Digital Innovation: The Case Of Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Table of Contents
TOC o “1-3” h z u Executive Summary PAGEREF _Toc367565612 h 31.0 Background of Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) PAGEREF _Toc367565613 h 42.0 Elements of Strategic Planning Process PAGEREF _Toc367565614 h 53.0 Analysis of Issues and Problems and their Potential Influence on ABC PAGEREF _Toc367565615 h 54.0 Barriers for Digital Innovation for ABC PAGEREF _Toc367565616 h 75.0 Alignment of Strategic Goals with Digital Innovation and Processes PAGEREF _Toc367565617 h 86.0 Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc367565618 h 9References PAGEREF _Toc367565619 h 11
Executive SummaryAustralian broadcasting corporation is a provider of radio, mobile and online broadcast services that is undergoing transformation to become a media innovator. The broadcaster has made use of digital technology platforms to reach its audience globally. The greatest challenge for ABC in achieving this transformation is management of innovation though well-established strategies. The paper will analyse the innovation issues facing ABC using the phases of innovation; discovery phase, incubation phase, acceleration phase and scale phase. Various issues potentially influence ABC’s challenge in innovation management: management, consumer insight and use of wrong measure of impact of innovation. The barriers of innovation for ABC are risk avoidance, time and organizational settings factors. To solve innovation management challenges facing ABC can be solved by aligning its strategic goals of value-based, innovation, audience-focused, efficient and high quality with its innovation strategy.
Background of Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)Australian broadcasting corporation is a government owned Broadcasting Corporation and is Australia’s national public broadcaster. It was founded in 1929 and provides radio, online and mobile broadcast services. With the media sector changing rapidly, ABC is transforming from a national broadcaster into a media innovator. Digital technology has helped ABC with new platforms and tools to reach their audiences from across the world.
ABC is responsible for integrating online activities with traditional broadcasting. This is reflected in the increasing consumption patterns of digital media (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2009). The broadcaster also instituted an innovation division to develop its content, platform distribution and audience connections. The structural changes made by ABC made it the most innovative and flexible media organization in Australia. It was one of the first organizations to adopt social media into its structures. ABC’s digital innovations include:
“ABC Earth”- it was first launched in 2008. This innovation was conceived as a a trial test to measure the audiences’ interest in the presentation of ABC content, using Google Earth as a platform. An ABC “layer” could be downloaded into personal computers which contained a built in Google Earth, in which content from the broadcasting corporation would be updated automatically within a premeditated period of time. The users could use this to zoom into parts of the country that were of interest to them and get news via text and video updates (Commonwealth of Australia, 2009).
ABC iView – is the ideal version of internet television, which was developed as a catch-up television service for its audience.
However, the management of the innovation through established policies has been a major problem to ABC. This culminated in the selling of Google maps idea to Google.
Elements of Strategic Planning ProcessDiscovery Phase – This phase is mainly about the ideas and the problems that are identified, selected and screened. This information is sourced from employees, suppliers, experts, consumers and partners of ABC.
Incubation Phase – This is the phase where good ideas are developed, tested and refined to check if they make business sense and are feasible. The main purpose of this phase is to develop a business case for the organisation.
Acceleration Phase – This is the phase where formal structures and practices are instituted as innovation moves towards being understood by the organisation as a whole. In this phase they carry out pilot programmes to test the commercial feasibility of the product in the market.
Scale Phase – This is the phase where the actual innovation is integrated fully into the organisation’s processes and operations. This phase also includes mass marketing and commercialisation of the innovation.
Analysis of Issues and Problems and their Potential Influence on ABCThe major problem or issue with ABC and its management of its innovation lies with its management. The management of ABC consists of 5-7 directors and a managing director and the appointments are done according to the provisions given in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation Act 1983, (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2009). The government takes advantage of this provision and used it as a tool to pay for favours. This has led to the appointment of individuals that are not competent and do not have the proper qualifications to take up managerial jobs. The appointment of individuals without merit has caused the organisation to endure turbulent times in the ever changing media sector. This has led to the implementation of poor management policies culminating into a culture of poor governance. In the long run, the corporation has experienced a massive migration of several high profile icons to rival companies. This situation has cast a dark shadow over the corporation even on its media content – it is often seen to be biased towards the coverage current affairs, economic issues and members of parliament. The political influence in the organisation is also amplified due to the fact that many of its leaders have shifted gears from their leadership roles into politics. This can be seen in the circumstances surrounding the sale of one of the corporation’s original innovations (Google maps) to Google.
