Magazine article Information Today

Publishing Technology Is Poised for Growth

Magazine article Information Today

Publishing Technology Is Poised for Growth

Article excerpt

VISTA International (www.vista comp.com), a provider of software solutions and services for all aspects of the publishing industry, and Ingenta (www.ingenta.com), a provider of technology and services to the publishing and information industry, announced plans on Feb. 2, 2007, to merge the companies. The merger was finalized on Feb. 27. I talked with the company's new CEO in late April to hear what's been happening and what plans are in the works for the merged company, now called Publishing Technology (www.pub lishingtechnology.com)--a nicely descriptive but not very catchy company name. George Lossius was previously the group chief executive of VISTA International with responsibility for the overall corporate management and strategic direction of VISTA.

Q: Tell us what's been happening since the merger was finalized.

A: We have been integrating parts of the businesses--a lot of the back-office processes, both in the U.S. and in the U.K. This has taken quite a bit of our time. We are closing the office that we had in Providence, Mass., which had reduced in size over the years. But, by not filling vacated positions and using temps, we were careful not to get into a position of having to lay off people. The main focus for Ingenta in the states had become Cambridge, Mass., and for VISTA, its New Jersey office.

Q: While you've said you wanted to grow the company's U.S. presence, it is still headquartered in the U.K., isn't it?

A: Yes, it is a British company. (I'm Norwegian, by the way. I actually lived in Manhattan for 5 years.) We do have some work to do to be better perceived in the North American market. Our revenues are actually slightly more from the U.S. than elsewhere. We now have some 70 people in the U.S. (of a total of 170 employees for the merged company). We are increasing the size of our U.S. sales and marketing teams and spending much more time on marketing efforts than we have in the past. Fortunately, the merger allows us to spend a bit more than we could as individual entities. We'll also be increasing the customer services we offer for our Ingenta library services products. There's a great deal of opportunity in the states--more so than in the U.K.--and we want to try to grab as much of it as we can.

Q: The company occupies a position in the middle, having to acquire and satisfy both its publishing customers and its library customers. I saw that you listed 250 publishers as clients. I thought Ingenta formerly listed 300. Was there a loss? Can you also clarify the number of library customers--was it something like 20,000?

A: I think the actual number for Ingenta is around 275 publishers. PCG [consulting division within Ingenta] also has some 40 customers, while VISTA has approximately 60 publisher customers. I think in round numbers of about 350 publisher customers. IngentaConnect had experienced some losses, but last year, it added 40 new publishers, amounting to a net gain of about 30, after accounting for publisher consolidations. This year it's also going up. In the U.S., we are about to announce that The Charleston Advisor has chosen Ingenta. In the U.K., we've just signed the Manchester University Press for IngentaConnect, which is the third largest in the U.K.

There are several levels of library customers. We have 20,000 libraries that use the portal and others that buy a service like IngentaConnect Complete or Premium. The numbers are relatively stable, but this is an area we definitely want to improve. [See the sidebar for details of the first changes.] We plan to increase the effort and investment since we know it's slipped a little bit. The customer service has improved markedly over the years. Today, there is actually a session to plan the next 18 months in our library services area. IngentaConnect is being given several things to target: to sell to publishers in the U.S., to refocus and improve the library services side of the business, and to increase advertising. …

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