The Intersection of Technology, Leadership, and Business Strategy

Technology has not only driven product innovation in the educational resource industry; it has spurred changes in business frameworks. But while digital tools and efficiencies have provided opportunities for growth, they have also challenged leaders to continually rethink their organizational structures and how technology, processes, and personnel interact. At the 2015 CEO Roundtable Leadership During Disruption, Fran Toolan (Founder and President of Firebrand Technologies) will talk about how technology influences internal business strategy in the PreK-12 market. Below are highlights of his thoughts on the changing nature of the publishing industry.

On developing new distribution channels: “Those of us involved in the development and marketing of books still share that dedication to the publishing of long form narrative documents, but most of the larger players involved in the retail end of things do not. We are delivering widgets into a retail machine. So, the only way to mitigate this situation is to develop products and services that don’t sell through traditional retail machines. There are a few very smart folks out there in our traditional book industry that are doing amazing things with content and are increasingly deriving their revenues through different channels. They are paving some nice pathways for others to follow.” “Partner Voices: Firebrand CEO Fran Toolan on Helping Publishers Drive Ebook Sales,” BookBusiness (Nov. 16, 2014)

On managing outsourcing in the digital era: “Publishers can’t outsource QA; it’s their product. They need to make sure that they’re in charge of their product and that it goes out the door and has their signature on it. So they can’t outsource the QA of their products. Nor should they be outsourcing the QA of their metadata or anything else that’s related to that…That’s their business; that’s their calling card. They need to be owning that. But the mechanical side, the distribution of that, the connections with the partners, taking care of the mechanical things that sometimes breakdown…they are more mechanical, and they have a steep enough learning curve that publishers shouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.” “Publishers need broader and broader shoulders,” Fran Toolan interview with Joe Wikert, TOC (Nov. 16, 2011)

On the biggest problem facing publishers and the realities of selling online: "Publishers don't understand the role of the web. They understand that everyone is on it, but they are confused by all the virtual storefronts, and very confused about SEO, how to determine keywords, how does book industry metadata (BISAC) fit in. They don't have workflows around this. They don't have somebody on staff looking at Google AdWords for every title." “Fran Toolan (CEO), Firebrand [Bill] (major metadata management service for book publishers),” W3C (2014)

At the CEO Roundtable, an exclusive event for C-level executives in the learning resource industry, attendees will discuss leadership and business strategy in the education market. It will take place December 7 in New York. Find out more.

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