MAD Perspectives Blog

 Managing through the Digital Transition

Peggy Dau - Thursday, March 18, 2010

I was at the Digital Hollywood/Business Week 2010 Media Summit, in NYC, last week.  I was inspired by the thoughtful comments from keynote speakers and panelists.  The mainstays of the NY media industry (advertising, publishing and broadcast) are all in the midst of great upheaval as the internet, online video and social media pose challenges to their traditional business models.  I've become a huge fan of the NY Times for reasons far beyond having been a dedicated reader since I was a child.  While advertising and broadcast are faced with ongoing monetization challenges, they already leveraged the concept of a "network".  However, the newspaper biz is a truly analog business.  We consumer content by buying a physical product, get ink stains on our hands and recycle the product after consumption.

The demise of the newspaper business has been debated for several years and many papers have had to close their doors in the last few years.  There is no argument that the model must change and in full recognition of this, The New York Times dedicates a large portion of its R&D budget (YES, they have a R&D group!!) to digital.  The New York Times is focused on leveraging existing and emerging digital channels to reach their customers (and allow their customers to reach them).  The lessons they are learning as they evolve are meaningful for the publishing industry brethren but also for non-media industry businesses challenged by the plethora of digital media options available to them.

I would like to share a few of my takeaways for their keynote:

- Stay true to your customers.  Remember what you have promised be it innovation, quality, integrity, entertainment, reliability, humor, etc.
- Your content should support your promise.
- New Media is an opportunity, invest in it.  Define a 3-5 year plan.  Yes, it will change as new platforms, technology and cultural standards shift.
- Acknowledge what you don't know - it's OK!
- Alternative business models will continue to emerge but profit is still the bottom line
- Keep an open mind:  test, learn, adapt

There are pros and cons to sticking with what's tried and true versus jumping on the latest technology bandwagon.  Take the time (but don't get stuck in analysis paralysis) to figure out how these technologies can benefit your business.  Thanks New York Times Company for being a role model!

What's your perspective?