2 models help news media companies get data, product innovation right

By Shelley Seale


Austin, Texas, USA


By Paula Felps


Nashville, Tennessee, USA


Excellent innovation oftentimes is about the models youre using and the questions you ask.

In the first day of INMAs debut Product and Data Media Summit, a virtual event continuing on Tuesdays and Thursdays through October 19, attendees heard from an author and a consultant sharing their advice on getting the data and product innovation models right. 

The 4-principle data model

Caroline Carruthers, author of The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook, said many people are overcomplicating the use of data.

“Data itself is a relatively simple concept,” she said. “It’s the building blocks of how we make decisions. When we put lots of different building blocks together, we can begin having really interesting conversations within the organisation and drive insights from it as well.”

Caroline Carruthers, author of The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook, explains how data isn't as complicated as many people make it.
Caroline Carruthers, author of The Chief Data Officer’s Playbook, explains how data isn't as complicated as many people make it.

Carruthers introduced the data model that is the core of the curriculum to help people answer one question: How do you get the most out of your data as an organisation?

Four principles compose the data model:

Purpose: “When it comes to data, it’s really important you understand the purpose behind what you’re trying to do. There is literally no point in collecting data for the sake of data.”

People: “I’m sure you’ve head the term, ‘data drives digital,’ but the other part of the phrase that I’m really passionate about is ‘people drive data,’” she said.

Method: Method is about how to get things done within the organisation: “Understanding how all the different parts work together is something everyone needs to think about,” she said. That ties into framework, which is the operating model, and policies, which she said need to be kept simple.

Tools: The final element of the data model consists of tools. The most prominent one is technology — but it’s not the end-all solution that too many have come to see it as. “It’s not about technology; technology is a wonderful tool in the arsenal you can use to get data right,” she said. “It is about the outcomes.”

The most common complaint Carruthers hears about data is “it shouldn’t be this difficult.” In many cases, she said, we are making it harder than it has to be: “I think that just by asking the right questions and working together, we’ll have a much brighter future when it comes to working with data.”   

3 key questions to ask about ideas

Making it easier can sometimes mean asking the right questions. John Pipino, a consultant with Doblin, shared three important questions to ask about ideas:

  1. Where do good ideas come from?

  2. How can you refine and improve them?

  3. Can you test them earlier than you have been doing?

“Working within this framework of experience gives us the opportunity to identify the source of all kinds of different ideas,” Pipino said. “With a good idea in hand, comes the time to make it better.”

Typically, the initial ideas will be about what people buy — the product or offering of the company and its features or benefits. Other times they will be about product systems, including complementary products or services. Other ideas might be about speed or performance.

“Sometimes, thinking about an idea will just stop there. But if we do so, we miss these incredible opportunities to think about the different dimensions of customer experience,” Pipino said.

These include how service supports the offers, the channels by which the offers are made, the brand representation of the offers, and the distinct customer engagement interactions being fostered.

“All of these are important, but they will not matter without thinking about how the business is built around them.”

John Pipino, a consultant with Doblin, explained the "balanced breakthroughs" model.
John Pipino, a consultant with Doblin, explained the "balanced breakthroughs" model.

He shared a model called “balanced breakthroughs,” which asks three questions: 

  • Do people want it: Is it desirable from a customer perspective?

  • Will it add value for the business: What’s viable from a business perspective?

  • Can we do it: What’s feasible from a capability perspective (i.e. technology and internal skills)?

“Now we have balanced ideas that have been refined, that are grounded in a holistic look at customer experience,” Pipino said. “Now we need to stitch it together with the right internal teams.”

INMA’s Product and Data Summit continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays through October 19.

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