United Business Media plc announced this week that it acquired Think Service Inc. for its CMP Technology business for $24.5 million. Think Service is a membership, certification and training, and events company that serves IT service and support professionals. It also provides training and information to service desk (help desk) employees.

Think Service also operates an association for IT support professionals across the globe that serves about 7,000 members. It also hosts an annual conference and expo for the industry.

In a company statement announcing the deal, United Business Media noted that Think Service would complement CMP Technology's International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) business that was acquired in 2005. ICMI provides call center consulting, membership, certification and training, and events. Also in the statement, David Levin, CEO of United Business Media, noted that the deal was part of CMP's development in the global exhibition, training and consulting segment that serves the professional IT support market--a market in which CMP has noticed strong growth.

Think Service, along with ICMI, will certainly help CMP Technology (and United Business Media) truly position itself as more than a publisher. It makes the company more of a service provider and a consultant. CMP can provide content its customers need to succeed in this segment as well as the guidance that helps them put that information to use and make it more valuable. United Business Media's strategy to acquire companies like Think Service (which is essentially part publisher-part industry association) is a smart one. As we've said before, becoming an overall service provider is a great customer acquisition and retention strategy. The bond that CMP has with its market will undoubtedly be strengthened as a result of this relationship with Think Service.