Moving into the future - PRINT, DIGITAL OR SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN? - Pearson South Africa

Moving into the future - PRINT, DIGITAL OR SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN? - Pearson South Africa

 Moving into the future

PRINT,                                           THE YEAR
DIGITAL OR                                      THAT WAS
BUSINESS,                                            THE
TOMORROW                                          HUMAN

                                    Q1 | 2016
Moving into the future - PRINT, DIGITAL OR SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN? - Pearson South Africa

                                                               elcome to Pearson,
Executive producer                                             South Africa’s first ever
Zodwa Pakade                                                   internal magazine written
Editor                                                         especially for you. We
Ursula Ndhlovu
                                       thought we’d end off 2015 with an overview of
This publication was produced on       the different developments in each key business
behalf of Pearson by ITWeb.
                                       area as well as a peek into the various business
ITWeb                                  units’ plans to attain their objectives for the
Publisher                              year to come.
Jovan Regasek                             Within the pages of this publication, Pearson
Editorial director                     South Africa CEO Riaan Jonck talks about the
Ranka Jovanovic
                                       group successes of 2015 and the great strides
Project editor
                                       that Pearson South Africa intends to make
Alison Job
                                       in 2016. As the way that people consume
Contributing writers
Alison Job, Chana Boucher,             information evolves, Pearson keeps pace by
Joanne Carew, James Francis,           constantly updating the way that we deliver
Lesley Stones, Monique Verduyn
                                       knowledge to learners. Our striving to remain
Copy editor
Patricia Czakan                        at the forefront of trends assures Pearson’s
                                       position as a leading education provider in
Infiltrate Media                       South Africa, and indeed the world.
Cover design		                            We take a look at the trends and insights
Zack Hoosen                            that Pearson is seeing on the frontline of
Photography 		                         Learning Services, and how these are being
Karolina Komendera, Sean Wilson
                                       implemented in learning materials as well as
Sales director
Robert Mace
                                       within the company itself.                         The article about Human Resources at
Business development director: Print   Pearson South Africa outlines the changes that
Caryn Berman                           the company has undergone over the past year
                                       and how the restructuring is for the ultimate
Production manager
Sindiso Khupe                          good of the business.
Digital development                       There’s also discussion around the
Marko Belic, Ana Golijanin,            #feesmustfall campaign and the impact that
Nebosja Knezevic, Stevan Srdic,
Nenad Marjanovic
                                       it had on the MGI and CTI campuses. The
                                       campaign resulted in a rethink about how fees         All of the above hinge off Sales, and the past year
Subscription manager
Carrie-Ann Waldeck                     would be structured for 2016, and this article      has seen increasing focus on customer satisfaction,                     explains the thinking behind this.                  key to which is ongoing interaction with customers
                                          We move on to take a look at the policy          to establish exactly what they want and need. Our
Published by ITWeb limited                        space that Pearson South Africa operated            success over the past year is testimony to the
326 Rivonia Boulevard, Rivonia, 2128
                                       in during 2015, and the role that Corporate         success of this strategy, which is expected to stand
PO Box 2785, Rivonia, 2128             Affairs played in addressing the key issues         Sales in good stead into 2016.
Tel: +27 (0) 11 807-3294               that arose. There’s also discussion around the        We’ve also dedicated six pages to Seen on the
Fax: +27 (0) 11 807-2020
                                       impact that these had on our customers and          scene, a social section. This is largely a visual feature
Printing                               partners, and how this was managed.                 with photographic and brief editorial coverage of
Paarl Media Paarl                         The past year was a difficult one financially    key Pearson events, showing our colleagues at their
                                       for Pearson South Africa, but the Finance and       best and having fun. Also featuring colleagues is In
Copyright © 2015 by Pearson. All
rights reserved. No part of this
                                       Operations business unit implemented cost           the spotlight, which profiles several Pearson South
publication may be reproduced or       streamlining measures that bode well for the        Africa employees and tells readers a little bit more
distributed in any form or by any      company in 2016.                                    about them and their lives.
means, or stored in a database
or retrieval system, without the          Technology is core to everything that              We hope that you enjoy reading about our
prior written permission of the        Pearson does, and the Technology business           company.
published. Opinions expressed in
this publication are not necessarily   saw 2015 as a watershed year, with great things
those of the editors or publishers.    to come in 2016 that will enable even better        Ursula Ndhlovu
                                       delivery of content to learners.                    Editor

                                                                                                                                          Pearson 2016 1
Moving into the future - PRINT, DIGITAL OR SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN? - Pearson South Africa
                 THE YEAR THAT WAS
                 The way that society consumes
                 information is steadily changing
           from printed materials to electronic, and
           Pearson is also continually evolving.
           By Lesley Stones

                 PRINT, DIGITAL OR
                 SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN?
                 The delivery of education materials
           is caught in a gap between the physical
           and the virtual worlds.
           By Lesley Stones

                THE HUMAN FACTOR
                It’s often said that a business is only
                as good as its people, so for the
           company to move forward this vital asset
           needs to be managed properly. Enter
           Human Resources.
           By Chana Boucher

                       A YEAR OF LANDMARKS
                       AND LESSONS
                       National strikes that recently
           disrupted universities across the country
           had little impact on the higher education
           institutes run by Pearson South Africa.
           By Lesley Stones
Moving into the future - PRINT, DIGITAL OR SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN? - Pearson South Africa
12                                         20
         TODAY’S BUSINESS,                             IN THE SPOTLIGHT
         TOMORROW                                      Pearson South Africa asks
         The only thing that is                        some of its staffers five
constant, is change.                       simple questions.
By Alison Job

14                                         22
          HIGHS AND LOWS AND                          COMPETITION PAGE
          2016                                        Enter our competition
          It’s been a difficult year for              and win an exciting prize
Pearson, but ongoing cost reduction        sponsored by Vodacom.
and operational streamlining bode
well for the future.
By Monique Verduyn

16                                         23
         A TECHNOLOGY                                   SOCIAL SCENE
         WATERSHED                                      A visual representation
         2015 had its share of victories                of some of the events
and challenges, yet the year may also      attended by Pearson South Africa
be a watershed in the company’s            over the past year.
technology-powered future.
By James Francis

          PAYS OFF
          Creating customer value,
satisfaction and loyalty is central to a
solid sales strategy.
By Monique Verduyn
Moving into the future - PRINT, DIGITAL OR SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN? - Pearson South Africa
GROUP OVERVIEW              Photography by Sean Wilson

                                                                                               he past year has been a
                                                         Riaan Jonck, chief
                                                         executive officer,                    challenging one with a
                                                         Pearson South Africa                  slow-down in K12 orders at
                                                                                               a provincial level, according
                                                                                to Riaan Jonck, CEO of Pearson South
                                                                                Africa. “We have, however, made
                                                                                significant strides in getting closer to the
                                                                                provinces and understanding the causes
                                                                                of this slowdown. The mooted one-
                                                                                textbook policy led to a reluctance in
                                                                                provinces putting in top-up orders and
                                                                                instead settling outstanding debt and
                                                                                moving budgets into teacher salaries.
                                                                                   “Even in this tough market
                                                                                environment, our market share has
                                                                                remained constant and we retained our
                                                                                market leader position.”

