Q+A with Amandeep Kochar, Executive VP of Digital Content and Software

Aman Kochar BT_20MEET AMAN—Baker & Taylor’s Executive Vice President of Digital Content, Software Products Services & Sales. He’s passionate about all things digital circulation, from Title Source 360 to Axis 360. Learn a little more about the people behind the scenes at Baker & Taylor with this Q+A with Aman.

 

 

What is your role at Baker & Taylor? 

I am responsible for the Sales of our Digital Circulation Platform Axis360 and all software products like CollectionHQ, ESP, Collect & Connect and Content Café. In addition to my sales responsibilities, I am also responsible for the Product Management, Engineering and Technical  Services for all of Baker & Taylor. Lastly, after our acquisition by Follett, I’m giving guidance for some inter-company projects across B&T, Follett Higher Ed and Follett School Solutions.

Why did you choose this industry? 

Well, I’m an engineer by education and a business professional by accident. I’ve never chosen industries but let them choose me. I started out in computer sciences and then gravitated towards media and entertainment. Finally the plunge into publishing then education technology at McGraw Hill and finally here at Baker & Taylor. There were a few entrepreneurial stints in there too.

What do you love about your job?

Everyone dreams of finding a job that keeps them challenged and has a “feel good factor” to it. I get to jump from a product development meeting thinking of new features for our platforms into an engineering meeting trying to figure out complex issues and then into inter-company projects at Follett to learn about new businesses—this keeps me busy, excited and enthused. However it’s the feeling of enabling a library to provide equal access to all individuals in a community that makes me truly happy. I believe “we can’t control where we come from but can definitely control where we end up,” and so no matter your situation if you have resources like the library that you can depend on, you can be whoever you want to be. And we play a small role in helping libraries achieve that.

What makes our software great?

For Axis 360: We were late to the ebook/e-audiobook party for public libraries, so we had to catch up. It’s easy to have a “me-too” attitude when you are trying to catch up but we kept our own identity. We have always focused on equal access regardless of a user’s situation. From this year on, we have started an Innovation lab within this group to integrate newer technologies and content in Axis 360.

For Title Source360: We call this a library’s ERP (enterprise resource planning) system for acquisition of materials. This truly is the crème da le crème of acquisition systems of books, with millions of books, audiobooks and audio visual material to search, acquire and integrate with a library’s workflow. In all my years of dealing with complex systems, this one would be on top shelf hands down – from the number of sources of data we ingest to the differentiated experience a librarian or retail user can have based on their profiles is special. It is also open in the sense that it integrates with all the ILS partners for a seamless experience to the library staff.

And now with the integration with ESP (Evidence based Selection Planning)—a predictive algorithm from collectionHQ—TS 360 is able to predict the right books and right quantities at a branch level for all the libraries assisting them  in improving efficiency to serve their communities better.

Favorite past-times?

I’m very close to my family and I’m lucky to have my wife as my best friend so most of my time is spent with them. I also enjoy various physical pursuits whenever I get time. Travel would have to be top of the list.

Favorite book? Movie? Music?

Books: Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Fountainhead, Kite Runner, Exit West (most recent), Train to Pakistan

Movies: The Bird Cage, Patch Adams, The Graduate, Godfather, Oceans 11 and 12, Monsoon Wedding, The House of Flying Daggers, Enter the Dragon, Die Hard, Terminator 2, Shrek 2 and many more.

Music: I’m old school so Led Zeppelin, Linkin Park, Aerosmith, Beatles, Bryan Adams

Cat or dog person?

A self confessed dog nut!

Favorite travel spot in the world?

A tie between the Turks and Caicos Islands and Las Vegas. If I could settle down anywhere, it’d be Barcelona, Spain though.

Where do you see Baker & Taylor’s software products 10 years from now?

A deeply intuitive set of products driven by AI and machine learning to prescribe the best course of action for librarians to achieve their community engagement goals. Think voice activated commands asking TS 360 “Hey B&T, can you pick books for my African American history month for the branch on the upper west side” and Title Source 360 provides an instant list based on the demographics, past buying patterns and other data like age, education level of that community.

I also see these products being completely open to be able to integrate with newer forms of content and more immersive experiences

I’m extremely passionate about building a culture of constant transformation and positive energy. One of my recent favorite quotes from Peter Drucker “Culture eats strategy for breakfast!”

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