Fairfax Media, Australia’s leading digital publisher, reigns in an industry hard hit by digitalization.
Twenty years ago, Bill Gates demonstrated his visionary grasp of the impact the Internet would have on every aspect of society in an essay titled Content is King: “Content is where I expect much of the real money will be made on the Internet, just as it was in broadcasting,” he wrote in 1996.
“The television revolution spawned a number of industries, including the manufacturing of TV sets, but the long-term winners were those who used the medium to deliver information and entertainment. Anyone can publish whatever content they can create, but to be successful online, a magazine can’t just take what it has in print and move it to the electronic realm. There isn’t enough depth or interactivity in print content. People must be rewarded with deep and extremely up-to-date information that they can explore at will…and they need an opportunity for personal involvement that goes far beyond that offered through the letters-to-the-editor pages of print magazines.”
The other big challenge identified by Gates was the topic of revenue generation. He was confident, however, that technology would liberate publishers to charge small amounts of money to attract wide audiences.
In the 1990s, Bill Gates was confident that technology would liberate publishers
“Those who succeed,” he predicted, “will propel the Internet forward as a marketplace of ideas, experiences, and products – a marketplace of content.”
A Balancing Act
Today, the media industry is still grappling with the challenges Gates identified decades ago, and then some. Add the issues of mobility, Big Data, personalization and distribution — aka the Queen of Content — and the environment becomes truly formidable. Media companies have to inform, entertain, socialize, make money, and figure out the best way to leverage technology to remain relevant.
Enterprises like Fairfax Media, a multiplatform media company reaching more than 13 million Australians and 3 million New Zealanders, face declining print readership, more competitors, and pressure to deliver at low cost.
“It’s not enough to create content. We must meet the needs of diverse communities online, in print and on social media. We have extensively broadened our portfolio to remain competitive. Ten years ago, we just had print and radio. Now we have new business units like real estate and events. This means a huge surge of new data requiring new business insights,” said Diego Lombardini, head of Finance Systems at Fairfax Media at the recent launch of SAP BW/4HANA at the Terra Gallery in San Francisco.
Technology to the Rescue
“We don’t know what’s ahead, but we’re not tailoring for current requirements. We are investing in platform technologies that will help us be ready for the future. We need a platform for our APIs (application programming interfaces), so we can build according to our business needs. The platform is not just for running the back office; it must provide analytical capabilities. New business units mean a huge surge of new data requiring new business insights. We are using SAP BW/4HANA to analyze the profitability of the events we support. That enables us to quickly decide which ones to eliminate from our portfolio.”
Fairfax Media is a frontrunner in an industry that was particularly hard hit by digital transformation. To better understand digital transformation opportunities and risks in specific industries, the World Economic Forum launched the Digital Transformation of Industries (DTI) project last year.
Fairfax Media is a frontrunner in an industry hit particularly hard by digital transformation
According to the DTI report on Media, changing consumer behavior and the demand for instant access to content, anytime, anywhere is driving the digitalization of the industry and changing the way media is created, accessed and consumed.
While the broad opportunities for most companies continue to involve supplying information or entertainment, the real winners will be companies like Fairfax Media that diversify to monetize and digitize to deliver an engaging multi-channel experience.