Brilliant Reads: how organisations are changing for the future
Welcome to Brilliant Reads. This week we’re focusing on change. How change can help organisations succeed in the digital age, what changes need to be put in place for a future where data and machine learning present new opportunities, and how platforms are changing to provide new and/or potentially controversial user experiences.
Nurture energetic, engaging, and explorative communication
Creating a company culture that enables your teams to succeed is a complex balancing act; it requires introspection, discussion and long-term planning.
In this article, friend of Brilliant Noise, Neil Perkin, explains that energetic, engaging and explorative communication is often more important than conventional team attributes (e.g. background, personality or skills) for ensuring team success. What is critical for high performance teams is enabling a culture that promotes direct, equal and open communication.
Medium, 3 minutes
How a change in focus is encouraging growth for The Economist
Online publishers make a lot of revenue from advertising, often far more than they do from their readership. The Economist, however, has been changing its long-term strategic focus from ad-based revenue to growing their subscriber base.
In this interview, CMO for The Economist and MD of its circulation business, Michael Brunt, discusses how they have achieved this change. Understanding the customer journeys plays a key role in the long-term success of this strategy. It is already returning greater numbers of subscribers, who are willing to pay more for high-quality journalism, something that has become particularly pertinent in the last year.
One key decision in implementing this strategy was the appointment of Chief Customer Journey Officer Iain Noakes, who spoke about his new role at our Customer Journey Mapping event last month.
CMO, 7 minutes
Be proactively, perceptively transparent
Customers today expect transparency and honesty from brands and service providers. This is especially true when they’re handling sensitive information. Google have received criticism over a lack of clarity on data they held about patients across three Royal Free NHS Trust hospitals in London. The data was used for a DeepMind Health project aiming to detect and alert GPs to kidney failure. As well as extensive medical data, they also had a record of who had visited patients, and when. Though everything was legal, the perceived lack of transparency on their part cast them and the project in a negative light.
To address this, they announced last week that a Verifiable Data Audit for DeepMind Health will be built over the next year. This will use a blockchain to store data, an approach used by Bitcoin to solve the ‘double spending problem’. This means that usage data, once written, cannot be overwritten or deleted. In essence, this will provide a time-stamped record of what data was used and when it was accessed that can be verified.
Rather than providing transparency in response to criticism, organisations now need to be transparent about their processes from the outset. A recent example comes from challenger bank Monzo, whose service outage at the weekend left users without access to money in their accounts. This should be a negative experience for the customer, right?
However, Monzo managed to turn this into a positive customer experience. They communicated honestly with customers on the platform and on social media channels to keep them updated on what had happened and when they could expect the service to be up and running again. The speed and transparency with which they handled the situation gives credence to their business model over those of the traditional banks, that are notoriously bad at dealing with similar situations.
The Verge, 3 minutes
Econsultancy, 4 minutes
A new medium for Medium
A beginning, a middle, and an end: the traditional boundaries between which a story is told. But what if stories didn’t need to have a middle or an end? With ‘Series’, Medium are designing a new way for telling, and for reading stories.
From a writer’s perspective, the mobile platform will allow you to tell stories that develop over time, with more complex ideas and evolving contexts. More importantly, it encourages long-term engagement with readers. As a reader, you can choose which series to follow, receive push notifications when a new part of a series has been added, let the writer know directly that you love their work by sending them ‘claps’, and the platform saves your place in a series just like a bookmark.
Medium, 2 minutes
Caged newsfeeds: Twitter’s ‘algorithmic timeline’
In a bid to save itself from stagnating user engagement, halting revenue and falling stock, Twitter began changing its traditional timeline format in March last year. They started implementing an ‘algorithmic timeline’ that means you no longer see the traditional reverse-ordered timeline when you open the platform, but instead a subtly ranked timeline based on what the algorithm learns about your, and other users’, engagement.
The outcome a year later? They have seen a boost in current user engagement across all of their key metrics, but a disappointing ROI in terms of gaining new users. The Facebook-like tack of curating the social experience people have on the platform might not work for Twitter for two reasons. Firstly, Twitter is seen as a real-time news source that has increasingly been used by people to debunk false information and secondly, in the fight against so-called ‘fake news’, Twitter needs to be careful with how it proceeds in curating the information that people are exposed to. If we’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s that people need to receive a wide breadth of information to enable an open, critical evaluation of current events.
Slate, 21 minutes