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The Big Question: Tad Smith, CEO, Reed Business Information

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Q. What are the areas in which you plan to ramp up investment in 2008?

A. Internally, there are four areas. The first is an involuntary investment in the unsustainable increases in postage and paper costs. The second is to accelerate the growth of our Internet presence with technology and people who know about search and online sales. Third is improving our data business, and fourth would be acquisitions. The second, third and fourth items, I'm doing voluntarily; the first, I'm grumbling about. I'm grumbling maybe just a little, but I'm not dyspeptic about it. We are making significant investments in lead generation sales and weaning ourselves off eLogic [Reed Business acquired eLogic in 2000], migrating our sites onto a new platform that offers Web-based communities and features unavailable seven years ago. We're also beefing up our online editorial; however, if you ask someone in California how many people you need to start a Web site, the response is three engineers and one editorial person. If you ask the same question in New York, the response is three editorial people and one engineer. To me, a dollar today spent on site engineering is better than one spent on building editorial content. This may seem counterintuitive, but there's too much focus on content. What you need is content that is more easily found and, when found, more enjoyable to read. That is all about engineering. We want to have sites where people come to enjoy the great content we already have.

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