ABC normally uses market share, profits and revenue as measures for innovation because they are easy to measure. This is the usually the wrong basis to measure the impact of innovation on the strategic planning process. The true value is usually based on intangibles such as knowledge, reputation, leadership and attractiveness to talent (Palmer & Kaplan, 2007). Most innovations are hard to explain in terms of returns on an investment opportunity. Innovations that have the potential of creating or disrupting the status quo in markets may suffer when put against pedestrian projects as they do not pass through a standard budgeting process. Another significant issue to digital innovations is weak brand or positioning strategies by the organisation (Price Waterhouse Coopers, 2011). If the strategy reflects market differentiation and is inspired by the consumer, chances of success increase drastically.
Consumer insight is another issue to innovation for ABC. It is crucial in that it is invaluable in the role it plays in helping the innovators address unmet needs with an aim of providing a basis for a focused and tighter brand strategy. Most ideas are devised without looking into the psychology of the consumer to reflect on new insights to foster competition. Usually getting start-up money for innovation means that money is taken away from an existing programme (Palmer & Kaplan, 2007). Annual funding cycles are also problematic because it does not match-up with real time opportunities. Innovations usually need seed money and broader thinking to survive or they will be starved out of existence.
Barriers for Digital Innovation for ABCEffecting digital innovations within the organizations structures is not an easy obtainable objective. The checks and balances within the innovative process help make sure that sub-standard ideas do not precede. However, there are fewer rigors in the need to incorporate a level of creativity and inspiration to products or services that are already in the market (Price Waterhouse Coopers, 2011). At each level of ABC management there are operations dynamics which could potentially resist proposed change. In most cases, the idea generation part does not proceed past a few people in a room. Although this can work in processes such as making marginal adjustments on existing products or services, it does not have enough fodder to foster real leaps of imagination and creativity.
One of the major barriers of digital innovation is risk avoidance. Most organisations will allocate resources to find out the negative effects of the digital innovation. Organisational culture contributes to a large extent to this kind of mentality because it does not recognise that, progress is only made through calculated risk. Most of the times organisations will try to save “face” to sustain and protect themselves (Palmer & Kaplan, 2007). This is one of the major reasons why boundaries and assignment of responsibilities is set-up. Innovations tend to expound on existing boundaries, create new ones, and thus creating a tense atmosphere with competing interests.
Within an organizational setting, time is a precious commodity. Much of the time within the organization is usually accounted for, thus time for innovations is usually and with the creation of the digital innovation division at ABC, this barrier is significantly minimized (Price Waterhouse Coopers, 2011). This is because they have time to think outside the box and come up with alternatives to existing problems or issues.
Alignment of Strategic Goals with Digital Innovation and ProcessesABC has identified a couple of key strategies which will help foster the achievement its goals and objectives (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2009). Through its innovative process, ABC has aligned its strategic goals and vision, in an attempt to capitalize on the market. The organization’s strategic goals and vision include:
Innovation – the company aims to foster a culture of creativity and experimentation within its structures. The company will take advantage of emerging devices and platforms to deliver relevant content to the audience. The company intends to build agile business capabilities that are flexible enough to, anticipate and respond to change (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2009). The company also intends to expand its reputation as one of the innovation leaders in Australian media.
High Quality – ABC will deliver distinctive content that is trustworthy, balanced and independent (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2009). The company intends to frequently review and to assess performance standards against set benchmarks.
Value-Based – The Corporation intends to embrace diversity in content strategies and recruitment (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2009). The company will also focus on the importance of how results are achieved and implement the ABC reconciliation plan.
Efficient – The corporation will operate within the best practice processes by continuously evaluating activities for effectiveness. It will also ensure that the company’s capabilities are aligned with audience strategies (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2009). The company will ensure that there is equitable distribution of resources in order to contribute to the long term sustainability of the organization.
Audience focused – Implement a content strategy that will reach (across all platforms) at least 70% of Australians. The company will also implement a content strategy that is focused on developing international audiences in selected target markets (Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 2009). Provide relevant and useful content to the audience and build audience engagement with ABC using the various platforms and devices.
6. 0 ConclusionABC has set a trend in its effort to transform a government controlled media house to an innovation leader. In its efforts to power innovation, the institution has suffered major drawbacks due to lack of proper management of its innovation. The institution should change its management structure, strategies and policies in a way that promotes creativity and innovation. The company should also root for risk management strategy instead of risk avoidance that prevents the company from advancing innovation. The government should also align its innovation strategies with organizational goals. For instance, innovation tools should be customer-focussed.
ReferencesAustralian Broadcasting Corporation. (2009). ABC Funding Boost 2009–2012. ABC Funding Boost 2009–2012, 19-18.
Commonwealth of Australia. (2009). Australia’s Digital Economy: Future Directions final. Commonwealth of Australia 2009.
Derrick Palmer & Soren Kaplan. (2007). A framework for strategic innovation: blending strategy and creative exploration to discover future business opportunities. Innovation Point LLC.
Price Waterhouse Coopers. (2011).Demystifying innovation Take down the barriers to new growth. Price Waterhouse Coopers.