Reengineering Your Business to the 3.0 World (CIC Snapshot)

At AEP’s 2011 Content in Context conference Randy Wilhelm, netTrekker; Todd Brekhus, Capstone Digital; Kathy Hurley, Pearson Education & Pearson Foundation; and Michael Johnson, Full Potential Associates discussed how their companies are moving forward in these challenging times.

Todd Brekhus, President, Capstone Digital gave a specific example of how Capstone had to reengineer its thought process when approaching the digital market.

  • His first reaction at entering Capstone was wow, a lot of phenomenal K-8 content is being created each year, but the final products were a lot of print books. He wanted to take this mass of content and put it in a learning management environment.
  • The company had already started created a database of content, but there was a lot of information to organize. Capstone Digital was formed to take over the project and create a team that could handle transition in house.
  • Brekhus started with a project manager mentality rather than an editorial mentality: What do kids want, what do teachers want, and what do schools want?
  • The team also needed to connect the business to key principles that are already working in software, e.g., Get into the mindset of a solution, not a product. Brekhus says Capstone Digital is a solutions business that runs along side Capstone’s library business.
  • Core learning moment for Capstone was figuring our how to step outside of their traditional library market while still keeping their core customers in mind.

Kathy Hurley, SVP Strategic Partnerships, Pearson Education and Pearson Foundation discussed implications for sales and marketing in the 3.0 world.

  • Pearson is moving away from individual products and moving towards offering solutions, which means that the sales people need to change how they approach their clients. Sales people are anxious to sell a product, and they are retraining people to sit and listen, find out what the customer needs, and sell them the solutions (whether it’s print and digital versions of the same product, print products with webinars, or other combinations.)
  • For sales and marketing, customers need to know history and credibility, but they also need to know you can help them with their future. They need to focus on what the solutions will do to help schools achieve future goals.
  • Publishers need to convince their sales reps that the current ways of are not working anymore and that they have to change their methods to thrive in the digital world. Retraining is critical–people have to adapt to this environment. You need people who are adaptable and understand modern-day marketing.
  • Be willing to let people go who are not willing to adapt and be willing to work to keep the key staff on board.
  • The one rule to remember is to talk to the customers. They are going to lead you in the direction you need to go in. They will help you with the vision. Talk to students as well and find out what they are using and what they think they need.

Michael Johnson, Founder, Full Potential Associates advised the attendees on the internal changes that occur when reconfiguring your business model.

  • If you are going to change core aspects of what you are offering, you need to investigate the abilities of the people in your company and make sure they are in the right place for your new business model. You also need to consider the differences between the print and digital world as you make the transition.
  • Product numbers are different with digital than print products. Quite often there are platform prices, subscription prices, etc.; these are often difficult to reconcile with current systems from cash flow to tax implications.
  •  Technology products are almost always 24/7. People expect a digital product to work when they push the button–not when your office opens. There is a whole new set of customer service that needs to happen–tech vs. a curriculum question–and you need to be ready to assist customers on all issues.
  • The reality is that good content sells, so don’t focus on the medium and whether or not print will die. Focus on selling the quality of the content.
  • Understand that the digital transition from a print book to a digital book, it’s from a print thing to a digital thing that has its own scope and sequence.

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June 2011


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