                                                                                A DIGITAL STRATEGY
                                                                                Pearson South Africa’s digital strategy
                                                                                was firmly cemented by several projects
                                                                                in 2015. Every government-approved
                                                                                textbook that Pearson South Africa
                                                                                prints is now available digitally. They are
                                                                                device-agnostic and can be used on any
                                                                                platform. They also have embedded
                                                                                features to make the content far richer.
                                                                                Science books, for example, have videos
                                                                                embedded to show the results of mixing
                                                                                chemicals together, or a 3D image of the
                                                                                heart so students can zoom in and follow
                                                                                the blood vessels.
                                                                                   Since maths, science and English
                                                                                literacy are the core subjects that

       THE YEAR
                                                                                prepare students for their entire lives,
                                                                                Pearson South Africa is focusing on
                                                                                that content first. Its Learning Services

       THAT WAS
                                                                                Business introduced the Vuma Literacy
                                                                                Project in 2015, designed to get students
                                                                                literate in their own language before
                                                                                they transition to English. The books
                                                                                are aimed at grades 1-5, to catch young
       The way that society consumes information                                brains early, and are available in print
                                                                                or in digital format for those schools
       is steadily changing from printed materials to                           equipped to use them.
       electronic, and Pearson is also continually evolving.                       Vuma books come in English, Zulu
                                                                                and Xhosa, and all 11 official languages
       Written by Lesley Stones                                                 will be covered, most of them within
                                                                                three years.

4 Pearson 2015
Moving into the future - PRINT, DIGITAL OR SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN? - Pearson South Africa
ASSESSING KNOWLEDGE                                too late to intervene with extra tuition.          in which the organisation could improve
Another development in 2015 was                       Proof of concept trials for Pulse in some       their experience. The list mainly covered
Pearson’s Test and Improve Programme.              Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal schools have             softer issues such as requesting sporting
This focuses on maths and uses flash               shown encouraging results, and Pearson is          fixtures with public universities, so that is
cards to test whether a pupil’s knowledge          working with the Department of Education           being arranged.
is up to the required standard for their           to develop a national strategy to roll it out to
grade. Intervention material to boost              any school with the facilities to handle it.       LOOKING FORWARD
their skills is available if the tests highlight                                                      “We’ll intensify our execution of the B-BBEE
any specific weaknesses.                           IMPROVED LEARNER OUTCOMES                          strategy as the Amended Codes of Good
   The tests are being introduced for grades       To prove that digital learning works, 2015         Practice are introduced,” says Jonck. “This
3-4 first, when most children start learning       saw every student who enrolled at a                will drive the necessary transformation
maths in English, which probably isn’t their       Pearson Higher Education campus receive all        across the business. We are further excited
first language. “That’s a hurdle, so this is       their books pre-loaded onto a tablet. They         about the Brand project that kicks off
a committed effort to make sure literacy,          can submit assignments electronically and          globally on 4 January 2016.
maths and science are seen as a package of         receive feedback online from their lecturers.         “As Pearson makes the shift to becoming
problems that we can address.” Test and               The method isn’t only boosting student          a full service education company, we’ll be
Improve trials have been run in Gauteng, the       outcomes, it’s also providing an excellent         adjusting our structure and focus locally to
Free State and Kwazulu-Natal, and pupils           platform to show what Pearson is
have shown impressive improvements in              managing to achieve, in the hope that it will
their understanding of maths.                      help strengthen government support for
                                                   digital schools.
DELIVERING CONTENT                                    “We have taken government officials to           “Even in this
Educational material is no longer only about       our Midrand campus and shown them how
the actual content, but about how it is            it works, saying this is the improvement we         tough market
presented to the learner, Jonck says. “We          have seen since the print model and this
have started making sure content is piped to       is how we can make it work in schools,”             environment,
the learner in the most successful manner by       Jonck says.
putting it into Pulse, a Learner Management           The biggest hurdle is the cost of digital        our market share
System that has been developed globally.”          devices, and Pearson is engaging with the
Pulse will be launched in early 2016 after         Department of Education to find a workable          has remained
intensive development work in 2015.                solution. “We want to show that the benefit
    “It’s a framework that we hang all the         of investing in digital far outweighs the costs     constant.”
pieces on to complete the picture. The             of equipping the schools because of its
content is given in bite-sized chunks that         capabilities, and we want the government to         Riaan Jonck, Pearson South Africa
the students engage with before they               know it’s money well spent,” Jonck says.
move on to the next piece. Then Test
and Improve makes sure they understand             ADDRESSING FEES CONCERNS
it, and a teacher training part sits behind        In Pearson’s higher education campuses,            reflect this. As we build the LMS for the
it to make sure teachers are capable of            the #FeesMustFall campaign had no                  DBE alongside Telkom, this opens up a
delivering in the digital world. It’s not chalk    major impact, although two positive                strategic channel for Pearson with significant
and talk, it’s a facilitated classroom into a      outcomes were achieved. Firstly, Pearson           opportunities for our business. In the Direct
digital world,” Jonck says. “Learners sit with     introduced a scheme to guarantee                   Delivery environment, we’ve begun the
a tablet, a laptop or a PC and engage with         returning students a place next year at            work to optimise our campuses and ensure
much richer content that they can interact         the same price as the current year if they         that we provide the best learning experience
with and take tests.”                              pay an R800 deposit. That will allow them          for our students and continue to grow.
    One of the best features is that the           to do a three-year course for the same                “I’m really proud of our performance in
interactive material shows how far a student       price as their entry year. Meetings with           the Growth Awards, and congratulate all
is along the learning journey more effectively     student representative councils also saw           the people and teams nominated, as well
than traditional end-of-term tests, when it’s      Pearson ask the students to suggest ways           as our winners.”

