John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (JW.A) Betting on Technology to Fuel Growth in Service-Based and Solutions-Based Businesses

December 20, 2013

John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (NYSE: JW.A) has been hard at work digitizing their business since the end of the 1990s, but the focus today is on using technology to grow their service-based and solutions-based businesses. Currently those businesses represent 10% of revenue, but the company expects it to grow to 25% of revenue by 2017.

The areas that the publisher is focused on for future growth, according to Stephen Smith, President and CEO, are online learning — both in the formal four-year and two-year educational segment — and also corporate online learning. “There are big opportunities for us,” Smith says, “and we’ve made some acquisitions in that space and expect that we will continue to do more of that.”

A year ago, when Wiley acquired Deltak, an online program management provider, Deltak was doing about $54 million in revenue. “It’s on a trajectory now to grow 20% plus for the coming years,” says Smith. “We see the growth of Deltak as a major contributor to us moving from 10% to 25% of revenue from our solutions-based businesses.”


With Wiley’s base businesses somewhat growth-constrained, the company has identified technology-enabled training and talent assessment as a high-growth sector. “The continuum between online learning and talent management that we call the career arc of the professional is where we identify a number of places where we can play and add value; these are all areas of growth for the company,” says Smith.

The other principal growth area is around their research content. As a journal publisher, they have long-term publishing relationships with 800 learned societies. They see opportunities to build on those publishing relationships to provide societies with more of what they need, which is usually around how to interact and retain more members and to provide additional services to those members, such as continuing professional education and online learning.

This focus on technology-enabled learning will enter Wiley into a new competitive arena. The talent management space, says Smith, is a very fragmented industry, with a very large number of small players and very few big ones; “a company like Skillsoft would be a direct competitor,” says Smith. “When you think about an SAP (NYSE: SAP) or an IBM (NYSE: IBM), there is some overlap there but not really head-on competition in terms of strategy,” he adds.

The company is also using technology to make better internal customer decisions. They recently launched an internal center of excellence around digital analytics using tools from vendors like (NYSE: CRM) to be able to make better use of customer data to inform decisions around sales and marketing and product development. They are also launching an internal certification program for marketers and digital product managers around digital analytics to upgrade those skills across the organization, because they think those will be vital to their success in the years ahead.