The b-to-b media industry has undergone two decades of rapid transformation, and the pace of the change is only gaining speed.
Twenty years ago, after the recession of 1991 demonstrated the vulnerability of print advertising pages, the b-to-b publishing industry experienced a wave of innovation as publishers explored media beyond magazines. Larger publishing companies, in particular, explored new relationships with trade shows, and some of the more ambitious companies bought exhibitions.
In the mid-1990s, b-to-b publishers, led by tech companies such as CMP Media, International Data Group and Ziff Davis, truly became multimedia companies by venturing onto the Web.
Traditional b-to-b media companies followed the path of these tech bellwethers. Spurred by their example, economic downturns and new competition (such as Facebook and Google), b-to-b media companies have responded with almost constant innovation over the past dozen years. Comparatively recent innovations—such as community sites, mobile apps, social media and virtual trade shows—are now revenue mainstays.
The dozen executives recognized here as the 2012 Top Innovators in Business Publishing
are proof that innovation is not limited to new digital products. Innovation is a mindset that is a necessity across the entire organization.
The CEOs foster a culture of innovation. The publishing executives apply innovative ideas to the brands they oversee. The digital executives create new generations of innovative interactive products. And the events, production and audience development executives find new ways to implement groundbreaking ideas in their arenas and help make sure innovation endures across the company.