David Kieselstein has been driving innovation at Penton Media since taking over as CEO in February 2012.
Kieselstein, former CEO of custom market research company TNS North America, said the key to that innovation has been a “top-down, centralized strategic plan.” Previously, Penton's media, event and business information brands, serving 17 industries, developed strategies independently.
“We have identified six key capabilities-based initiatives, which cut across a good majority of the sectors we participate in,” Kieselstein said. These are clustered around three themes—insights and data products, work-flow tools, and networking and professional community, he said.
“We're able to invest significantly because each one will be scaled,” he said. “We're talking about business models that can go across five, 10 or more sectors.”
To turn strategic vision into actual products and services, Kieselstein has brought in senior executives from outside Penton—and sometimes outside media—whose backgrounds match the capabilities the company is building out.
“We've taken the approach of bringing in folks who can help get the entire company up to speed and mastering these areas,” he said. “We created a central data product-development group staffed with data scientists. We're revamping [existing products] and launching new SaaS-based data solutions.”
Penton is piloting all six initiatives this year, Kieselstein said, adding, “We move to full launch in 2014.”