The publishing industry needs to look to e-commerce sites and other sectors to help it innovate online, Tom Turcan, former general manager for digital at Guardian News & Media, said at a digital media forum yesterday.

"It is surprising how little coverage e-commerce gets compared to microblogging or the latest social media widget," said Turcan, a business consultant who was speaking at an Association of Online Publishers (AOP) event on managing change in digital businesses.

"These sites are offering richer user experiences. There is an opportunity for the media and publishing industry to find ways into this sector. But it's an industry that's going to turn into a threat if they don't because these sites are going to grow," said Turcan, who was responsible for introducing a new platform for Guardian.co.uk.

Media organisations that are making changes to their traditional business and editorial models to incorporate online publishing should look at how other established companies have made the move into digital, he added.

"When one looks outside the industry, it's possible to see companies that have transformed themselves in [the same] ways that companies inside the industry are looking at," said Turcan.

Fellow speaker at the event, Edwin Ulak, publishing director, digital, of Trader Media, described AutoTrader's move from a print-focused title to a digital business. [More to follow from Journalism.co.uk on this]

"We need to get better as an industry at changing and transforming. We share potential threats. If there is a better pool of talent and sharing of knowledge amongst us that is to our benefit," he said.

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