New Study: B2B Information Industry Undergoing Seismic Shift as Companies Focus on Digital, Data and Events

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A fundamental shift is underway in the B2B media and information industry, as companies increasingly rely on digital products and events and plan future investments in data analytics, according to a new CEO survey. The 2015 Business Information Survey was released today by Connectiv – The Business Information Association, a division of SIIA, the principal association representing the software and digital content industries.

The study sheds new light on how digital and other services are reshaping the industry, and finds that a significant realignment of company revenue mix will take place by 2020. However, the study also indicates that the B2B industry’s digital transformation is more complex than a simple replacement of old media with new media – and in fact, while digital and events will take a lead role, print will continue to contribute as part of the omnichannel distribution platform.

Mike Marchesano, managing director of Connectiv, said, “Our study gives a clear indication that the shift from print to digital will move into hyper-speed over the next few years. Companies have already made substantial investments in digital categories, and they clearly have no plans to slow down. In fact, we find that data analytics will be the top category for planned headcount increases in the year ahead. While print’s share of overall revenue will shrink considerably, it is expected to remain a key part of companies’ diverse product offerings. Events are also expected to contribute significantly to the overall revenue mix.

“The B2B media and information industry’s continued investment in digital will impact millennials the most,” Marchesano continued. “As companies transform to include more digital products and services, millennials with digital expertise are likely to see promising career opportunities.”

Changing Revenue Mix
It has been widely reported that print is being challenged by other forms of B2B communication, and the survey clearly indicates that a fundamental shift is underway. By 2020 companies predict that the largest share of their overall revenue will come from events (growing to 24 percent, from 22 percent in 2015), followed closely by paid content and data products (23 percent, from 20 percent in 2015) and digital resources (21 percent, from 17 percent in 2015).

Far less revenue will come from print resources, with companies expecting to see a drop from 28 percent of total revenue to 18 percent in 2020. But the story is not simply that digital revenue will overtake print revenue – rather, companies are predicting a far more even mix where all revenue sources except print are expected to increase proportionately from current levels.

Increased Investment in Data
According to the study, business information companies are well diversified with more than 80 percent deriving revenue from all five key industry categories: digital resources, paid content/data/information products, events/programs, marketing service products, and print resources. However, digital is clearly becoming essential as 97 percent of companies report generating 2015 revenue in this category.

B2B media and information companies clearly understand the power of data, and Connectiv’s Business Information Survey finds they plan to invest in it – 50 percent of companies surveyed intend to increase headcount in the area of “data analysis” (7 percentage points higher than any other area of staffing). Development/programming (40 percent) and digital operations (37 percent) are also among the top areas in which headcount increases are planned.

The 2015 Business Outlook Survey interviewed over a third of Connectiv member CEOs of leading B2B business media organizations and was fielded online by Readex Research, Inc. Respondents’ companies represent information businesses of all sizes and with an average of $43.8 million in annual revenues. The Connectiv membership represents over 200 world-class business information companies that reach an audience of more than 100 million professionals. These companies drive more than $20 billion in annual revenues, and their collective industries represent a $400 billion global market.

Allison Allison is the Marketing Communications Manager at SIIA.
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