How to Integrate New Technology into Your Organization in 3 Steps
There’s no question that tech forces continue to both frustrate and foment the publishing industry. Technology is forcing fundamental changes within organizations. And while publishers need to adapt or risk falling further behind, integrating new technologies into your business and implementing new processes within your teams adds another layer of challenges. However, there’s good news: publishing is not unique in its need to introduce new technologies into existing and often antiquated systems, and when it comes to facilitating smooth organizational transitions, the same guiding principles apply across industries.
Here are 3 simple steps to bringing new technology into your teams: Think, Ask, Do.
1. THINK: Listen to yourself.
It’s more important than ever for legacy corporations to take control -- and advantage -- of technology’s impact on your organization by developing a strategy of selecting and integrating technology that’s driven by your two most important customers: your employees and your consumers. A tech strategy that can both alleviate employee pain points and increase value to consumers will be welcomed.
But before you get started investigating your constituents’ needs, think for yourself. What are your management priorities? How will you filter and assess the information that comes back? In a “tie,” who wins, reader or advertiser? These are difficult questions to ask, but their answers must be clear to you before you seek feedback from your constituents. In fact, the best listening will occur when you already know how you will process the information -- not a predetermined outcome, but a framework for rationalizing the data.
2. ASK: Get constituent buy-in.
Start with your product team(s). How do you determine which technologies are best for your business? Start by asking your employees: What are your biggest burdens? What is causing delays, bottlenecks, and frustrations amongst your teams? These constituents are the front line with your readers, and they have the data on usage, time spent and productive feedback. They are also probably your best source of competitive intelligence from a product offering perspective.
Continue with your sales team(s). Move from product to your revenue engine. From a sales perspective, find out which of the product frustrations are making it more difficult for sellers to create revenue. Do you have an ad unit problem? Do you have a traffic or page-views problem? Do you have an engagement problem? These constituents are speaking to your ad partners on a regular basis. They are hearing their frustrations and their excuses for moving budgets elsewhere. They are your best source of competitive intelligence from a sales offering perspective.
Then, move on to readers. What do your readers love about your product? What do they want, but have to go elsewhere to get? Take a look at what’s working for them and improve on it. A good example of this is recommendations. Business Insider continues to refine its recommendation engine for articles in a way that not only improves suggestions for readers, but also keeps them on their site by suggesting other BI articles. They’ve now taken this a step further and begun to suggest sponsored content, therefore leveraging the trust (and effective mouse trap) they’ve built with their readers through previous article suggestions to make advertisers happy.
Align on priorities. To process constituent responses and develop a strategy for addressing their needs, management must align on priorities, harkening back to Stage 1 efforts. If you’re hearing from employees that they’re frustrated that CRM tools are lacking, or from readers that the user experience is poor, which of those issues is most urgent and important to growing your business? Create a plan for tackling the most important issues with tech solutions in an aggressive, but realistic timeframe, one step at a time.
Aim small, miss small. When it comes to actually integrating and implementing tech solutions, aim small to miss small. This is a best practice stolen from the best-in-class technology and product companies that must be adopted throughout the publishing industry. Identify the subjects and testing ground, set your goals, and set them small. These tests, set up in an agile practice, will give you a manageable amount of feedback in a time-boxed loop. That means that your variables are few and the time between tests is short. Small decisions, small changes, and fast-paced learnings all lead to big impact down the road.
This brings us to the learnings, and back to Stage 1 (think), in a virtuous cycle. You must be able to comprehend if your new offering is strong enough to compel your employees and readers to promote it to their colleagues and friends. This technique, called Net Promoter Score (NPS), is a bedrock principle of technology development companies. They ask themselves and their users a very simple question: “How likely are you to recommend this product/service to a friend/colleague?"
The bottom line? Allowing your three most important constituent sets to determine which technologies you incorporate into their job role or user experience, and testing in small measures, will ensure a smooth transition and, ultimately, successful organizational transformation. Good luck.