From e-commerce, to e-health, to fintech, the digital revolution is making its way to Germany and shaking things up across all industries. Though research suggests the country is currently operating at only 10% of its digital potential, Germany is poised to fully embrace digitalization. And the opportunities are almost endless.
The media industry is one such industry on the brink of change. And Dominik Grau, Chief Innovation Officer at Ebner Media Group would know. He’s the digital guru leading Ebner—a 200-year-old, legacy business—through its own digital transformation journey. Today, he shares 4 tips for companies embarking on their digital transformation path.
1. Hire a team that thinks like your audience
From Dominik’s perspective, the digital revolution in Germany has helped established mobile as the king of content.
“For media, moving from print to digital to mobile has been a game changer. How people consume content is vastly different now,” says Dominik. “When we look at our youngest readers aged 18 to 25, I call it the ‘90,90,90’ rule; 90% of their media consumption is driven by mobile, 90% of content consumed is discovered via social media, and 90% of that content is video.”
Although the way young people consume content has changed, what they’re looking for has not. Dominik says they’re still hungry for great stories. And to tell those stories, you need the right team to understand this digital-savvy audience.
“The pressure is to have the right people internally,” Dominik explains. “You need people who live in the same ecosystem that your audience lives in. If your content is for millennials, you need a team of millennials that uses mobile devices and social media precisely like millennials do.”
“Always ask, ‘What is my audience doing? How are they changing? How have their habits changed? How can we update our approach to be more in line with these new habits?’“—Dominik Grau, Chief Innovation Officer at Ebner Media Group
2. Move your team to the cloud
This audience-centric mindset inspired Dominik to equip his team with the latest technology—technology they’re accustomed to—so they can collaborate efficiently across countries and cities.
Enter the cloud.
Dominik says the cloud is essential to running such a large, diversified company. Physical paper just doesn’t cut it anymore.
“We have nine offices in Germany alone and more around the world,” says Dominik. “We’re fragmented, and you can’t run a company like that based on paper. You need digital and cloud-based workflows to be successful. That strategy starts with your content production workflows, but doesn’t stop there. We have even moved all our bookkeeping into the cloud.”
A success story of a traditional-gone-digital organization, Ebner is more than open to embracing future innovations to engage its audiences.
“One example: our music publishing group could build a mobile app with AR or VR components, send an editor to a concert to shoot 360˚ videos live on stage,” says Dominik. “Then our audience, with the right devices, will be able to feel like they are on stage with the musicians.”
3. Build an appetite for change inside your business
Dominik says internal communication is the next critical piece of successful digital transformation.
“Once you understand what’s at stake, and what the audience wants, start the internal communication, so you can get the buy-in underway,” he points out. “In the early days, 75% of my time was spent communicating with teams around the world. Communication is key to any digital transformation strategy.”
With consistent and effective internal communication, openness toward digital transformation started to build at Ebner.
“We started by saying to board members, ‘here is the information you need,’ and asking ‘what are your concerns?’” says Dominik. “From there we transformed the entire board, and the culture started to change. We presented the facts and convinced them change was necessary. Once we had buy in from the board we established the New Ebner Academy, which educated our employees on the key elements of our transformation.”
4. Invest in the right technology and service providers
Gaining insight into what your audience wants and building an appetite for change among internal company leaders is a critical part of any digital transformation strategy, Dominik notes. But he emphasizes the importance of intentional tactical execution, as well.
“The tactical part of digital transformation though comes from selecting the right technology and service providers to deliver it,” he says. “At Ebner, we have a standard monthly evaluation of the company, constantly asking ‘what is it that we need to make this work’ and ‘what’s available on the market’. From that we drill down our list into a top three, then work on a much deeper evaluation of them. Once that’s done, we go into a trial phase. Whenever we test tools, we ensure we lock down the feedback from our users. They tell us what they think, we evaluate the success, then we either push the trial deeper, or make the purchase. Everything is very much feedback based.”
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