A recent article in CIO Magazine entitled “What CEO’s Expect” and sub-titled “Chief Executives want CIO’s who look outside the company walls to find new business opportunities” is certainly a move in the right direction but unfortunately not a perspective shared by many CEO’s. Here is an example from my own experience as the CIO of a major mid-western publisher.
Back in the late ‘90’s, the Internet was just beginning to evolve as a major new medium for publishers. The general wisdom was magazines need to have a web site but they shouldn’t consider electronic publishing of the magazine. For purely business reasons this never made sense to me for several reasons.
First and foremost, there was the clear opportunity to substantially change the cost model for publishing a magazine. Production cost for printing paper and ink and distribution cost including postage and single copy sales discounts would be totally eliminated. Added to these measurable cost savings:
· Lower costs can be translated into lower subscription and single copy prices presenting an opportunity to boost circulation which also translates to greater advertising revenues,
· Electronic publishing over the Internet opens up a global market also increasing circulation and advertising revenue opportunities,
· Editors can embed links to additional background materials increasing the value of the editorial content,
· Advertisers can embed links in their adds and offer readers incentives to click and buy, and
· Readers can be electronically notified of new editions through e-mail and can store editions electronically.
Are these substantial opportunities to increase revenues, expand markets and lower operating cost strategic? I certainly think so but alas there were no takers. Even today, with the notable exception of CIO Magazine which now offers a complete electronic edition of the magazine, there are few, if any, magazines embracing an electronic publishing strategy.
The only objection I ever heard to even exploring the idea of electronic publishing was that the readers wouldn’t be interested in an electronic version of the magazine. I don’t know if this is true but it would be interesting to learn how many readers of CIO Magazine have converted, since we can presume they are a technology savvy audience. Moreover the marketplace is clearly evolving in these directions with new devices like iPad, Nook and Kindle. I have read the Harvard Business Review on Nook but the design was so bad I dropped my subscription. They should check out CIO Magazine’s electronic version, which is top notch.
The point here is simply while the CIO needs to provide thought leadership on how technology can be applied to the business, the business leaders need be more open and less skeptical of these new ideas. It turns out that change is challenging to everyone, including the CEO.