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by Mike Groth

Normally at this time of year, we would be meeting and greeting our customers and friends at the London Book Fair. I think it’s fair to say that no one at KGL misses that more than the head of our Sutton, UK office, Marion Morrow. I caught up with Marion virtually in lieu of the pub about being a people-person during the pandemic, her deep experience on both the publisher and provider sides of the business, and how technology-based solutions can help publishers, especially during this time.

MG: Please tell us a bit about your role at KGL.

MM: I have been Director, Sales & Marketing, for UK and Europe for the last 12 years. My favourite part of the job is meeting customers and bringing new clients into our business, engaging with them at conferences and trade shows, keeping them up to date with all the new tools and services we continue to develop. It’s the thing I’m most looking forward to doing, in person, post-pandemic. The most satisfying part of my job is when a new customer comes back to me to tell me they are getting a great service from our teams—just like I said they would!

MG: The global pandemic has dramatically affected those who work in relationship-based roles such as sales. How have you managed to navigate and adapt to the reality of not being able to meet customers in person?

MM: Our well-established business relationships and reputation in the marketplace are standing us in good stead for sales even though face-to-face meetings are now virtual. Adapting to it was easy and fun because it had novelty value to start with but now it’s the new Business As Usual.

MG: As somebody who has extensive experience working within major academic publishers, what do you think has changed most over the years in terms of what publishers now expect from technology and service providers?

MM: It’s less about the publisher and the service provider, and more about a partnership. It’s a symbiotic relationship. We have always been a top-notch provider and we work with top-notch publishers. Handling a high volume of articles year-on-year drives us to develop better and faster tools, like Artificial Intelligence (AI), to get the product to market ever faster.

This has never been more true than now, in the age of COVID-19.

The pandemic has thrust the work that academics do day-in, day-out, into the limelight, to an audience the vast majority of which had no idea existed. We have been instrumental in making the research that academics have developed at breakneck speed available in the real world, in real time. That is both an honour and a privilege.

MG: You’ve spoken about the potential of AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to automate and speed up traditional processes like language analysis and copyediting. What’s next for applications being developed for the publishing industry?

MM: I cut my production teeth on an AI journal, working in conjunction with the Turing Institute. I remember sitting in the office proofreading the articles during my lunch break—and then reading them again and asking myself, “what did it all mean?” Well, it’s taken a while, but now I know and it’s here to stay.

At KGL we have always developed or own tools to cut shelf time and reach the market at superfast speed; now we have found ways to use the power of AI analysis in conjunction with NLP to get to the finish line even quicker—with enhanced quality.  Next up is applying the principles of professional publishing techniques, superior language analysis processing and speed to market to self-service tools for authors that we are developing (watch this space!), and applying those same techniques to transform KGL PubFactory services, too.

MG: Would you say publishers are still skeptical about AI or has the dial now moved? What would you say are the main barriers still preventing widespread adoption?

MM: The dial has moved from scepticism to intrigue. More publishers are intrigued to know how it can best be used for their portfolios. Our AI tools enable us to analyse and improve quality, and our automation tools take care of the speed! Easy! For me, it’s a matter of playing to AI’s strengths to give our publishers a great customer experience. Widespread adoption is just a matter of time.

MG:, Finally, what do you like to do in your spare time when you’re not helping publishers speed research to market?

I dance! Ceroc, which is a fusion dance phenomenon here in the UK. Weekends away and workshops as well as social dancing in the evening. Sadly, I can never go on the Ceroc summer week away in Spain because it always clashes with the ALPSP conference… Can’t wait to get my dancing shoes back on when C19 rules ease up.

Marion Morrow has enjoyed working as the UK Sales Director at KnowledgeWorks Global Ltd. and its predecessors, Cenveo Publisher Services and Glyph International, since the 2000s. She spent her early career in magazine and newspaper production, before stepping up to academic books and journals at Springer and then Taylor & Francis. She can be reached at

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