For Us Digital Transformation Is a Lot About Human Transformation

Sudipta Sengupta talks to us about the journey of bringing a digital transformation within a 35 year old print media house

How is the last one year’s experience? You have launched quite a few digital properties within one year

We are a late entrant in the market. We have launched our web and mobile properties only a few months ago. There is still a lot of grounds to cover. So we have to move fast. But the initial results are encouraging. The brand is very strong with very strong base of loyal audience. 

However the real improvement we are bringing is internal. Our internal processes and decision making are gradually becoming data oriented. That is fueling the growth of the digital platforms we are launching for both readers and advertisers.

Does that mean it’s an end of the print business?

Print sales may be declining but the magazine landscape is a little different. The numbers show that physical copies are still an essential part of the magazine landscape, with the top U.S. magazine, AARP The Magazine, having a circulation of over 23 million. And some luxury publishers, such as Monocle, Hodinkee, and Goop, have recently launched new print magazine offerings, further illustrating the continued resilience of the printed word.

I am a digital advocate. But as much as I love the digital world it pains to say that though the power of print has undoubtedly declined due to the proliferation of digital media, digital audience doesn’t stick around. In the same time, a person who has picked up the physical copy has already showed an intent. For us, we are getting a lot more committed visitors on our digital properties due to our print presence.

So, how is BW embracing the digital revolution ?

Internally, currently it is primarily about human transformation. We are trying to set up centralised content and sales team for print, event and sales. That’s a lot of redefining of human processes, CRM and data. We are building the organizational process from scratch with a lot of automation.

Platform wise, we are developing a clear strategy around mobile, video, social media, analytics, and the user experience. We are launching individual media brands targeting readers from newer segments, tapping on newer readers and clients. 

We are also looking at our subscription data for last 35 years. That’s a treasure trove. It tells us so many stories and helps us plan editorial cover to distribution plan so better.

What are the major challenges you are facing?

A lot of challenges. Mindset is the biggest among them. How do we become from a bi-weekly product to a daily product, how do we let data combine with editorial creativity, how do we break individual silos and combine sales data across departments – is a daily fight. Building technical capabilities, redefining processes around them is one part but making people believe those processes and stay committed is the bigger challenge in an age old company. As I said, for us, it’s a lot about human transformation.

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