There are very few, if any, media companies that don’t talk extensively about the state of their transformation progress.

At the same time, management that purports to want or even mandate disruptive innovation exhibits certain behaviours, contradicting cultural and statistical realities reflected in actions and valuations.

Media companies eager to make a transformational impact must conduct assessments and invest in appropriate staff.
Media companies eager to make a transformational impact must conduct assessments and invest in appropriate staff.

Here is a suggested 2019 checklist to help determine whether such efforts are having transformational impact:

1. Board assessment. Transformation through disruptive innovation can only be achieved with 100% board support. An in-depth board assessment — of not only the 2018 operating results but also a transformation assessment — establishes a baseline for future performance.

2. Outside consultant assessment. Engage an outside consultant to provide an arms-length perspective on transformation initiatives that provides a side-by-side comparison to the board’s assessment. It is sure to produce contrasts that will enhance decision-making quality regarding management and strategy.

3. Software assessment. One would think that in 2019, media companies would be armed with the latest software enablement tools that replace manual processes. That is not always the case in an industry allocating a small percentage of its budget to capital expenditures.

Management should be tasked with providing the board with a menu of software tools it has licensed in areas including CMS, CRM, story tracking, optimisation, lead generation, and finance, in addition to future software needs.

4. Unified data. Trivia question: How many data repositories exist within most media companies? I would estimate 35 to 40. Is all the data in one place? Unlikely.

Why is this such an important subject? The harder we make unified data work, the more we know about our audiences and advertisers, which, in turn, allows for greater growth potential.

5. Investment in human resources. HR needs to be viewed as far more than a department responsible for benefits programmes and record keeping. HR should play an integral role in organisational development in a time of rapidly changing competitive skill sets and training curriculum from senior management to line workers.

6. Digital curators. Closely related to organisational learning is the introduction of news and sales curators. Curators provide direction, data interpretation, and suggestions on how to optimise stories and ad campaigns on a day-to-day basis, enhancing capacity, capability, and the overall transformation of news media organisations.

7. Internal marketing campaigns. A Forbes piece by Michael DesRochers about the benefits of effective internal marketing campaigns is worth a read. In another tip of the hat to an effective HR strategy, he answers the question of what defines the employee experience. That could very well be the most pressing 2019 transformational question for news media organisations.