As Prozes is finding out, it’s also tough to change. Seven years later, LexisNexis is a very different company, but “the market doesn’t understand that we’re no longer a database company,” says Prozes, who spent the last seven years working to transform LexisNexis from primarily a research entity into a strategically aligned, global solutions provider. “When I came on board, we were a very dispirited, [disjointed] company that was losing out to our prime competitor, Thompson,” recounts Canadianborn Prozes, who has seen revenues rise from $1.9 billion (2001) to $3.2 billion (2007) under his tenure. “We needed to build a global organization that was unified under a common brand around a common strategy, and to focus on improving our products through a renewed emphasis on technology.”
Prozes lost no time taking steps to bring the ailing collection of disparate country operations of Lexis- Nexis, a division of Reed Elsevier based in New York City, into alignment. “It was remarkably difficult, and still is,” he says. “To compare an operation in Malaysia, for example-where the people speak a different language, live and work in a different time zone, have an entirely different set of customers-
to what we do in Germany or France or Australia isn’t an easy concept.” In addition to forging a corporate culture capable of embracing the local cultures of LexisNexis outposts across the globe, Prozes faced the challenge of shifting the company’s business focus. “We’ve essentially taken the information we have and added technology based workflow tools to allow, typically, legal practitioners, but other information practitioners as well, to do their jobs better and more quickly,” he explains.
Much of that additional technology came to LexisNexis through a series of acquisitions-35 over the past nine years-which had to be integrated into the company’s offerings and sold to a client base spread out over more than 100 countries.
“Lawyers all over the world need to handle their practices, get new clients, handle litigation, apply for patents and so on,” says Prozes. Delivering such information-based solutions to lawyers across the globe comprises the bulk of LexisNexis’ total revenue-about 75 percent.
While the U.S. market still accounts for a hefty two-thirds of that revenue, the balance is beginning to shift. LexisNexis already has significant business in the U.K., France, Canada, Australia and Germany, and Prozes expects “explosive growth” in markets like India, Taiwan, Korea and China. In addition to that global growth, he’s banking on the fast-growing sector of risk information analysis (RIA) to continue to drive Lexis- Nexis’ profits going forward.
“RIA has grown dramatically, and continues to grow in the double digits,” says Prozes, who says the credit card boom and security concerns are the principal drivers of that growth. “Laws about [privacy] are much more stringent here in the U.S. and in the U.K., which means that you have to rely much, much more on news articles to verify that people are who they say they are-and we have by far the largest database of news articles of anybody else on the face of the Earth.”