5 Questions with Ken Brooks, COO, Macmillan Learning

Ken Brooks, DBW, digital book world, macmillan learningKen Brooks is the chief operating officer of Macmillan Learning, and before that he was senior vice president of global supply chain management at Cengage Learning. Ken is also a recognized and proven expert in aligning operational execution for competitive advantage, and has been instrumental in driving industry standards.

Ken is a speaker at DBW 2017, where he will discuss how publishers can listen to their customers and focus on their content, rather than products.

We spoke to Ken about his session at DBW, what he believes the biggest issues in publishing are, and what he thinks publishing will look like 10 years down the line.

As COO of Macmillan Learning, you’re deeply embedded in the educational space. What do you believe are the biggest issues in this sector right now?

There are a few key issues: effectiveness of teaching and learning is at the forefront. Affordability is another area that we’re hearing from administrators, faculty and students that they’re also quite concerned about. Balancing the two makes for a worthy challenge.

And for publishing in general?

For publishing in general, one of the biggest opportunities is addressing the increasing diversity of interests and needs with appropriate, high-quality content, tools and services, and developing enticing products and services and then connecting the people that need them. The old products, channels and business models are fracturing at an increasing rate, so this will be an ongoing challenge for the future.

Looking, say, five years into the future, what issues do you think we’ll be dealing with?

I don’t think we’ll have stabilized, even 10 years into the future. So managing the evolution of sustainable business models will continue to be a focus.

You’re co-leading a session titled “How to Think Print + Platform + Products: It’s All About the Customer.” It’s a pretty straightforward title, but can you give us an overview of some of the issues you’re going to cover?

Success in educational publishing these days means delivering a learning experience across print and digital platforms. These offerings have to work together, but neither is—yet—fully self-sufficient. For example, you can’t deliver much of the adaptive assessment and interactive content in print, but students and professors in many disciplines prefer print for some uses. We’re going to focus on what the customer really wants and needs, and how to deliver hybrid offerings that satisfy those needs.

What made you want to be a part of DBW 2017?

DBW has become knows as a forum where many of the most innovative thinkers come to talk about their ideas with others. I wouldn’t miss it!

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