WNPO2017-Cover

Executives worldwide want their organisations to be innovative. And, of course, news media firms always have been. Innovation – the process of transforming creative ideas into outputs with impact – has, and continues to be, the fuel that drives newsroom engines at every organisation. But wide-ranging changes compel us to rethink how we go about innovation in every part of our enterprises – across editorial, commercial, technology and operations. We also need to identify and develop new opportunities to sustain and grow our businesses.

Decisions about what to innovate and how to go about it fall largely to the company’s leadership. That is why WAN-IFRA has once again teamed up with Dr François Nel and Dr Coral Milburn-Curtis of the Innovation Research Group to survey decision-makers worldwide in 11 languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Persian, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

The perspective of this report is truly global. The 7th annual world news media innovation study had 235 responses from 68 countries across six continents: Africa, Asia, Australia/Oceania, Europe, North America, and South America.

By far the largest group of respondents, 43 percent, sit in C-suites, serve on boards, or own their companies. Other responses came from editorial, commercial, and technology managers, as well as from a very small number (2 percent) of consultants and academics.

The survey’s 22 questions look at four areas:

  1. The profile of respondents, including the nature and activities of their firm;
  2. Current revenue streams, financial performance during the past book year, and the anticipation of future revenue sources;
  3. Specific priorities for change and investment in the next year and in the medium term (3-5 years); and
  4. How leaders experience change and risk.

This 86-page report analyzes the responses in depth.

First, it reports back on the the current situation: how the respondents’ firms have performed financially during the past year, what the primary sources of those revenues are and the risks they face. Then, it reports on their short and medium-term outlooks, along with 10 key areas the respondents say their organisations need to change to achieve their aims. Finally, because respondents flagged the importance of their organisation’s capacity to innovate, it looks more closely at that issue.

In Chapter 4, it considers the building blocks of an innovation culture. It also uses advanced statistical methods to analyse the relationship between organisational culture and organisational success – and it points out the strong link between Innovation Role Models and company performance.

To provide additional insights and suggest further practical action points for consideration, the authors invited five guest analysts to contribute to this report.

Key takeaways

These are a few of the key takeaways from the survey results:

  • The biggest risk to future success is not seen to be challenges to business models, technology disruption, advertising declines, or political instability – but firms’ own reluctance to innovate.
  • When asked what is the single most important change that has to be implemented in their news organisations over the next year, the top response (21%) was Organisational Culture.
  • Although trading conditions are tough worldwide, 30 percent of nearly 250 decision-makers surveyed reported overall financial growth during the past financial year, while about 35 percent said there had been no change. This is the highest proportion of positive responses since the study began in 2009/10 in the wake of the global economic recession.
  • The outlook for the future success of media firms depends on the extent to which they can diversify their revenue streams. In the short term (next 12 months), 70 percent of respondents say they will need up to a third of their income to come from non-traditional sources (i.e. traditional advertising and existing content sales) to meet company revenue expectations.

The full report is available at http://www.wan-ifra.org/reports/2017/09/13/world-news-publishers-outlook-2017.

About the Author Innovation Research Group

The Innovation Research Group emerged from a partnership between two researchers affiliated to Green Templeton College, University of Oxford. Our backstory here: http://www.gtc.ox.ac.uk/news/news-articles/1864-world-media.html

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