The Corner Office: A ‘Professional’ Approach to Multiformat Publishing
With the migration to digital come further challenges, such as how to keep pace with enhancements in technology, new uses of digital content and talent management. Technology is changing at a very rapid pace. We are seeing enhancements to existing devices and the introduction of new apps appearing at breakneck speed. For a large organization like McGraw-Hill, how do you keep pace with these developments? The answer is to cultivate an entrepreneurial mind-set and an innovation culture within the organization. … We knew we had to experiment with the app community. And not all the apps are hits. Some are clearly better than others. But the knowledge and experience we gained in building these with our partners is invaluable.
In the new digitally focused organization, attracting talent that is comfortable with a digital agenda is equally challenging. … Finding people who are comfortable with moving a digital program forward, where the rules are being written as we speak, that's the challenge.
● How have you determined which titles to offer as apps, and what has been the customers' response?
Ruppel: … What we found was that the more functional apps, the ones that deliver real value and help in the workflow, are the ones that sell—regardless of price. Seems logical now, but this wasn't so clear a year ago.
We now understand what customers respond to—and what they will pay for—and we are adjusting our app development with this in mind. For McGraw-Hill, medical content continues to be strong in this environment, and test prep and certification is also strong.
● What is MHP's e-book strategy?
Ruppel: [We] participated in many of the early e-book launches well over a decade ago. … Our philosophy then and now is that we need to be part of these ventures. And so, when the e-book business really started to gain traction about two to three years ago, we were well-positioned to be a major player. … Our content was, for the most part, in the right format. We had worked out any rights issues years before in our contracts. We had built a robust content management system whereby we could supply distributors with files when and where they needed them.