The Idea Dude


Monday, March 05, 2007

The emperor's new clothes

Lots of comments in the blogosphere about USAToday's foray into social networking.. Comments, personal spaces, avatars, conversations, they certainly have all the right features to claim a legitimate move into the Web 2.0 space. There's been much discussion about how newspapers are going online after facing tough times in the publishing business. What will ultimately decide whether they make a successful transition is not going to be based on technology but the culture of the organization.

Those of us who lived through the rise of CRM software will remember how enterprises paid millions of dollars to acquire customer relationship management software apparently to connect to customers better. I say apparently because while the spirit was willing, the culture was weak. Many of the millions spent was simply wasted as organizations were not able to increase profits or know their customers better. Why? in many cases, the company culture wasn't customer centric, so having the right technology enablers was simply a waste of time. If your employees never strived to know their customers and create superb customer experiences, having the tools to do it was moot.

I use this example because none of any of the magazines or newspapers I have ever subscribed to in my entire life has ever sought to create a customer relationship with me. To all of them, I was a subscriber with a subscriber number. They never knew what articles I read, why I subscribed or unsubscribed. Even the jargon is an important pointer to which camp they lie. Readership vs communities, publications vs conversations, subscribers vs members, fact vs opinion, reporters vs bloggers. So will USAToday or any other newspaper succeed? Only time will tell, but I predict many will fail simply because buying a new hammer doesn't make you a carpenter.


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