The U.S. education-publishing industry is undergoing a profound change. The shift to online learning is swiftly altering the competitive environment. Educators, students, parents, entrepreneurs, and politicians alike are looking for new ways to harness technology to improve student achievement, reduce costs, and deliver a more customized learning experience.
Meanwhile, a host of emerging companies are breaking down the boundaries between segments of the market in everything from curriculum and assessment to delivery and analytics, giving rise to potential new partners, competitors, and platforms. Publishers are vying with both traditional companies and online upstarts for a place in the digital ecosystem of education—not just the network of companies, individual contributors, institutions, and customers that interact to create mutual value, but also the technical platforms that allow devices, applications, data, products, and services to work together in new ways. (See “The Age of Digital Ecosystems: Thriving in a World of Big Data,” BCG article, July 2013.)
In this fast-changing environment, publishers face a once-in-a-decade chance to expand their share of the $1 trillion currently spent on education in the U.S. each year by adapting their existing offerings to the digital realm and expanding into markets opening up on the edges of their current business. A few publishers are well on their way on this journey, but most lag behind.