I came across a couple of articles today that got me thinking about the state of digital transformation, particularly in the publishing and media sectors. Rob O’Regan’s piece in LinkedIn laid out six strategies for publishers to transform themselves digitally. The strategies were focused on new customer offerings that could deliver revenue. They ranged from expanding the range of advertising channels to becoming a ‘white label’ or joint-venture publisher with brands as part of their content marketing strategies, to be a truly mobile platform publisher. All of this with a focus on engaging and delighting audiences, while diversifying revenue streams.
The second piece was Adam Tinworth’s piece, ‘The Three Stages of Digital Transformation‘. While focused on journalists, his insight is applicable across media and publishing, and perhaps beyond. He describes the three ways in which companies ‘transform’ as:
Additive transformations are those where digital is done in addition to print, as a bolt-on. Replicative transformations are simply moving print content and formats to digital platforms, ‘shovelware’ to use his colourful phrase. The third type of transformation is transformative, whereby the company reinvents what it does and how it does it.
What these two articles point to is the fact that many publishers and media companies have gone partway down the digital transformation path. They have identified new offerings and revenue streams in an attempt to counteract the collapse of their old business and financial models. They have been successful to varying degrees, but still find themselves trying to stop a tsunami with a roll of cling film.
What I have seen in over fifteen years of working with companies to adapt themselves to emerging digital age is that those companies who realise that digital is more than e-books and websites and are willing to take the difficult step and redefine:
- What they can we offer that their customers want today, not when the company started
- How to make a profit doing this through increased revenue and/or lower costs
- What needs to be done to make it happen, in terms of different resource profiles and numbers, business models, technology and data models?
This is not a marketing or sales or IT project. It is an organisational reinvention and requires the company to disrupt itself purposely in order to adapt to the new environment. It requires leaders across the business to embrace and champion this transformation and for people across the organisation to accept that ‘business as usual’ is over.