World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers

Breaking silos with innovation

World News Publishing Focus

World News Publishing Focus
Your Guide to the Changing Media Landscape

Breaking silos with innovation

Too often publishing companies are rigid, organised in silos, slow to react and to innovate. At A&N Media, which comprises Metro, the Daily Mail, MailOnline, Northcliffe Media and more, it is Sam Duncan Brown’s job as Head of Innovation to make this new culture of innovation stick.

The idea behind InnovationLab is to implement new technologies that have the greatest business impact but come at a low cost.

In 2009 and 2010, Duncan Brown’s one-man show started to roll out a load of initiatives that he described as “puff” but were in “people’s faces.” Some of the ideas were A&N Media search which actually featured Google Search by it showing the unique content that A&N Media offered.

Over time, however, the concept has evolved from Business Process Innovation to that of Consumer Product Innovation.

The company turned to other industries for inspiration in this regard, such as vodafone, Starbucks, Virgin Atlantic, GlaxoSmithKline, etc. “We are so totally disinterested in what other media companies are doing to generate innovation and ideas for this,” he says. “These companies are real specialists.”

Subsequently, the company joined the forces of its strategy and planning team with its technology team and thus IdeasFactory was borne.

The entire company can participate in offering ideas, but there are a few parameters when proposing one, such as it must fit the brand, how does it impact revenue and consumers and a basic description.

The company created a website that shows the ideas, allowing staff to suggest, comment and more.

For such an initiative to work, he said you must offer:

  • Engagement: mainly encouragement from executives and without fear of reprisals.
  • Boundaries: need specific topics to actually keep the conversation and ideas on track. That sounds contrary to such an exercise, but he says it is necessary.
  • Feedback: Let staff offer ideas themselves.
  • Incentives: Participants are offered small prizes, but also training and ultimately a stake in the business if an idea really takes off. “We have had people practically get rich off this,” he says.



Dean Roper's picture

Dean Roper


2012-04-17 16:16

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