Whether you’ve scratched your head at the phrase “future-proof” or you use it regularly in conversation, the concept is simple. Future-proofing refers to cultivating strategies and techniques, as well as harnessing tools, to enhance your organization’s adaptability and lessen the impact future threats may have on your business.
The global coronavirus pandemic has swiftly and severely reminded our society that life is unpredictable. Trends and technology pass in and out of the spotlight, markets boom and bust, and the specter of competition can emerge on your company’s radar at any moment.
In the media industry, shifts in both culture and technology have altered the way we perceive and consume news. This article will cover some of those major changes as well as the industry’s reactions to them, and address how technology can help you future-proof your own media business.
A timeline of change in the media industry
Massive transformation has occurred within the media industry over the past several decades. Here are a few of the inventions that literally changed our lives and this industry.
Twenty-five years ago, 50 million devices around the globe were connected to the internet. Today, that number has exploded to 7 billion. When households first began to adopt internet service in widespread numbers, the television industry worried it would mean their demise—just as television was predicted to wipe out books. Obviously, neither happened.
On the contrary, the internet has given rise to a huge variety of TV shows as well as new distribution platforms such as Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Crave, Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, YouTube, and others. There are even more business deals yet to be made.
The internet has also irreversibly changed the face of news media and the way audiences consume news. Information is more accessible now than ever (some would say it’s almost inescapable), yet societal trust in the accuracy and objectivity of news sources is questionable at best. Competition among media outlets is also increasing, which can have negative effects on the quality of journalism as news organizations scramble to get their scoops.
However, the scene isn’t all doom and gloom. More players on the media landscape, and greater access to information, can help increase diversity and representation in the industry as it works to eliminate bias. This objective is complex, and must be sought after with intention and care—but, it’s arguably more achievable now than ever before.
It may come as a surprise that smartphones were invented 28 years ago. Once viewed as luxury items, these devices that have become an integral part of our daily lives weren’t always small and sleek—and 77% of the American population certainly didn’t own one like they do today.
The modern-day smartphone has transformed the way people access and consume news, as well as how reporters and media outlets curate and share information. As “bite-sized” news articles grow in popularity, journalists’ writing styles have been forced to shift along with readers’ preferences.
Smartphone users in the U.S. and U.K. alike report that they “seek the news in ‘hidden minutes,’ which they define as ‘a 30-second to three-minute window that they didn’t even know they’d have,” according to research referenced in Forbes. This means media outlets are under pressure to publish headlines that drive clicks.
Nonetheless, smartphones have also had positive impacts on the media industry. The Apple News Plus app, which launched in March 2019, has expanded the reach of more than 300 newspapers and magazines—all for $9.99 a month. This flat fee includes access to premium subscriptions to titles like The Wall Street Journal and National Geographic. Apple expects the new app to follow in the footsteps of Apple News, the world’s top news app. “It’s critical that it’s trusted,” CEO Tim Cook has said.
September 2006 was another pivotal moment in our society, when Facebook opened its platform to the world. This social media behemoth, along with others that came on the scene between 2003 and 2011 such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat, has profoundly changed our news consumption habits. Instead of sitting down to watch the evening news on TV, many people catch up on current events by scrolling through their social media feeds.
Social media algorithms have created what is often described as an “echo chamber”, where the articles people see in their social feeds are those that have received likes, comments, and shares from other people in their networks. Audiences must actively work to seek out diverse points of view.
However, like the internet and smartphones, the invention of social media has made news more accessible to greater numbers of people. It has also given audiences a voice, and the ability to hold corporations—including news organizations—to account while the world watches on viral posts and comment threads. This kind of dialogue, as long as it’s productive, is an opportunity for brands to truly listen to their stakeholders and excel as a result.
How technology helps you future-proof
It’s been said many times that change is the only constant, and this is as true when it comes to technology as it is to life. Artificial intelligence and machine learning may seem futuristic, but they’re far from the end of the road in terms of the new technologies we’ll see within our lifetime. To leverage these developments, companies must recognize that the way to succeed is to become as adaptable as possible, regardless of any specific tech trend.
This adaptability mindset means that organizations should select technology solutions based on their ability to adjust to business requirements in real time, with an eye on potential future challenges and needs.
Future-proofing your organization
Journalism will always be rooted in objectivity and excellent storytelling from various perspectives. However, the media industry must be able to adapt in the face of watershed events like the invention of the internet, smartphones, and social media. Therefore, it’s crucial that news organizations choose technology solutions that will make adaptation easier. Learn how an expert partner like Lineup can help your business future-proof for success by exploring our services.