Innovation is the only sustainable competitive advantage. Don’t take my words for it. In a recent GE-commissioned survey of 1,000 top execs worldwide, 95% stated that innovation is the “main lever” in economic competitiveness. The only constant for any company is change. “Out-innovate” is the key, as President Obama put it in his State of the Union speech.
In the newspaper industry this is as true as ever. The Internet was highly disruptive to legacy newspapers. Audiences started migrating to the Internet while print circulation continued to slip. Newspapers followed reluctantly and (slowly) started offering content online for free. Of course, as we know, ever since, we have struggled to find the right online revenue model.
In 2005, the American Press Institute recognized the need for newspaper transformation. Due to the disruptive nature of the Internet, the focus had to shift from “business as usual” to a focus on innovation. The Newspaper Next project was born led by innovation consulting firm Innosight LLC. The goal was to create a practical framework to enable the creation of innovative cultures and kick-start the transformation from old-school newspapers to modern 21st century media companies. Evidently, many newspapers didn’t listen, and look where we are now.
The Newspaper Next framework is still solid though. And now is the time to put it to use. Download the 2006 and 2008 Newspaper Next reports here.
Enter mobile. Mobile is as disruptive to interactive, as interactive was to print. Mobile provides unique channels with unique benefits to audiences and advertisers.
As audiences rapidly migrate to mobile (including tablets), we cannot allow ourselves to duplicate what was done on the Web. New and competing lines of thinking must be introduced, innovation focused solely on mobile must be at the forefront, and the clear goal must be to pursue of new and younger audience. Furthermore, we need to take a hard look at paid content again. We need to create valuable experiences that both advertisers and audiences are willing to pay for.
There is only one way to deal with disruption. Innovation. And for mobile innovation to flourish, it must be separated from legacy businesses. Media companies must allow autonomous groups to focus solely on mobile without worrying about competing interests from print and online. It is time to get to work. It is time to innovate.