                                                                                                                                            Pearson 2015 5
Moving into the future - PRINT, DIGITAL OR SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN? - Pearson South Africa
LEARNING SERVICES                  Photography by Sean Wilson

                                                                                                                One exciting development is an
                                                                                                            extensive trial conducted in Kwazulu-Natal,
                                                                                                            where Pearson South Africa has supplied
                                                                                                            tablets pre-loaded with electronic content
                                                                                                            to rural and urban schools.
                                                                                                                “We divided learners into groups for
                                                                                                            e-learning and groups that remained in

                                                                                                            the print environment. We tested them
                                                                                                            at the beginning, before we launched the
                                                                                                            e-learning products and plotted their

       OR SOMEWHERE                                                                                         progress. Because we isolated them from
                                                                                                            other learners, we can definitely attribute

                                                                                                            all the progress to the interventions we are
                                                                                                            making,” says Wafawarowa.
                                                                                                                Reports analysing the results will help to
                                                                                                            guide the shape of Pearson’s future efforts
                                                                                                            to drive e-learning.

       The delivery of education materials is caught in a                                                   DOES E-LEARNING EQUAL SMARTER
       gap between the physical and the virtual worlds.                                                     Wafawarowa is confident the results
                                                                                                            will prove a direct correlation between
       Written by Lesley Stones
                                                                                                            e-learning and better learner outcomes,
                                                                                                            especially in the vital subjects of maths,
                                                                                                            science and English.

                                                                                                               Many institutes are asking to see the
                      he old world of printed               environment and see how it responds.”           report to assess whether there is evidence
                      textbooks is full of inherent            Wafawarowa says Pearson is ahead of          that e-learning produces smarter students.
                      flaws that digital content can        the curve in understanding what e-learning      That isn’t always the case, even in more
                      address, but the shift in mindset     should look like, but is held back because      advanced countries, because e-learning
       and the skills and equipment needed to               the market isn’t ready. It has developed a      often describes something as simple a book
       capitalise on the opportunities are not yet          Pearson Basket of Services, and can pick        in PDF format that you read on a screen,
       widespread enough to drive the change.               out components according to the clients’        without the interactive supporting features
          Pearson’s Learning Services division is           needs, he says. Textbooks converted into        Pearson is developing.
       working to lead that evolution. But it will          electronic format are only a tiny part of the      “We came up with assessment solutions,
       take time, and meanwhile, the limbo has hit          basket, since the true value lies in adding     progress management tools and content
       the division’s performance and necessitated          previously impossible content and services.     and administration modules, and we also
       some structural changes of its own.                  They include learner management systems         learned that the needs are different for
                                                            that allow learners to complete activities      different organisations,” Wafawarowa
       A DIGITAL JOURNEY                                    and get instant feedback. Teachers can          says. “The tests confirm that the type of
       The main plan for 2016 is to continue to             immediately see how each learner is faring      learning we’ve been implementing has
       champion the shift from print into digital           by their response to different questions.       improved learner outcomes.” The trials
       content, and to provide the right materials,            The system can check individual progress     also transformed some previously reluctant
       says Brian Wafawarowa, Pearson South                 against where a learner should be in the        teachers into champions of e-learning.
       Africa’s executive director of Learning              curriculum, and come up with remedial              The experiment was equally valuable
       Services. “We’re on a digital journey and            interventions to move lagging learners back     for Learner Solutions, by giving its staff
       our definitive products – our interactive            on track.                                       practical experience with real kids and real
       resources – are ready to go to market. Our              For schools with erratic bandwidth and       teachers in varied conditions. “We wanted
       assessment tools and learner management              electricity, content can be preloaded on        to find out if what we’re doing and what
       systems are ready, and next year we’ll take          laptops or other mobile devices so learning     we believe in does indeed enhance learner
       the full e-learning system into the education        can still take place when there is no power.    outcomes. We used independent assessors,

6 Pearson 2015
Moving into the future - PRINT, DIGITAL OR SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN? - Pearson South Africa
and if the results come out positive, we’ll           Brian Wafawarowa,
                                                      executive director:
stick to our model of implementation and              Learning Services,
                                                      Pearson South Africa
advise our clients to take it up. If there
are areas where things didn’t go as well as
we thought, we’ll review those areas to
improve the model.”
   In 2016, the content and learner
management systems will be launched
into the market, more learning material
prototypes will be turned into saleable
products and new prototypes will be
developed. That costs a lot of money, and
before the tests, it was largely based on
assuming what people need and investing
heavily to create it.

But Pearson’s readiness to tackle a market
that is moving very slowly has taken its toll.
“One challenge we have faced is lower
than expected expenditure in the school
environment, where money allocated for
the acquisition of teaching materials wasn’t
spent in quite a lot of provinces. Our sales
are down substantially,” Wafawarowa
says. “We’re maintaining market share and
even growing it, but doing so in a shrinking
    The key need is to convince the state
that printed materials can no longer solve
our schooling problems, but that investing
in digital content would help to resolve
many of the long-standing issues, instead
of patching the problems with yesterday’s
    Meanwhile, Learning Services is reviewing
its own infrastructure and operations.
“Once this change takes place, it calls for
a rethink of the way we do business. We
have had an idea for a long time of what         “We’re on a digital journey and
that model will look like and we have tried
to reach it without any direct interventions,    our definitive products – our
but by evolving towards that.”
    He doesn’t expect retrenchments, but         interactive resources – are
if people leave jobs that are no longer
relevant in a digital future, they are not       ready to go to market.”
replaced. “We’re trying to take advantage
                                                 Brian Wafawarowa, Pearson South Africa
of the advent of the digital era to have
another look at how our teams operate.
We hope to slip into it rather than be
trimmed into it,” he says.

                                                                                          Pearson 2015 7
Moving into the future - PRINT, DIGITAL OR SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN? - Pearson South Africa
HR   Photography by Sean Wilson

                                                  Alice Bhebhe,                        hange is never easy for an
                                                  executive director:
                                                  Human Resources,                     organisation’s employees, but
                                                  Pearson South Africa
                                                                                       change they must at Pearson
                                                                                       as the South African arm
                                                                         moves to align its systems and processes
                                                                         with its international counterparts.
                                                                             Alice Bhebhe, executive director of
                                                                         Human Resources at Pearson South
                                                                         Africa, looks to 2016 as the year in which
                                                                         the company will successfully make the
                                                                         transition. “Our division achieved its main
                                                                         goals in 2015, which included supporting
                                                                         the simplification of the company’s
                                                                         processes, aligning the value proposition
                                                                         as an employee and contributing towards
                                                                         to growth of the company,” she says.
                                                                             Further, Bhebhe explains that 2015
                                                                         has seen Pearson South African aligning
                                                                         itself with global practices to ensure that
                                                                         all employees get the same experience
                                                                         across the globe. This has included
                                                                         cleaning up employee data, revisiting and
                                                                         refining workflows and aligning the direct-
                                                                         delivery side of the business to the rest of
                                                                         the company.
                                                                             The HR division has been working
                                                                         furiously to introduce two new systems,
                                                                         Taleo and Fusion, which will be rolled
                                                                         out soon and are expected to streamline
                                                                         most practices. According to Bhebhe,
                                                                         Taleo is an online global recruitment
                                                                         system that will not only streamline the
                                                                         recruitment process, but also help manage
                                                                         people data better.

