Time to swim or sink!

Digital transformation in the media

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In today’s media market, if you are slow, or stand still, you will not last very long. You will die, even if you are the most important brand in the world. Praying for results is not an answer. The world and the audience have changed.

Everyone is committed to growing digital. They know change is the only way forward, but cultural change is hard. For many years, journalists understood their job was done when the article was written. Now they have to think digital and work digital.

It’s good that the two leading media houses in Kenya have finally come to the realisation and understanding that with the new shift, the main question is no longer, what will go online? but what will go in the paper?. Digital is where things start and paper is now just another content channel. Life is digital, consumers are 24/7. People cannot wait for the daily paper. The bigger challenge for most traditional media houses will be in their ‘service design’.

What is ‘SERVICE DESIGN’ you may ask?

Service design is the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication, and material components of a service in order to improve its quality and the interaction between the service provider and its customers. Service design may function as a way to inform changes to an existing service or create a new service entirely.

When you have two chips shops right next to each other, and each sells the exact same chips at the exact same price, service design is what makes you walk into one and not the other.

Remember the last time you got frustrated with your bank? It surely wasn’t because its building wasn’t beautiful enough. It was because of the interactions you had either with its staff or with some automated pieces such as their apps or websites. These elements that pissed you off are the service elements of the bank.

The service design approach brings a human focus to the development of services. It helps organizations see the big picture as customers see it and offers tools to design every little interaction between customers and the entire organization.

With the current newsroom(s) still being paper centric, despite some digital efforts they will have to offer a very unique and differentiated digital product(s) with a new workflow, a new core-periphery production system, and a super desk (phased out transition into a single news (SUPER) desk from the current 2 or 3 newsrooms, from offline to online production staff and a new era of integration).

The super desk will be the new command centre, constantly pushing editors and reporters. They must think digital, produce for multiple platforms and not forget paper, which is the last stop in the daily cycle. As multi-platform content sections are developing multimedia stories, a group of paper copy desks transforms the most relevant stories, along with some exclusive news, for the next day’s print editions. The super desk is the key to providing good content for both digital and print.

Journalists, sales and marketing staff, UI, UXers and audience analysts all working together to serve readers and ensure the financial health of the media outlets. Producing high-quality content throughout the day, to generate reader habits and fidelity; fully integrated multimedia editors and reporters produced content centrally and distribute it through a set of media brands on to the different platforms.

This new re-invention will have numerous challenges that c-suite management will have to be brave on, from the product side with new products, paywalls, and new forms of monetisation; and on the culture side, becoming more innovative, finding new ways to collaborate, finding new ways to experiment — and creating a culture that fosters growth.

A new digital strategy by itself will not be enough it will require the right professionals in the right positions to execute it. A historical shift towards monomedia journalism which will require a connected, modern, open-minded journalist(s) to lead. Using tech, all kinds of data to offer multiple persona audiences the best quality content they can produce.

Here in lies the battle for the media houses. Swim or sink, what will it be?


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We can be reached at human[at]utu.co.ke for service design solutions that create value for businesses, Thanks.

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Observations on human-centered approaches to Value Creation Design from http://utu.co.ke/

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