Knowledgespeak Exclusive: An Interview with George Lossius, CEO, Publishing Technology PLC -

Q

Knowledgespeak: Give us a brief update on Publishing Technology since you were last featured in Knowledgespeak in November 2007?

A

George Lossius: The last time I was interviewed by KnowledgeSpeak, Publishing Technology had recently been formed through the merger of the Ingenta and VISTA brands. Since then the company has gone from strength to strength - investing more in R&D, growing in size, opening new offices across the globe and becoming more profitable as a business. The company and its related products and services have evolved significantly. We have launched new products to market, such as our Online publishing platform pub2web, and developed and innovated other products, such as new Publishing Enterprise Management system advance, so we are now in a more competitive position across our target market sectors. At the same time we have extended considerably our Market Communications activities notably now managing the BioOne sales marketing and fulfillment.
We have also acted on our desire to reach new markets outside traditional North America and Europe leading to our new offices in Brazil and (very soon) India, a partnership in Japan, and discussions on joint ventures in China.

Q

Knowledgespeak: What, according to you, are the major developments that have affected the publishing industry, especially in the scholarly sector? What are the key trends in publishing to watch for in the near future?

A

George Lossius: Technology and the rise of consumers have and are having an immense impact. Semantic Web will become crucial, especially to scholarly publishers. Without effective Semantic Web, publishers of the future may find that their content disappears into a black hole, so searchability and discoverability will become vital areas of concern. When it comes to eBooks, scholarly, trade and reference publishers are investing heavily in strategies and technologies that will enable them to convert content to these platforms to benefit from the increases mobile and eReader devices. In the scholarly and library market, this has brought Patron Driven Acquisition (PDA) into play and this will continue to be a major theme in the future, transforming the way information and content is delivered and received via these new devices. In general, I would say that publishers across the board are having to listen more attentively to consumers and end users than ever before. They are the trend setters and publishers will be judged on how quickly and efficiently they can react to their needs, making the need to be truly Information Commerce capable critical.

Q

Knowledgespeak: CQ Press was acquired by SAGE in May 2008. Can you please briefly talk about this commercial move and the resultant synergies?

A

Jasper Simons : Both Sage and CQ Press share a long tradition of providing products that impact education and public policy. CQ Press has deeps roots in Washington DC, dating back to 1945. Our Congressional Staff Directory was first published in 1959. CQ Press continues as a dedicated inside-the-beltway publisher, while at the same time benefiting from Sage’s excellent capabilities in serving the global community of scholars, practitioners, researchers and students.

Q

Knowledgespeak: Earlier last month, CQ Press announced the launch of a specialized service called First Street. Can you please provide some general detail and background on this new initiative?

A

Jasper Simons : Most directory publishing is focused on ensuring the most current information is available. CQ Press saw an opportunity in the marketplace to combine its proprietary archive of directory information and its current directory content with government data to create the world’s first policy network intelligence platform. It is a mega-database that consolidates Congressional, government and lobbying information from authoritative data sources dating back to 1993. It gives an unprecedented understanding of the relationships shaping policy.

Q

Knowledgespeak: Is First Street™ more competitive than other similar services offered by Bloomberg and Politico?

A

Jasper Simons : Bloomberg Government and Politico Pro offer editorial content that is a direct extension of their existing activities. First Street™ offers something entirely new. Never before has anyone connected the professional career paths of registered lobbyists, those in Congress, and federal staff on a rich platform with information on contributions, lobbying, legislation, issues and districts. On top of that First Street™ provides next generation data visualization tools. The end result is actionable policy network intelligence.

Q

Knowledgespeak: As First Street™ relates to diverse data sources, what, according to you, will be the main challenges in maintaining First Street™ as the most preferable source for the target audiences?

A

Jasper Simons : There is a vast audience of those who try to affect policy in Washington. Every day professionals in corporations, associations and lobbying firms are trying to get an edge in their efforts to have their voice heard. There is only so much time in a day and there are many competing interests. Having accurate targeted content at your finger tips that you can trust and rely on will give them a lead over others. It is incumbent on CQ Press, through First Street, to maintain itself as the authoritative voice on directory information within the beltway.

Q

Knowledgespeak: With First Street displaying the relationships between staffers, lobbyists, and members of Congress, is this new product likely to be a social media tool in Government space?

A

Jasper Simons : The New York Times called First Street™ a "Facebook for Lobbyists". There are some parallels but also some notable differences. Yes, we provide insight into the networks of movers and shakers in Washington, but we provide that through their professional relationships.We provide objective connections between people, not subjective, self-selected friendships. We couple that with our biographies and profiles to offer a true policy network intelligence platform.

Q

Knowledgespeak: As part of one of the most successful academic publishers, can you briefly summarize how the needs of information-consumers, especially in the US, have evolved in the recent few years?

A

Jasper Simons : In recent years, many of the developments in the STM publishing space have been centered around how content is delivered and how it is being discovered. To date, the core content (journals and books) and their business models have not changed as much as some had feared or hoped. The number of players in the content channel has substantially increased though. As a result, publisher run the risk of becoming further and further removed from the end users. Providing smart solutions that blend and leverage valuable content and intuitive platforms is the way forward.

Q

Knowledgespeak: Finally can you please provide your/CQ press' perspective on the backdrop of the rapidly increasing activity in the Washington DC publishing arena?

A

Jasper Simons : The news industry is undergoing many changes. News organizations are trying to monetize their editorial efforts in light of decreasing print revenues. It will be interesting to see if these organizations can adapt. At CQ Press we focus on Washington’s unique and highly competitive and constantly changing social landscape, as we have for decades. First Street™ provides a knowledge edge to those who want to affect policy. First Street™ unlocks the networks that shape policy and provides actionable government intelligence. These are exciting times!


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