       THE HUMAN                                                         WORK IN PROGRESS
                                                                         Some of the other highlights Bhebhe

                                                                         mentions from the past year include
                                                                         reviewing the culture and values within the
                                                                         company. She says diversity workshops,
                                                                         which proved to be a benefit in bringing
                                                                         together employees across business areas
       It’s often said a business is only as good as its                 and backgrounds, were held to reinforce
       people, so for the company to move forward                        the business’ culture of embracing diversity.
                                                                            Another important area of development
       this vital asset needs to be managed properly.                    has been organisational restructuring to
       Enter Human Resources.                                            allow for transformation and ultimately
                                                                         company growth. In the process,
       Written by Chana Boucher
                                                                         Bhebhe says new ways of working were
                                                                         introduced. “Change management was key
                                                                         as we moved into the matrix structure and

8 Pearson 2015
Moving into the future - PRINT, DIGITAL OR SOMEWHERE INBETWEEN? - Pearson South Africa

     Taleo, the global system of choice            vacancies throughout Pearson.                reports and dashboards from a single
     for Pearson, will change the way            • It gives the recruiter one source            source. It will provide:
     recruitment is managed. Not only does         of candidate information, process            • A self-service, online approach to
     it expose South African employees             status and approvals, meaning                  managing personal information.
     to the global recruitment procedure,          increased efficiency as well as ease         • An HR information tool for
     but it also drives accountability, a key      of reporting and decision-making.              employee life-cycle transactions
     value at Pearson. Taleo is part of the      • Senior leadership benefits from                and information reporting,
     Oracle suite of products and is used          improved data accuracy and                     including transparent job profiles
     by thousands of companies around the          enhanced reporting to drive                    and grades for individuals, a new
     world. So, what does it do?                   informed decision-making. Taleo also           induction experience and absence
     • The hiring manager will have greater        significantly improves the tracking of         management.
        control of the recruitment process         all pre-employment checks.                   • Leave requests for employees.
        and possibly additional support from                                                    • A leave reporting system for line
        Pearson People Services.                   Meanwhile, the HR information                  managers to help with workforce
     • Employees will be able to view            system, Fusion, will offer HR data,              planning.

streamlined processes.”
    With people development and                         “We will continue to enable
learning being a huge focus for Pearson,
it’s no surprise that Human Resources                   the growth of the company,
devoted significant attention in this area.
According to Bhebhe, broad-based black                  transforming the ways we
economic empowerment is another of
her division’s priorities and influences                work to achieve results.”
the development plans to ensure they
                                                        Alice Bhebhe, Pearson South Africa
support what the company needs to
achieve to be sustainable. Furthermore,
HR also encouraged all Pearson employees
to engage in the learning opportunities
afforded to them. “I have been highly           transforming the ways we work to                 is pooled into One Pearson. But she
impressed with the learning culture.            achieve results. This is something that          admits that it is not always easy to move
The uptake to the learning interventions        never comes to an end. We will also              from one way of working to another.
offered has been amazing,” says Bhebhe.         continue to streamline processes, make           “We need to work smarter so we can
    This year has largely been about            information readily available for decision-      lessen the stress. We need to work in
aligning Pearson South Africa’s structures      making and build a diverse culture that          an efficient way, so we will continue to
to the business strategy for growth,            promotes inclusivity,” says Bhebhe.              make improvements to enhance our
while 2016 will be about implementation                                                          efficiencies,” says Bhebhe.
and the continuation of successful              DOING IT RIGHT                                      She urges all staff members to
projects. Aside from the rolling out of         For Bhebhe, the role of HR is to enable the      understand that the changes are
Taleo and the new HR system, Fusion,            right people in the right place and create an    happening for the right reason: so that
the division will keep pushing successful       environment that is conducive for them to        Pearson continues to be number one. “I
initiatives. These include aligning career      thrive as human beings, not workers. “It’s       believe we’ve got the best people and we
frameworks across the business, driving         not just about business, it extends to the       appreciate the work that is being done
the online integrated performance and           bigger context,” she adds.                       and the long hours put in to help us get to
reward programme and the delivery of               Her hopes for the year ahead are to           where we want to be. We need all hands
accredited training. “We will continue          start seeing the processes and ways of           on deck to transform the organisation,”
to enable the growth of the company,            working being embedded as the business           concludes Bhebhe.

                                                                                                                                    Pearson 2015 9
EDUCATION          Photography by Sean Wilson

                                                                              Mark Cunnington,
                                                                              executive director:
                                                                              Direct Delivery (MGI
                                                                              and CTI), Pearson
                                                                              South Africa

       A YEAR OF

       National strikes that                                            hile some students             MGI and CTI fees are slightly higher than
                                                                        expressed                    regular universities, but with no government
       recently disrupted                                               solidarity with              grants to support its students or any
       universities across                                              the #feesmustfall            funding for the centres themselves, Pearson
                                                campaign, no lectures or exams at the                must innovate to remain affordable.
       the country had little                   13 MGI and CTI campuses were derailed
       impact on the higher                     by the national discontent.                          SUPPORTING STUDENTS
       education institutes                        Pearson South Africa runs its higher              Pearson South Africa offers financial
                                                education centres on five principles, of             schemes through scholarships based
       run by Pearson South                     which affordability is one, says Direct              on academic merit, assistance with loan
       Africa.                                  Delivery executive director Mark                     applications and deferred payment schemes
                                                Cunnington. The heads of campus met the              where students who are close to graduating
       Written by Lesley Stones
                                                student representative council during the            can pay a small monthly fee and pay the
                                                #feesmustfall campaign, and agreed that              bulk of their fees once they have a job. In
                                                students can study next year for the same            2015, 600 students took that opportunity.
                                                fee as 2015 if they re-register by the end of        Those schemes and scholarships help to
                                                December and pay an R800 deposit. About              ensure that more students can afford to
                                                three quarters of its students have already          enrol and complete their studies.
                                                taken that option to avoid a fee increase.              The students are aware that CTI and
                                                   Those who don’t re-register in                    MGI aren’t publicly funded so they expect
                                                advance will pay a fee that will increase            a high level of service delivery and are
                                                slightly, although below the inflation rate,         prepared to pay for it. Cunnington says,
                                                while fees for new students will rise in             “They’ve made their choice of where to
                                                line with inflation.                                 study and we hope it’s because of the

