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Michael Vullings, Head of Customer Experience Transformation, News Corp
Putting customers at the heart of your business has long been essential to success in the media and entertainment industry and is the key to growth and market leadership during times of significant disruption. Digital media has grown rapidly over the last two decades to give consumers more choice; it is now possible to access content anytime, anywhere, and in the format of your choice. Additionally, the experience for advertising customers, who play an important role in funding quality content, also needs to evolve and become much simpler and more customer-focused. Innovation is now more important than ever before, not just for consumers, but also for advertisers and marketers giving them more effective options when creating brand awareness and connecting with consumers in a trusted, brand-safe digital environment.
The Innovator’s Opportunity
To create innovative advertising product solutions and services, the digital media industry is well positioned to harness growth trends such as ‘big data’, ‘artificial intelligence’, and ‘virtual reality’ which are set to disrupt existing value chains and reshape media industry profit pools. To capture the full potential of emerging trends, digital media companies need to act on three imperatives to ensure successful innovation takes place: (1) make big bets for the future today, (2) establish capabilities to build for tomorrow, and (3) test, learn and scale to win. Getting each of these steps right is enabling leading media and entertainment companies to offer innovative and breakthrough customer experiences, product solutions, and services.
1. Make Big Bets for the Future
In a rapidly changing market where product cycles are increasingly shorter, choosing where to invest can often be a challenge. When making investment decisions for the future, the wrong market timing is the same as simply being wrong. The best approach is usually to make some ‘big bets’ by picking a small number of radical innovation themes to invest around, and then experiment with several projects.
Dedicating resources to innovation, building distinctive capabilities, and ring-fencing new initiatives can play key roles in creating an environment where innovation will thrive
2. Establish Capabilities to Build for Tomorrow To develop new and exciting innovations for advertising customers, media companies are setting aside time, capital and top-talent to make innovation a priority. Dedicating resources to innovation, building distinctive capabilities, and ring-fencing new initiatives can play key roles in creating an environment where innovation will thrive. All too often businesses are single-minded about the day-to-day activities of the business, especially in markets where competition is fierce, leaving little scope for invention and trying new ideas.
For innovation to become part of the company DNA, driving cultural change is an important and often overlooked ingredient to success. One way in which companies can establish a broad base of support for innovation-focused customer experience is by inviting staff to take part in a front-line leadership program. This can play a key role in developing support from within and promoting an entrepreneurial culture.
3. Test, Learn, and Scale to Win Conventional approaches to project implementation are linear and frequently follow plan, design, build, test, and deliver phases. This can work well when requirements are stable and well understood, but can stifle experimentation, which requires iterative processes that allow continuous planning and feedback. The use of agile tools and methods can accelerate the delivery process, and help make sure that value is being maximized at every step in delivery. Implementing an agile approach to innovation means having a bias towards ‘test and learn’, including individuals and interactions over processes and tools, working prototypes over excessive documentation, customer collaboration over rigid commitments, and responding to change over following a plan. Overall, agile delivery methods can maximize the quality and productivity of innovation projects.
The way forward
For industries facing early stages of digital disruption, leading media companies can serve as case studies on institutionalizing and building capacity for innovation. To thrive in a digitally disrupted landscape, companies must respond by looking to the future, establishing the right capabilities, and adopting a ‘test, learn, and scale’ approach to transforming customer experience. Not only do these practices create new revenue opportunities, improve customer satisfaction, and drive down costs in a short space of time, but they build competitive advantages in customer-focused innovation, to stay a step ahead of the competition in a fast-changing market.