with the newest release. That release also has new technology for supplying key performance indicators.
While we seek to serve those whose mission is to hold the powerful accountable, our mission is to keep their print business viable. For this we make labor saving systems that operate on an industrial scale, saving some of our larger customers hundreds of thousands of dollars per year.
Cloud hype. Surely the cloud is the next big thing. Actually, when a newspaper group consolidates production tasks, it typically does so using a private cloud. They use their own computing resources, not those of others.
Public clouds like those from Oracle, IBM, HPE, Amazon, Google, etc. are entirely different things. Cloud technology is cloud technology; the difference is in cost for both support and computing resources, latency, security, etc. None of these favor public cloud solutions. SCS does two things about this. First, when a newspaper group wishes to deploy an SCS solution in their private cloud, we have and do easily accommodate it. Second, the advantages of a private cloud solution are such that we supply and support our technology platform running on a local appliance.
SCS recently provided a dedicated private cloud platform to Times Shamrock Creative Services (TSCS). You've heard the phrase "print others or be printed." It's a new business model. That's what TSCS wanted for ad production. With an over $200,000 development effort for SCS/Track paid for by SCS, TSCS has an actively growing ad services business. And we now have an ad tracking product that can help our customers expand their business.
G5 is the next generation in wireless technology. There is no denying that G5 should be great. When it starts maturing in around 2020, it could revolutionize the way computing services are provided. One result is that it will likely offer a big fix to the issues with public cloud services.
G5 should be a faster, simpler, more secure and robust and less costly technology. With its platform independent solutions, SCS will make sure newspapers can take advantage of it.
To make this easier we have an ongoing refactoring effort to make all our applications run in a microservices systems architecture. It's an architecture for making SCS system components and those from others be even more easily integrated.
Our enthusiasm for Intel NUCs is unabated. We just deployed the 100th. Their high performance and low cost make them an ideal hardware solution for newspaper applications. That performance has been proved over and over again, most recently at TSCS, where dozens of ad builders and hundreds of remote users enjoy unequaled efficiencies in every aspect of ad management production.
Overall our conversion to providing systems using a SaaS model is going well. We are nearing the point where monthly recurring revenue equals our monthly costs. There are still significant perpetual license sales, but the SaaS sales now dominate. It's a good thing, but it would have been nice to have done it sooner.
We serve an industry that is being severely challenged. Joshua Benton of NiemanLab writes: "In the second quarter of 2018, McClatchy’s print advertising revenue dropped 26.4 percent year over year; Gannett was down 19.1 percent, Tronc 18 percent. They’re not making new daily print newspaper subscribers anymore, and existing ones either move to digital or shuffle off this mortal coil daily."
It's tough, to say the least.
So, that's what's new and trending at SCS. Much of it is a story of supplying less visible network "plumbing". We are often charged with making disparate subsystems work together. We're the middleware experts. Others get the bigger credit, but in the end we get the thanks for making systems work. Perhaps that's the way it should be.
Richard J. Cichelli
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