10 Pearson 2015
courses and the environment we provide.”        also quite challenging, Cunnington says.     country to deliver people who are well
    Students at state-run universities may      He would recommend that any other            qualified and highly employable.
be one of 600 people in a lecture hall,         division planning large changes should
but MGI and CTI classes rarely exceed           focus on executing a small number            CAREER DEVELOPMENT
40 to 50. That has probably helped              of critical projects exceptionally well,     In the coming year, the core strategy
to protect it against disruptions by            rather than over-stressing the staff and     will remain focused on the five pillars
dissatisfied students who feel they are         the business with too many competing         of accessibility, affordability, technology,
paying too much for too little.                 projects at once. “Trying to do them all     employability and academic qualifications.
    “You get a very different, more             within six months was too much and we           One exciting step will be opening
personalised learning environment with          made some mistakes along the way, and        seven Employability Centres to support
plenty of attention in the classroom and        that can impact normal operations. Be        the employability goal. These centres
campus, which differentiates us from public-    very clear about the impact of some of       will be staffed by career advisors and
funded universities,” Cunnington says.          those big undertakings and give yourself     equipped with physical and virtual
    He believes government could potentially    time to execute them brilliantly.”           resources to help people with their
offer cheaper education because it has the         The changes were all necessary            career decisions and skills development.
money in its budget, but chooses to spend       because research among the students             Another project is to roll out a national
it on other things. South Africa invests very   raised flags that some of the previous       student academic induction programme
little on higher education compared to          ways of engaging with them were no           across all its campuses. Each campus
other African countries, although it spends     longer adequate. “You have to start          has previously been left to design its
the most per capita on education as a           responding to those things if you want       own academic induction programme,
whole. That money is going into schools,        to build customer loyalty and retention.     but the student support team has now
yet the poor results do not reflect much        We had to respond, but in hindsight,         devised a uniform two-week induction
return on investment.                           perhaps we didn’t have to do it as quickly   programme. “We’ve structured it to

During the past year, the MGI and
CTI operations underwent several
transformations that were all necessary
but which, in hindsight, should have been       “You get a very different, more
better phased, Cunnington says. The
changes came after research into the            personalised learning environment,
student lifecycle to see how processes
could be improved.                              with high attention in the classroom
   Its sales and business development
divisions were transformed and the              and campus, which differentiates us
incentive and remuneration structures
changed for 300 people.                         from publicly funded universities.”
   A customer relationship management           Mark Cunnington, Pearson South Africa
system was installed, and the call centre
outsourced to a national expert to raise the
quality of engagement with students.
   To help attract and retain students,
a series of entertaining events was             as we attempted. The critical thing is we    give our students the best possible
organised for existing and potential            did respond to our student needs and         introduction, because entering a higher
students and their sponsors. The                are laying foundations for an exceptional    education environment can be a very
organisation also stepped up its social         student experience.”                         daunting process,” Cunnington says.
media presence, which has led to a                 The institutes want to retain                In the longer term, the campuses are
significant increase in the number              students until they complete their           also working towards being rebranded
of potential students requesting                qualifications, because that’s good for      as the Pearson Institute of Higher
information.                                    revenue and cheaper than attracting          Education, due for completion for the
   Those projects were all successful but       new students. It’s also good for the         2017 academic year.

                                                                                                                                Pearson 2015 11
CORPORATE AFFAIRS                 Photography by Karolina Komendera

                                                                                                         education market, we’ve been able to evolve
                                                                                                         our strategy even ahead of government
                                                                                                         policy. Our Learning Services teams have
                                                                                                         created products and assets that we’re able
                                                                                                         to introduce into the education market.

       TODAY’S BUSINESS,                                                                                 In addition, we’re relieved that the one-
                                                                                                         textbook policy has not come into full swing,

                                                                                                         and, in the meantime, we’re preparing for
                                                                                                         such an eventuality.”
                                                                                                            The one book per subject, per grade, per
                                                                                                         language would have meant that pupils across
                                                                                                         South Africa would use the same textbook
       The only thing that is                            its stakeholders, such as government,           and study material.
                                                         parents, learners, teachers, partners and
       constant, is change.                              the community, on why Pearson has been            The key pillars for Pearson South Africa’s
                                                         a leading education brand for so many           Corporate Affairs team include:
       Written by Alison Job
                                                         years. This has been achieved in part by        • Creating and managing stakeholder value
                                                         building solid relationships and by a 200       • Driving sustainable business growth

                                                         percent increase in quality public relations,   • Positioning Pearson as a good corporate
                      he past year has seen              says Pakade. “Teams across Pearson South          citizen through its Social Impact
                      many changes at Pearson            Africa have been positioned as subject          • Positioning Pearson as a trusted education
                      South Africa, ranging from         matter experts with quality opinion               partner
                      partnerships to policy. Zodwa      pieces into the mainstream media and the        • Embedding a culture of digital across the
       Pakade, executive director of Corporate           education sector.”                                organisation.
       Affairs at Pearson South Africa, says one
       of the biggest highlights has been setting        CHANGING LIVES                                  TALKING ABOUT PEARSON
       up and building strategic partnerships with       “The focus on broad-based black economic        While marketing campaigns and advertising
       key partners in government, state-owned           empowerment, with clear targets per             are often important to raise awareness
       enterprises, private sector and institutions      element, has resulted in an improvement         with customers, in a market where the
       of learning. “We’re aware that as we              from a B-BBEE Level 8 to an impressive          sales environment is business-to-business,
       progress our strategy, we won’t be able to        Level 5 in 2015 for the Learning Services       there’s a need to build strong and strategic
       grow on our own, so partnerships are key,”        business,” says Pakade. “As we conclude         relationships both before and after the
       says Pakade.                                      Project Progress for MGI and CTI,               customer has signed a deal.
          In many cases, Pearson South Africa            this programme will accelerate in that             “It’s key for us to understand intimately
       has made the transition from a supplier of        environment and will ensure strategic           our customers’ challenges and strategies,
       textbooks looking for orders and payments,        growth over time.”                              and build a roadmap with them to deliver on
       to a partner in building policy and executing         The B-BBEE programme has enabled            their vision. This means that our relationship
       quality for the education system. Pakade          Pearson South Africa to look both internally    with the Sales and Learning Services teams
       adds, “We set out to position Pearson as a        and externally at the business, and put plans   cannot be separated. Building these customer
       trusted partner in education, and I believe       in plans to ensure it transforms the lives of   relationships takes time, and we cannot
       we’ve done that in a very real sense.             all South Africans that are within its ambit.   afford to ‘speak at’ them or short-circuit
          “From a strategy perspective, we’ve            “Government and state-owned enterprises         relationship-building because of our own
       been able to work out clear business              are doing business with companies at a Level    sales timeline,” says Pakade. “As a trusted
       models for our emerging strategy pillars.         4 and better, and we need to ensure we are      partner, we’re creating longer term, stickier
       We’ve responded to the slow-down in               reaching these levels,” she says.               managed services deals, instead of beginning
       K12 orders by getting engaged at strategic                                                        each year at zero.”
       levels in the provinces to understand the         SHAPING FORCES
       nuances in each environment.”                     Pakade explains that the aim of Corporate       BRAND VALUE
          Over the past year, Pearson South Africa       Affairs is to shape, support and enable         “We’ve spent the past 24-36 months
       has managed to solidify its leadership            the Pearson strategy in South Africa. She       building a One Pearson brand,” says Pakade.
       position in education and has educated            says, “With Pearson’s experience in the         “We’ve revamped Neo and are looking

