How often has your company made a significant investment in a new
business solution that was supposed to solve all your problems yet
instead turned out to be too complicated or impractical and faded from
memory like a bad Christmas gift? At the recent FOLIO: Publishing
Summit in March, Jerry Okabe, vice president of audience marketing with
Prism Business Media, outlined things to watch out for when building a
database, based on his experience at Miller Freeman. Okabe’s tips could
well cover almost any "business solution," and we’ve listed them below.
1. QUANTITY RETURN ON INVESTMENT.
While it cost Miller Freeman $250,000 to build a database, no one determined
what sort of return they should expect once it launched.
2. FACTORS IN COSTS OF ONGOING MAINTENANCE.
Since Miller Freeman hadn’t factored in an expectation on return, the
company was reluctant to further invest in the product after launch.
Within months, the database was next to useless.
3. IDENTIFY INTERNAL USERS.
While Miller Freeman’s upper management was on board with the database
development, no one told the people who would actually use it;editors,
salespeople, circulators. Staff received no training on the database
and many didn’t bother to use it once it became available.
4. REIN IN OFFICE POLITICS.
No matter how big or small your company is, territorial squabbles will pop
up. At Miller Freeman, two sister jewelry magazines;one based in Hong
Kong, the other in Tel Aviv;didn’t get along and refused to share their
data with each other. It’s a problem Okabe still sees today at Prism.
"The trade show group is reluctant to share their names with anyone
else;even though they got most of their names from subscriber lists,"
5. BIGGER ISN’T NECESSARILY BETTER.
While this is the most database-specific of Okabe’s tips, it still rings true
for other business solutions. If there are many components to the
solution, break it into smaller pieces that are easily digested by the