Data: 4 things publishers need to do

Every publisher has data, but some make better use of it than others. Here are some tips on how you can improve your performance.

By James Evelegh

Data: 4 things publishers need to do
Photograph: JR Korpa on Unsplash.

At the Publishing Show last week, I attended an interesting panel session: ‘Are publishers ready to use data to drive new business models, or is data just a tool to support decision making?’.

The panel was chaired by Magda Woods (And the robots) and included Karine Serfaty (chief data officer at The Economist) and Pedro Cosa (data general manager at News UK).

These are my takeaways on how publishers can better exploit their data:

  1. Define usage. Collecting data should not be a goal in itself. Data should not merely be seen as a by-product of what we do, but as something we should take control of – ‘data by design’ is the name of the game. You should define a measurement framework, an important part of which will be establishing your KPIs.
  2. Accelerate the process of cultural change. Data needs to be part of everyone’s job. To achieve that, data needs to be de-mystified and made more accessible. Data fluency across your organisation is the goal. Senior management needs to set an example by being data literate themselves and HR needs to bake data fluency into recruitment and training programmes.
  3. Give people the power to change things. Giving staff access to data but not letting them change anything can lead to deep frustration. This is often misunderstood by senior management.
  4. Use data to drive new product development. Once you have defined your data framework, improved your culture and generally deepened your relationship with your data, then the sunny uplands of new product development await. The exciting thing is that myriad new business opportunities will present themselves once you are in control of your data, many of which will be unforeseen at the start of the journey.

In short, every publisher has data; it’s those who take control of it that will reap the rewards.

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