12 Pearson 2015
Zodwa Pakade,               "I'm especially excited and
                          executive director:
                          Corporate Affairs,          thankful that we've signed
                          Pearson South Africa        a contract with Telkom
                                                      to deliver the Learner
                                                      Management System for the
forward to more employees sharing their               Department of Education
experiences through blogs and updates.                (DBE)," says Pearson South
We’ve relaunched the Pearson South                    Africa's Zodwa Pakade.
Africa website. As we participate in key              "This is a really significant
industry events, we’re ensuring that our              achievement for Corporate
Sales, Learning Services, Innovation and              Affairs and Pearson, as it
Technology teams have the ability to                  gives us first entry into the
articulate the value propositions we’ve               main channel for digital
developed together and drive customer-                education. It's been a
centric solutions and engagements.”                   journey that has taught us
   Going forward into 2016, priority will be          the value of building solid
given to the relaunch of the Pearson brand            relationships and shared
in South Africa. Pakade clarifies, “We know           value, instead of chasing
that we currently have low brand awareness,           quick wins. I'm looking
especially in the sectors where we want               forward to engaging further
to grow. We’re still seen as a traditional            with the DBE, provinces
publisher and we need to build our brand              and other potential partners
as a provider of digital education and other          on the up-sell opportunity
services such as testing and teacher training.        for content, assessments,
   “We’re also excited about rebranding               teacher training and change
MGI and CTI under the Pearson banner.                 management."
To this end, employee engagement is
key, as is the creation of 1 700 Pearson
South Africa ambassadors. We have a
responsibility to remain true to our brand
promise and values.”

                                                        “It’s key for us to understand
The Department of Trade and Industry

                                                        intimately our customers’
has published the Amended Codes of
Good Practice, and Pearson South Africa

                                                        challenges and strategies, and build
is aware that it needs to be fully compliant,
while also driving full transformation for the

                                                        a roadmap with them to deliver
business. “We’ve put plans in place to ensure
that this transformation becomes the way

                                                        on their vision.” Zodwa Pakade, Pearson South Africa
we do business, not only to get a B-BBEE
certificate with which to trade. Social Impact
is a key focus that is integrated in the B-BBEE
programme and we’re keen to see the
results of the programmes in flight and how
we expand these over time,” says Pakade.             Pakade’s division is currently under-          Finally, advocacy, public relations and
    “All of our employees participate             resourced and she says that a key focus        external communication will continue to
with enthusiasm in our volunteerism               will be to ensure Corporate Affairs has the    drive Corporate Affairs’ function, especially
programmes. However, we’ve needed to be           right calibre of talent to take its strategy   as Pearson South Africa transitions into new
more focused with Social Impact, ensuring         forward and take responsibility for            market spaces. “We’ve completed a digital
we don’t invest in programmes that will have      Pearson’s market performance alongside         strategy to support the communication
little relevance for our local communities.       its sister-portfolios. She says, “We’ve been   and marketing strategies, and I have no
So we’re training districts with PMET, we’re      in opening and closing keynote addresses       doubt that this will enable improved
training unemployed graduates, we’re              of all key industry platforms, talking         communication between colleagues, with
developing literacy programmes and many           education and e-learning, and we expect        more conversational engagement rather
more initiatives.”                                to build on this.”                             than broadcast,” concludes Pakade.

                                                                                                                                     Pearson 2015 13
FINANCE AND OPERATIONS                            Photography by Sean Wilson

                                                                                                                                       Mike Ogden,
                                                                                                                                       executive director:
                                                                                                                                       Operations and
                                                                                                                                       Finance, Pearson
                                                                                                                                       South Africa

       AND 2016
       It’s a been a difficult year
       for Pearson, but ongoing
       cost reduction and
       operational streamlining
       bode well for the future.
       Written by Monique Verduyn

                        he past year has been a tough       HIGHLIGHTS AND CHALLENGES                            On the direct delivery side of the
                        one to weather, with the            The nine provinces, Pearson South Africa’s        business, the company has had to deal with
                        country coming alarmingly           major customers, are unpredictable and the        a drop in student numbers – from 13 000
                        close to losing its place as the    playing field continues to change from year       in 2012 to potentially just more than 10 000
       second-biggest economy in Africa behind              to year. The proposed single textbook plan        in 2016. There are many reasons for the
       Nigeria. It’s predicted that South Africa’s          for all schools nationally is just one example.   reduced numbers, the greatest being the
       GDP output for 2015 could slip to $317                  “Looking ahead, it’s likely that many          lack of funding available to potential students
       billion, with GDP growth expected to be              provinces will not be spending anything close     in order for them to enter the higher
       around 1.5 percent. At the same time,                to what they have in the previous financial       education space.
       the economy has been battered by major               year, even if the company receives late              In addition, the rollout of a new business
       fluctuations in the exchange rate, with the          orders before the year comes to an end,”          development model, the late introduction of
       rand hitting all-time lows against the US            says Ogden. “Likewise, our results from           a sales commission scheme, and the launch
       dollar and Sterling in recent months.                digital learning services will be significantly   of a new outsourced call centre that was not
           It’s against this backdrop that Pearson          lower than predicted in our original plan. We     aligned with the closure of the in-house call
       South Africa’s sales have weakened, both             can expect that austerity measures such as        centre, all conspired to challenge the business
       in the learning services and traditional             travel and other spending cuts will become        in every possible way. On their own, each of
       publishing divisions of the business.                the regular order of business.”                   these would have been taxing, Ogden notes.
           “Our strategy has been set back by                  On a more positive note, Pearson South         In combination, the impact was harsh.
       slowing economic growth in South Africa,             Africa has controlled operational expenses           “On the upside, we have restructured
       and by unexpected cutbacks on textbook               and implemented successful cost-saving            the way we view our sales pipeline through
       spending in the country,” says Mike Ogden,           measures. Gross profit percentages                a more focused approach to schools that
       executive director for Operations and                remained high on the back of last year’s          have high levels of enrolment (Project
       Finance, Pearson South Africa. “At the same          buffer stocking policy, which enabled the         Focus),” he says. “This should enable us to
       time, we’re reshaping our business model in          company to benefit from the sales of books        move closer to our planned targets for
       line with the shift from print to digital.”          at 2014 prices.                                   2016 and thereafter.”

