During 2012, the Kluwer Navigator was launched, an online portal with all information for lawyers, notaries, board members, policy officials, tax specialists and accountants. This can be linked better to Kluwer’s products to enable better connection with the customer’s work flow. “In the US and the UK developments in terms of integration in the work flow of customers is on another level. The Netherlands is following in this regard.”
Does Wolters Kluwer consider the possibility of linking to competitors’ products, such as Sdu, Reed Business, Boom and Springer? Van Luxemburg: “We don’t yet, but it’s something we might consider at some point.” The fact that digitization isn’t as far as it could be in the legal arena is only due to legislation that stipulates that everything must be provided on paper to the judiciary, says Van Luxemburg. Digital technology is embraced more slowly in this field. People in this field understandably focus on language, and digitization also involves the use of pictures and video.
Design is how it works, the famous quote by Apple founder Steve Jobs, is Van Luxemburg’s motto when it comes to new products. “The customer experience must be top-notch: when you need an instruction manual, it means the product doesn’t work the way you thought it did.” This is what makes the ING mobile banking app, which was developed during his tenure at ING, so good.
“Everything works intuitively and, bit by bit, ING provides more functionality. This is a conscious effort. The app isn’t built from scratch for new developments, but it’s extended. This way you lead customers a bit further every time. Otherwise the switch is too inconvenient. We are currently also using this Agile/Scrum development method at Kluwer.”
It’s a different way of thinking: building an app or a (digital) book. A book is mainly about sharing information. In case of an electronic product, the possibilities are much wider, such as the sharing of information or implementing alerts. The possibilities are abundant, and for a digital product the development, design and the actual realization are important. Product development and design of digital products are done in-house at Kluwer. IT is outsourced for 80 – 90%. ‘Development and design are handled in-house. This is the core: this is your philosophy and identity.
People should immediately recognize a digital product and say: “Ah, this is from Kluwer.”’
But also the security of the content should not have a negative impact on the user experience. “You should always be able to approach our content easily, but you don’t want it to be roaming around either. This can be done safely too. Customers subscribe to Navigator for the entire office and everyone can access the information easily. We are working hard to provide this option to users to access different products with the same user name and password so that you not only have access to Kluwer Navigator but also to, e.g., SmartNewz and SmartDox.”
Wolters Kluwer Netherlands doesn’t have any trouble finding the right people for this. “Digital isn’t new anymore. But what is completely different from the past is the design and user interaction. You need separate people for digital design - people really need to be educated in this particular field.”
Van Luxemburg gets ideas for new and innovative products and systems from interaction with customers, by measuring how customers behave online and by looking at what happens elsewhere in the world. He is in regular touch with Wolters Kluwer’s units in Sweden, Belgium and the US. Internally, there’s healthy competition among employees who all aim to win the Global Innovation Awards. Employees from all levels of the company can submit an innovation proposal and in several rounds all employees can vote for the projects. The three best ones are presented to the Chairman of the Board, Nancy McKinstry.