Disrupt Or Be Disrupted!

Finland is a special market for online media. The Finnish online media brands are in control of the online media, i.e. the traffic comes directly to the brands’ sites and not mainly via Google or Microsoft news portals. This is how we Finnish media companies like to keep it in the future too.

"...we need to fully utilize the speed and direction of the general development of technology."

To ensure this, we have to understand the meaning of disruption in practice. Yes, disruption and by this we mean the good and bad in the term. To be able to turn disruption to our advantage we need to fully utilize the speed and direction of the general development of technology. In other words, we do not want to be the Blockbuster or Kodak of our time. Today technology development means digitalization and reinventing your business model.

In digitalization the approach needs to be lean and mean and the digital development teams are the good place to start the change in the way we operate. In the development teams the new ways of working can be developed further and the benefits become more obvious after which the new methods are easier to take through the whole organisation. In other words, the development teams are excellent internal testing environments for changes.

In our view the three most important pointers in relation to digitalization are:

1. Get started. 
Start from somewhere and experiment. The most important thing is to start from somewhere and the sooner the better. And do not evaluate the first investment too long, but instead, accept the fact that the first version is most likely not the final product or service, but it is the first part of the process in which only the version 2 or 3 is the final product.  

"The core of our development is to be ahead of the game."

This approach to development has enabled Sanoma to be the forerunner in the mobile services. For instance, we had iPad service demos shortly after iPads were launched in the US and while there weren’t any iPads in Finland yet. The core of our development is to be ahead of the game. When we get an idea of the direction the digital world is developing, we start going towards it even if we don’t have a 100 % clear picture of what the final service or product will look like. This is what we are doing with Ilta-Sanomat smart watch pilots at the moment. 

2. One size doesn’t fit all. 
There are different ways to be agile depending on the project at hand. In other words back-end project requires different kind of approach than customer-facing project or, for example, our new business projects in our Innovation Lab. Also cooperation between different brands’ development teams can speed up the improvement and implementation of new concepts.

For instance, at Sanoma Media Finland we have joint development teams with people from Helsingin Sanomat, Lifestyle Media and Kids Media. The cooperation means developing and adapting concepts and platforms to different brand environments, not copying.  At the same time it should not be forgotten that development needs to happen very close to the customers and be directly linked to the business targets. Getting constant feedback from customers is crucial for lean development. Lean is the name of the game.

3. Accept mistakes.
Mistakes are the spice of all doing, and they give you such learning that cannot be bought or gained anywhere else. So be open and experiment. True interest to outside world and its amazing opportunities is in the DNA of the most innovative companies worldwide.