14 Pearson 2015

   “In addition, the direct delivery                    “Our Operations team is                    4. The transfer of the Johannesburg
management team is looking at rationalising             committed to creating the                     insourced call centre to an out-
the business’ operating expenses and                    highest level of efficiency possible          sourced call centre with 80 agents
various cost structures. We’re planning to              within the organisation and to                at WNS in Bellville, Cape Town.
implement sustainable savings for 2016 and              maximise profit. Together, the             5. The relocation of the Cape
into 2017. Our main goal, over the next                 team faced many challenges                    Town head office, including 310
financial year, is to boost direct delivery             during the year,” says Pearson                employees, from Pinelands to the
so that we can return to acceptable                     South Africa’s Mike Ogden.                    refurbished AAA grade Media
profitability levels by 2018.”                                                                        City building in the Foreshore
                                                           Here are the highlights:                   precinct. In addition to a more
THE IMPACT OF THE RAND                                  1. The opening of the Midrand                 competitive monthly rental, staff
Both Learning Services and Publishing                      Graduate Institute (MGI)                   can now work from an open plan,
rely on a certain amount of imported                       main campus in Bedfordview,                modern, attractive building that is
publications. Higher education textbooks,                  Johannesburg.                              also central.
in particular, have increased significantly in          2. The opening of a residence at the       6. Pearson has made significant
price and are testing the market. This will                MGI campus, which can house                progress in improving its
require an investigation into pricing policies.            420 students.                              broad-based black economic
   “We did, however, negotiate a strong                 3. The exit from two Johannesburg             empowerment (B-BBEE) score
supply deal with the company’s main printer                head offices and the move of               under the new codes of practice
at the beginning of 2015, resulting in a sub-              both to the Midrand MGI campus,            when it comes to ownership and
inflation percentage increase. This means                  resulting in reduced rental costs.         preferential procurement.
we’ve not yet been affected by the increase
in the costs of paper,” says Ogden. “In the
Direct Delivery business, certain overseas
royalty payments have been adversely
affected, but this is not a major contributor
to decreasing profits.”
                                                  “Our main goals over the next
In the Publishing business, Pearson South
                                                  financial year are to focus on the sales
Africa expects further advances into
digital as the move away from textbooks
                                                  pipeline and cost structure in direct
continues. Proofs of concepts (POCs) are
being conducted in Kwazulu-Natal, the Free
                                                  delivery so that we can return to
State and Gauteng. These are functional
systems for teachers and learners and it’s
                                                  acceptable profitability levels by 2018,
expected that they’ll be fully implemented
over the next three years – in a joint
                                                  and to continue to retain market
venture with Telkom and the Department
of Basic Education – at 1 670 schools across
                                                  share in the print market and grow the
these provinces.
   In the Direct Delivery business, Pearson
                                                  digital offering.” Mike Ogden, Pearson South Africa
South Africa will continue to optimise
campus size, class size, and the overall
student experience. It will also align its cost
structure with the current level of students.        The fact that 2016 is a provincial election   education and skills,” says Ogden. “By
   Ongoing focus on the sales pipeline and        year bodes well for the company as this          continuing to meet some of South Africa’s
cost structure will ensure that Pearson           could lead to increased textbook buying.         biggest education challenges we can build
South Africa returns to the levels of                “Despite the difficulties we confronted       a stronger, agile, more profitable and faster
profitability it’s accustomed to in this          in 2015, Pearson is uniquely positioned to       growing company with increased focus on
marketplace within the next two years.            help meet the national demand for better         the student experience.”

                                                                                                                                        Pearson 2015 15
TECHNOLOGY              Photography by Karolina Komendera

                                                                                                           creation of new business processes and
                                                                                                           target models. It also helped lay the
                                                                                                           groundwork for more technological

       WATERSHED                                                                                           revolution. This is paralleled by the
                                                                                                           new campuses, which set innovations,
                                                                                                           such as softphones and video
                                                                                                           conferencing facilities, into place.
                                                                                                           This improvement was evident when
                                                                                                           Pearson South Africa opened its new
                                                                                                           headquarters in Cape Town.
       2015 had its share of victories and challenges, yet                                                    Most of Pearson South Africa’s
       the year may also be a watershed in the company’s                                                   telephone communications, including its
                                                                                                           call centre, now use softphones. These
       technology-powered future.                                                                          applications enable calls to be made over
                                                                                                           Pearson’s computer networks and blend
       Written by James Francis
                                                                                                           with other collaboration technologies. The
                                                                                                           South African head office is already home
                                                                                                           to a state-of-the-art video conferencing
                                                                                                           room, one of only two currently across

