Future Proof: How do you transform marketing in a 500-year-old business?

Sarah Ultsch from Oxford University Press discusses the transformation journey they are undertaking.
19 January 2020
Julie Kollman

Chief Research Officer, UK

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You don't get much more traditional than Oxford University Press: over 500 years old, its roots dating back to 1478 when the first book was published in Oxford and home to the renowned Oxford English Dictionary. Today the Press has 6000 employees, operates in 190 countries and 40 languages, and offers a huge range of products and services, from pre-school educational materials to scholarly works.

Sarah Ultsch, Director of marketing at OUP, tells Andrew and Julie how the organisation is transforming, and how marketing operations in particular are evolving, in a radically changing market. How do they ensure they are still relevant and serving their community of educators and learners for the next 500 years?

Sarah suggests that people and processes – the right skills, frameworks and culture – are the most important asset, but that applying the right technology, tools and data is key to servicing their changing customer. As people read less, are time poor, have higher expectations and consume more multimedia content, how can OUP serve up the right content (whether pedagogy, definition, article or chapter) at the right time on the user's preferred channel? And how can they organise themselves to ensure employees are engaged and coming up with great, scalable ideas? Like the University to which it belongs, OUP believes in the transformative power of education. So what are they learning as they bring marketing into the modern day?

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