TRP: What do you think the main challenges are for publishers and what role will technology play in solving them?
RB: The newcomers to the industry (the online-only publishers) are able to design specifically to be read on mobiles straight away and to be shared. On the technology front, they are unhampered by outdated IT systems and can use new technologies to give them the agility to respond quickly to changing demands.
In contrast, the ageing corporates are weighed down with unwieldy, patched-together technology stacks. They still need manual labour and extensive workarounds. Front offices are disconnected from the back. They probably have a CRM system linked to core business areas, but it's unlikely to cover the entire organisation. This means that they have no single view of each individual reader's behaviour across both print and digital, so they are unable to deliver the highly personalised online content that today's readers expect.
Cloud technology now enables them to place a new technology on top of their legacy systems. This provides the flexibility to make fast changes which then flow seamlessly into existing workflow and processes.
TRP: How do you envisage the media landscape changing in the future?
RB: We are no longer talking about B2C or business to consumer anymore, it's H2H or human to human. In other words we foresee an increasing amount of individual personalisation. Readers want to be treated as individuals and if a publisher has an all-encompassing view of a reader's behaviour – covering print, digital and social media – it can be far more responsive about providing personalised special offers and other incentives, including customised content according to age or interests, for example.
TRP: What do publishers need to do to ensure they stay on top of their game?
RB: The winning formula will be different for each publisher and title. But they need to find it fast and to do this they need fast iteration – failing and then quickly trying again until they succeed – otherwise readers will go elsewhere to competitors who have successfully made the shift to digital.
The changes need to go far beyond the type of content and deals offered. It will take nothing less than a radical transformation of infrastructure to allow enhanced agility. This will enable them to bring more innovations to market faster.
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Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.