Tuesday 8 October 2013

Steve Smith, President and CEO at Wiley: Persevering in the Middle

Steve Smith, President & CEO of Wiley
Steve Smith, President and CEO of Wiley, opened the Contec conference at Frankfurt Book Fair with a call for publishers to expand along the value chain of their customers.

Wiley traditionally focused its offering in pedagogical support and active teaching evaluation. Through their acquisition of Deltak, they now offer a total turn-key solution for the provision of higher education.

Transformation in the business has to go beyond digital. Go deep: it is no longer enough to be a provider of information. You must build a relationship with your community. Solutions are found through deep knowledge of customer workflows to find ways to solve their pain points and go beyond their needs. You must focus on outcomes, for example, in research recognise the key driver to publish articles is reputation, develop proven outcomes that will support that. 

He reflected that it has to be digital. Their scholarly journals business is now 85% digital. They produce highly discoverable, enriched content using enrichment and semantic tagging. However, they still continue to depend on library budgets. And it's a fact these budgets are not growing to keep pace with spending of research and development.

There are some major challenges in the digital marketplace. In some segments of the business, substitution is an issue. Consumers find they can get access that is good enough to solve their needs, free to use and paid for by advertising. There is a change in the balance of power between device manufacturers and content distributors on one hand and content creators on the other. You have empowered and demanding consumers. As we have seen with ebook pricing, digital business models are often weaker than traditional, legacy models.

Wiley have responded by looking at pain points for customers and developing solutions through their value chain. They looked at the research cycle to see where they could provide business solutions to help the community. Smith broke this down into a cycle with four stages:
  1. Ideation: they provide competitive intelligence, insight and decision support, literature interaction and data review.
  2. Planning: opportunities to help with grant-writing, compliance and research planning.
  3. Experimentation: solutions around protocols, data management, data analysis and resource management.
  4. Dissemination: assistance with data sharing, IP protection, publication and networking.
On the professional side, they have shifted their focus to the 'Wiley Career Arc'. Again, it is through looking at the pain points in career development - from leaving university with the qualifications, but not necessarily the skills, to securing the necessary professional practice qualifications - their focus shifts from educational practice to being all about people and jobs.

You must leverage strengths and assets. How do you cope with the challenge of how to develop new business solutions at the same time as enhancing and protecting your core, legacy business? Focus on your content strengths and build on your deep knowledge of the communities you serve. Expand along the value chain of the customer and build/partner/acquire to deliver this (as they did with Deltak). 

Innovation that isn't customer led is not going to be successful. 

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