On the face of it, it’s tough to draw parallels between one of Britain’s oldest publishing business and small, fast-growing firms in the digital, or any other, industry sector. But there’s some useful lessons to be learnt here that apply to any business, especially those based on intellectual property.
Last week, the folks at Fresh Minds invited me to a breakfast roundtable with guest speaker, Mark Anderson, President of Strategy for Pearson International who took us on a tour of Pearson International’s journey from book publisher to one of the world’s largest education providers.
What does it take to transform an organisation in a very traditional and challenged business to a truly global corporation with profitable businesses in emerging markets? The answer it turns out, is taken straight from the start-up lexicon, a pivot. For 3 founders in a co-working space, this is no big deal for a £1bn FTSE-listed company it’s a slightly bigger deal.
The answer for Pearson has been to focus on its educational business and a slow transformation from a high-volume, low margin publishing business to a lower volume, far higher margin education business. It’s a story of understanding customers and where they place value. If it’s not in your traditional products or services, it’s time to change.