The Standard Group is a legacy-built business, yet the company is actively pursuing several innovative initiatives and projects as part of its digital disruption strategy. The company is making this transformation in a very tangible way with a new workspace currently under construction where print, digital, and audiovisual newsrooms will converge.
“We must be ready to radically disrupt ourselves,” said Denise Laila, the Standard Group’s head of product, shared on day two of INMA’s Africa Media Summit. “You have to grow, improve, and distance from legacy operations to modern operations.”
Kizito Namulanda, head of convergence at the Standard Group, noted the new design of the newsroom will allow for better collaboration across platforms.
“In that newsroom, we have defined new workflows and procedures,” he said. This supports the production of digital-first, multi-media, quality content. “There is too much content on the social media space, and if you do not have quality content, people won’t come to your Web site,” he said.
Beyond its physical workspace, the 24-hour news company has been unlocking value across its many television, radio, print, and digital properties, which cater to a wide variety of audiences.
“Our key focus really has been for the past year driving the cost value, the platform value, and the experience value,” Laila said. Leading the Standard Group’s digital transformation are its readers, listeners, and watchers. “The consumer is king. You need to make sure your business is led by the consumer,” she said.
This means ensuring they have access to content when and where they want it, and in the format they desire.
For the Standard Group, this requires having a mobile-first focus. “Mobile is key. A lot of experiential innovations will change and improve how our audiences will interact across our platforms,” Laila said.
“The whole idea of this transformation project is to try and transform the newsroom to solve the current needs of our customers,” Namulanda said. “Everything is on the mobile phone.”
On that front, the company is currently developing an all-in-one mobile app so audiences can consume anything on the go.
In addition, the Standard Group is experimenting with and implementing projects related to Augmented and Virtual Reality, programmatic advertising, the integration of radio programmes broadcast on television, a new content management system, commercial transactions, and podcasts.
The company also has a medical doctor on board (a decision made pre-pandemic) and a special focus on agri-business. It has been holding bespoke in-person and virtual events in which thought leaders are invited to discuss current urgent topics.
An innovation hub team within the newsroom adopts a “fail fast” mindset and often suggests new ideas for the company, some of which have been adopted.
“Business happens at the speed of change,” Laila said. “If we do not drastically innovate, especially in the digital space, we risk losing our audiences.”