                                                                                                           Pearson’s global presence.
                  arlier in 2015, Pearson cut the           conscious of engaging Pearson’s users,            “Softphones and technologies, such as
                  ribbon on its new Bedfordview             customers and suppliers.”                      Google Hangouts, have completely changed
                  campus. It was a significant                                                             how meetings at Pearson are handled.
                  moment, but not because this              PLAN FOR CHANGE                                There is much more integration, which is
       state-of-the-art facility adds to Pearson’s          Modern technology can bring incredible         allowing the company to expand its services
       cachet as a leader of the educational                changes to the table, some that need to        in ways we couldn’t offer before.”
       industry. The campus is a marker in a                be eased into. A case in point is when
       journey that began back in 2012, when                Pearson South Africa replaced its ageing       RESTRUCTURING LEARNING
       Pearson South Africa started investing in            CRM system with, a              This will pick up even more pace in 2016.
       a future molded by technology. The new               market-leading application that Pearson        One example is the disparate timetables
       campus is a blueprint of what’s to come,             South Africa can expand and thrive on. It      in Pearson South Africa. Next year, these
       including the launches of similar sites in           was a necessary and positive upgrade, yet      will be unified under a single system,
       Pretoria, Potchefstroom and Durban                   the IT teams did not really allow users to     which opens new possibilities –not
       during 2016.                                         keep pace.                                     the least being able to deliver remote
          But even if that future is being                     “A lesson we definitely learned in 2015     learning facilities.
       technology-shaped, it’s not technology-              is not to do too much too quickly. The            “On some of our campuses, there
       driven. Quite the opposite, says Nirvani    system was brought in           aren’t enough students per subject to
       Dhevcharran, executive director of                   quite seamlessly, but we underestimated        justify having a permanent lecturer. In
       Technology at Pearson South Africa: “We              how much that change would impact              the past, this would have meant shelving
       technologists are used to operating in               everyone in the company. So we had             that course until more interest is shown.
       the back office, putting down the digital            a longer stabilisation period, but today       But if we use a universal timetable that
       building blocks for business to use. But             the transition has been a success,” says       our video meeting systems can integrate
       success doesn’t happen in a vacuum,                  Dhevcharran.                                   into, one lecturer can engage with many
       and during 2015 we became increasingly                  The shift was significant, initiating the   classrooms at the same time.”

16 Pearson 2015
Nirvani Dhevcharran,
                                                           executive director
                                                           of Technology at
                                                           Pearson South Africa                 PEARSON TECHNOLOGY
                                                                                                IN 2015

                                                                                              • Introduced a new Salesforce.
                                                                                                com CRM system to replace
                                                                                                the outdated CRM systems in
                                                                                                Pearson South Africa
                                                                                              • Opened the landmark
                                                                                                Bedfordview campus, laying
                                                                                                the blueprint for more
                                                                                                technologically advanced
                                                                                                campuses across South Africa
                                                                                              • Distributed over 5 000 tablets
                                                                                                to learners, including 12 public
                                                                                                schools in Kwazulu-Natal
                                                                                              • Converted telephony systems,
                                                                                                including the Pearson South
                                                                                                Africa contact centre, to
                                                                                                softphone technology for
                                                                                                better and more cost-effective
                                                                                              • Heavy investment in and
                                                                                                deployment of video
                                                                                                conferencing facilities, including
                                                                                                one of two telepresence suites
                                                                                                in Pearson Global.

          “We technologists are used                                                      communication with the rest of Pearson’s
                                                                                          user base. Projects such as the Salesforce.
          to operating in the back                                                        com implementation help us strengthen
                                                                                          those relationships.”
          office, putting down the digital                                                    The excitement among Pearson South
                                                                                          Africa’s technology staff is palpable:
          building blocks for business                                                    much of the past few years has been
                                                                                          spent creating the foundation for this
          to use.” Nirvani Dhevcharran, Pearson South Africa                              big technology push. Some are already
                                                                                          showing results that are changing how
                                                                                          Pearson operates. Much of what the local
                                                                                          team has accomplished is being absorbed
                                                                                          into Pearson’s global IT strategy.
   Digital learning is a large part of      library – improving access to these digital       Yet, this is only the beginning, says
Pearson’s education strategy. In 2015,      materials is another area of focus in 2016    Dhevcharran: “In 2016, we will be
the local chapter distributed over 5 000    for Dhevcharran and her team.                 introducing some game-changing
tablet computers to learners – including                                                  technologies that not only help point to
several public schools in Kwazulu-Natal.    BETTER COMMUNICATION                          the future of Pearson, but the educational
This momentum will continue in 2016         Pearson South Africa’s technologists          market as a whole. But we couldn’t
with at least 5 000 more tablets, as well   have been growing more user-centric           have done it without the support and
as the introduction of Pearson’s own        for a while, but 2015 demonstrated that       collaboration of Pearson’s staff and partners.
e-reader application. That in turn ties     it’s an ongoing process: “The important       It’s those relationships that make this journey
into Pearson’s growing online resource      thing is that we keep improving our           meaningful and very exciting!”

                                                                                                                               Pearson 2015 17
SALES    Photography by Karolina Komendera

                                                                                earson is facing stiffer market

       CUSTOMER                                                                 conditions today than ever
                                                                                before. The cornerstone of a

                                                                                successful sales strategy in such
                                                                    a demanding environment is customer
                                                                    service. Companies can win customer

       PAYS OFF                                                     loyalty and improve profits only by meeting
                                                                    or exceeding customer expectations.
                                                                       “One of the most constructive experiences
                                                                    of 2015 for Pearson South Africa was the
                                                                    improvement of our relationship with Van
       Creating customer value, satisfaction and loyalty            Schaik, the largest specialist academic book
       is central to a solid sales strategy.                        chain in the country, and one of our biggest
                                                                    higher education customers,” says Alan Tait,
       Written by Monique Verduyn                                   executive director: Sales, Pearson South Africa.
                                                                    “Through personal care, regular face-to-face
                                                                    meetings, and a commitment to increasing the
                                                                    company’s confidence in Pearson South Africa,
                                                                    we gained deep insight into Van Schaik’s wants
                                                                    and needs, and what was working in its favour,
                                                                    or not. The process was initiated towards the
                                                                    end of 2014, and we succeeded in raising Van
                                                                    Schaik’s customer satisfaction score from four
                                                                    to eight out of ten.”

                                                                    LEARNING WHAT CUSTOMERS WANT
                                                                    Over the course of 2015, Pearson conducted
                                                                    customer satisfaction surveys with 15 top
                                                                    customers throughout the year. To ensure
                                                                    objectivity and fairness, the surveys were done
                                                                    by employees who have no involvement with
                                                                    these customers.
                                                                       “Stock availability and pricing remain key
                                                                    issues,” says Tait. “Typical problems that all
                                                                    publishers face include late delivery of books to
                                                                    stores and other customers, and we’ve made a
                                                                    concerted effort to improve turnaround times.
                                                                    One of the challenges in our business is to pre-
                                                                    empt the top-selling publications and ensure
                                                                    that we have enough stock on hand to meet
                                                                    customer demands timeously. It’s a constant
                                                                    battle to try to determine which titles will sell
                                                                    and which will gather dust in the warehouse.”
                                                                       When it comes to digital solutions users and
                                                                    customers, says Tait, they want to be assured that
                                                                    any problems they experience will be fixed as
                                                                    quickly as possible. In the classroom environment,
                                                                    when an e-book does not work, learning comes
                                                                    to a stop. Service level agreements (SLAs) are in
                                             Alan Tait, executive   place to ensure speedy resolution of problems.
                                             director: Sales,
                                             Pearson South Africa      “Our customer call centre has performed

18 Pearson 2015
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