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B-To-B Tech Outlook

Execs reveal tech investment priorities to support changing media models.



By Bill Mickey
05/01/2013

The b-to-b media mix is shifting. Consumers are accessing content on their own terms from a variety of platforms, marketers are redirecting their spending accordingly and publishers are altering their business models to attract and support the best opportunities. Here, FOLIO: convened some of b-to-b’s top leadership to provide an in-their-own-words look at how they’re prioritizing their capital investments in IT and other technology to support content creation, distribution and sales.

Ted Bahr
Co-Founder and President, BZ Media

Our primary investments in technology right now are people. We have been moving to consolidate our databases into the ‘One Database To Rule Them All’ and have found that to be a difficult challenge. There is a universal challenge in gathering data from different sources and coding it to match our central database. We have data coming in from email vendors, event registration companies, a circulation fulfillment house and our own internal lead generation systems.

In the meantime, we are adding another software developer and have found that the market has improved—for them not for us! But it’s the future. We have also hired a dedicated Internet marketing manager who is completely focused on advancing our SEO and SEM initiatives. This replaces a more general overall marketing manager. We feel we need the firepower trained directly on the web without any distractions from other marketing activities.

John Siefert
CEO, Virgo Publishing

We are currently investing in people, platforms and cloud services to streamline data delivery to any device, enable proper redundancy/failover of our systems, burst around online point-in-time content and optimize data analytics and lead-gen. On the people side, we have hired and promoted a number of web developers on the front end (design/optimization) and the back end (people with chops in development within our CMS system and DBA’s that understand how to architect and extract data). In 2012, instead  of buying a high-end lead management system, we created our own which automates lead capture and delivery, enabling our program managers in marketing services to skip 3 or 4 steps in the lead delivery process.

We are also seeing a lot of use around video on mobile device platforms, especially for our Business Value Toolbox from Channel Partners and our SupplySide Beverage Insights site—we have optimized the mobile version of the site, enabling the user to be greeted with the video content, however, we will be doing more here through the year. We see the mobile video category as a key to our continued global expansion.

Bill Carter
CEO, ALM

ALM is investing more capital this year than in the previous couple years. These investments align around clear strategic priorities that allow ALM to deliver a better reader experience, produce content in greater volume, and do it at a lower cost. We believe by focusing on these core capabilities, we’ll create a differentiated experience for our customers. They include:

Content Automation: Using data and technology that looks at structured content and automates the creation of articles and summaries. We have two initiatives in this area, and with these tools will be able to increase the volume of content we produce on a daily basis.

Personalization through Big Data enhancements to Audience Database: ALM serves hundreds of thousands of b-to-b customers each month, but by using big data to enhance our audience database with behavioral data we can get a clearer picture of our readers, allowing us to better personalize our content (and ultimately promotional offers).

Mobile: Over the past year, mobile traffic to ALM content has doubled. We’re making investments to ensure that our sites are optimized for mobile, our eNewsletters are mobile aware, and that we offer apps for the leading mobile platforms.

CMS: As the industry moves toward more platforms, it’s essential to streamline and optimize the way content gets published. ALM is investing in technology to ensure that it is easy for us to create and post content with minimal effort and no duplication in the process.

Peter Goldstone
CEO, Hanley Wood

As we progress with our digital transformation, making the right investments in enabling technology is critical. We are putting more capital to work on technology solutions today than at any time in our recent past.

Hanley Wood is now focusing on three primary technology investments:
 
1. Producing content more efficiently
And with greater impact for our audiences. Our new ‘radar desk’ content aggregation format is quickly developing and curating content across multiple audiences and platforms. User generated content is now a core element of our strategy—giving our audience more control in the process.

2. Streamlining our operational infrastructure to be more efficient.
A new company-wide CRM and marketing automation system will come online later this year. Editorial operations in both digital and print are now consolidated.

3. Investing in the advertiser/client proposition is a top priority.
A new, consolidated audience database is in development, which will allow the company to build a powerful demand generation platform and shape the framework for big data audience extension.

Jasmine Alexander
Senior Vice President, CIO, Penton

Our technology strategy is to invest once in building platforms and tools, then deploy many times across our multiple verticals.

Specifically, we have invested heavily in a company-wide CMS built on Drupal. We have migrated all of our 60-plus content sites to this platform. And we are continuously rolling out new features as business models around content evolve.

We also are experimenting with cloud-based solutions, big data and visualization technology, MongoDB and several other new technologies that are now available or coming to market.

Penton also is leveraging mobile technologies. Our WealthManagement.com team introduced a paid iPad app with workflow functionality around aggregated and original content.

The underlying theme here is that as technology changes the way Penton does business, it’s also changing our IT culture. We’re thinking tech-forward, and behaving much more like a software company than a media company.

Neal Vitale
President and CEO, 1105 Media, Inc.

We have been investing for a long time in our digital capabilities, which has helped us grow in that area by double digits in each of the last several years. We recently completed an update to our CMS (Sitecore). We haven’t necessarily invested in other proprietary systems or platforms, but rather made sure that our overall IT infrastructure was robust enough to support expansion areas like video. And we are investigating a variety of options for tablet publishing, CRM, marketing automation, lead scoring and the like. I feel that we are in a long evolutionary process where we incrementally improve and refine our technology, as opposed to making any radical change or major one-off capital investment.

By Bill Mickey
05/01/2013







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