Interview by Erin L. Cox
Neil Balthaser is the Founder and CEO of Intellogo, an innovative marketing and merchandising platform for media companies, publishers, retailers, authors and consumers. Intellogo will launch this year at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Through his unique perspective from working at Apple, Barnes & Noble and Adobe, Balthaser stands at the intersection of publishing and technology industries and on the forefront of innovation. He’ll be a featured “player” representing the United States at The Markets: Global Publishing Summit at the Frankfurt Book Fair on October 13, 2015.
Give us a quick overview of how you see your personal role and Intellogo’s in the U.S. publishing marketplace?
I see myself as an ambassador for Machine Learning (and subset of Artificial Intelligence, AI) in the U.S. marketplace. There is a need for the publishing industry to work together on things like industry standards, best practices, ethical policies. Intellogo is seeking partners who can help us establish some of these things so that not just our solutions but everyone’s in the industry can benefit from the applications of Machine Learning. No one company can do it all.
Which countries are you most active and/or considering for developing potential business opportunities?
We are launching in the North American market and then will branch out to other English-speaking markets. After that, we will focus on Europe and other Latin-based language markets. Asian markets are last only because the languages will require changes to our learning algorithms.
While we definitely want and will need to expand the business into new international markets, our first task is to successfully launch into the U.S. market. We feel North America, especially US will be our primary both as volume and customers are accustomed to digital marketplace and use of tablets.
We have a lot of work to do there: to develop the right US business relationships and partnerships. If successful in the US market then we will focus energy and time on the English-speaking markets like the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other countries where people are reading English-language books. There’s no doubt that we will need international business relationships to help us launch into new markets – more so than we need in the US because we need help in understanding how the nuances of these new markets.
Are there popular misconceptions about the marketplace and AI that you would like to correct?
There is this misconception that AI is taking over the world, that it’s really complicated and that the machine is going to replace their job. The fact is that AI is seeing a renaissance after the AI dark ages of the 80’s. But today’s AI solutions are highly focused and are trying to solve real problems in a non-complicated way. Machine learning allows us to create simplified user experiences to complex problems. AI today is a decision support tool to help marketers and retailers do more. It requires a human to make the final judgment.
Why are you excited about participating in The Markets: Global Publishing Summit? Who would you like to meet while you’re at the Frankfurt Book Fair this year?
The Markets: Global Publishing Summit is the perfect venue for us to launch our company. We have exposure and visibility to all the markets, not just our home market. It provides us with the opportunity to meet with early adopter book retailers, marketers, self-publishers and trade publishers all under one roof.