How Tamedia’s IT team is building an editorial system for the future

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The organization’s IT team is building a future-proof infrastructure, as part of its strategy to thrive as print continues its slow and steady decline.

Tamedia is the largest media group in Switzerland, reaching two thirds of the country’s 8.5 million population through one of its 30+ titles. In this post we will share a few insights from their journey in building what they have called the Tamedia Editorial Cloud.

Standardize, optimize, harmonize, and automate 

From a technology perspective, the organization has centralized its IT capabilities under a Group CIO. This team is responsible for building solutions that can be scaled across titles and centralize what were previously channel-specific solutions. The goal is to build a system that will provide an easy and interconnected platform for their reporters and content creators to create and distribute great stories. During this process, the IT team has adopted the mantra; “standardize, optimize, harmonize, and automate.”

The biggest challenge is usability 

The IT team’s goal is to ensure it is future proof by building a cloud-based infrastructure. A key challenge is integrating digital and print tools on one platform. The team is investing in combining tools and building an elegant system. But while this is a challenge, the greatest challenge is a far more human issue - usability. 

While a core component of Tamedia’s vision is a seamlessly integrated platform, ensuring that users do not need to jump across or log in to different places to work, they found that this alone is not enough. Unless a task is intuitive and fast, human nature will kick in and people will go to Google Docs or another route to do their thing. 

Tamedia uses WoodWing Enterprise Aurora to ensure its writers can write stories for online and print in the same place, so writers can add the photos, videos, metadata, tagging, and so on that they need. But this is not enough. Considerations such as loading speed, rendering print previews quickly, and optimizing workflows for as few clicks as possible have also been important considerations to ensure the best user experience possible.

Think brand neutral, not just channel neutral

A channel neutral approach to content creation is something WoodWing has advocated for a number of years. As a publisher with a number of titles, Tamedia has taken this step further and implemented a brand neutral approach to all content that does not need to be localized, such as international news, business, and so on. 

To do this on a technical level with as much efficiency as possible, Tamedia has harmonized page layouts in print and automated the process to change logos, and colors, while keeping the content the same. This means production teams can put images straight into print without any InDesign activity required, resulting in multiple pages being created with a click.

tamedia_future_editorial_system.jpg

Tamedia’s IT team takes the second approach to iterate its system and improve usability.

Implementing a mobile-first workflow

There are two key challenges that together is forcing Tamedia to rethink its processes and tools around mobile. 

  • Mobile is more than a responsive web page. It includes interactive graphics, different article lengths, video, and so on. Furthermore, it offers interesting opportunities to personalize content based on location or frequency of use. These are things that are irrelevant for print. 
  • The world is increasingly recorded real time, viewed, and consumed on mobile. And news consumption is still shifting to mobile.

A mobile-first world is a reality for most consumers. But many publishers are still operating on a print-first workflow, adapting content for online, and adding mobile as a responsive version of the online article. 

Tamedia is now putting mobile front and center of its workflow and tooling - bypassing a channel-neutral approach and adopting a mobile-first workflow that can support all the mobile-specific challenges above. This means an ongoing transformation in technology, coupled with careful change management.

Cause for optimism

The last decade has seen huge challenges and transformation in the publishing industry. As we near the end of the decade, there are some bright spots that give some cause for optimism. For example, European publishers are reinvesting for growth, according to FIPP Innovation in Media Report. 

The scale of transformation is still vast and ongoing. But the key message takeaway is that for publishers that invest in technology, an exciting future awaits. 

You can see the full presentation from Tamedia at the WoodWing Xperience here:

 

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Urs Felber, Geschäftsführer / VRP
Urs
Felber
Managing Director / Chair of the Board of Directors
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