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“Disruptive Technologies & their impact on Journalism, Marketing and Advertising: The Barbados Today Model”

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The Caribbean Digital & New Media Conference 2016 sought to dispel the myth that social media marketing is just a fad. The conference focused on digital marketing and social media management as an effective advertising tool. Kaymar Jordan in her keynote address examined a new business model which has utilized digital marketing and social media management resulting in a disruptive shift within the media industry. That business model is the media house, Barbados Today Inc.

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“Disruptive Technologies & their impact on Journalism, Marketing and Advertising: The Barbados Today Model”

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  2. 2. 2 “Disruptive Technologies & their impact on Journalism, Marketing and Advertising: The Barbados Today Model” By Kaymar Jordan CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Barbados Today Presented at The Caribbean Digital & New Media Conference 2017 February 17, 2016 Savannah Beach Hotel, Barbados Mr. Ian Walcott, Partner Consultant of Global Expert Systems, Professor Eddy Ventose of the University of the West Indies, Dr. John Hunte, lecturer, University of the West Indies, the Yellow Pages team, the Barbados TODAY team, sponsors, specially invited guests, ladies and gentlemen.
  3. 3. 3 Introduction I am here this morning to tell you the story (it is not a fable, it is a true- true story of a six-year-old child who I have come to love as very my own. This child started out with nothing more than a big heart and a sling this big (makes the shape of the small), and because of his diminutive size, at first when he entered the room, no one took him seriously --- Not the security guard at the door, not the receptionist and especially not the roaring giants upstairs in the boardroom, who laughed and mocked the so called upstart, who they felt didn't stand a chance in hell of survival. In fact, his arrival was greeted with one long Bajan chupse, followed by, 'where he think he going with that?'. After all, they were the giants, they had been doing this thing for 40 odd years and what they have forgotten, he would now have learnt – or so they thought! Equally comforting to them was the fact that customers had traditionally come to them, especially on Sundays, and their product was now like what economists call a “giffen” good – like bread and milk and cheese - something that Bajans just can’t do without since the only way of knowing what was going on in Barbados was through them. However, this made them complacent and just as the biblical story in the book of Samuel ends with Goliath of Gath, the giant Philistine warrior, being defeated by the young David, the future king of Israel, the six-year old with the small but powerful sling swung it and left them buckling with a big black eye. By now you should have figured out that the six-year-old I speak of, is Barbados Today Inc., and the moral of story is one which not only our competitors, but also you our valued clients, readers and viewers, should sit up and take note of. It is, ‘beware the “disruptive” child’. And I am not talking here about the Lord Evil type of disruptive child.
  4. 4. 4 Understanding Disruptive Technologies It’s really the type of child that Clayton M. Christensen, the Harvard Business School professor spoke of. The one with the sling, which is really the “disruptive technology”, a new emerging technology that unexpectedly displaces an established one. In the Barbados TODAY context, the printing press has been displaced by online digital newspapers and Internet-based technologies that include Cloud Solutions and the platforms that we have come to know as Social Media. It is that group of disruptive technologies that is also changing the way business is done in virtually all facets of life. In fact, since the early 2000s the world has been riding a technological wave that is bigger than those that Chelsea Tuach likes to conquer down Bathsheba. The disruptive wave has led to significant displacement in tourism, manufacturing, services, and especially finance for persons like myself who don’t ever want to see the inside of a commercial bank ever again; those of us who abhor waiting in line; and can’t tell you the last time we visited a travel agency to book a flight. In fact, Christensen first used this term “disruptive technologies” in his 1997 best-selling book, entitled, “The Innovator's Dilemma”. Back then, IBM was king and who would have thought that 20 years later, not only is IBM not a reference for computer hardware, but an average Joe or Jane can go online and construct his/her own computer and have it shipped to Barbados by FedEx in less than a week. The point I’m making is that the traditional giants are no more. They have been replaced and or are being replaced by a new and disruptive technological force.
  5. 5. 5 This raises a number of questions like:  When did it start (late 90s with the Dotcom boom that eventually crashed)  How long is this wave of disruptive technologies likely to last?  What can we expect next?  How much more can we take?  How many more Apps will there be?  How much smarter will our phones become?  How much smarter will our homes become?  What is the overall impact on us as businesses, consumers, a country, which is already grappling with economic stress and urgently in need of reform?  When this wave finally crashes, what will be the collateral damage? And who will survive? Don’t look at me? Only God knows but hopefully our panel of digital marketing experts can help us to better prepare for these pending realities. But just to say at this point, based on my own experience in the world of disruptive technologies, businesses need to prepare just as they would for ‘Kick Em Jenny’. Not that we need fear the technologies as some have us do, or simply run for cover, but we all need to develop the relevant response systems and counter attack to ameliorate any losses or should I say possible extinction. As Winston Churchill (late British Prime Minister) said: “Never let a good crisis go to waste”. And what we have found, with the traditional newspaper business currently facing extinction, is that more and more people are gravitating online. The impact on the printing press Just last week, Britain’s The Independent announced an end to its print newspaper operation after three decades, saying it will produce an online edition only, making around 75 journalists redundant.i The newspaper publishing group said the move would ensure a "sustainable and profitable future" for the company which has been struggling with heavy losses for years. Therefore, the newspaper, which was launched in 1986, will print its last
  6. 6. 6 daily on March 26 while the last Independent on Sunday will be published on March 20th. Guess our friends in Fontabelle are shaking all about now. As owner of the Independent Evgeny Lebedev explained, “the newspaper industry is changing, and that change is being driven by readers.” Yes, you have to listen to your readers and customers! He bought The Independent for £1 back in 2010 but has since pumped around £60m of investment into the publishing group, including funding the launch of the i in an attempt to attract a younger and wider audience. The i, which has doubled its cover price to 40p since its launch, will remain based in the Kensington, west London building, which belongs to The Daily Mail and is where The Independent currently has its offices. Thankfully, here in Barbados, our online subscribers don't pay a cent to access our news and public information content. And why should they, when advertisers already pay for their messages to be added to our publications, based on our readership? However, we are happy to see that the Independent has finally woken up to the reality that we faced six years ago; which is that in this technological era, all firms must adapt to the breakthrough innovations, which their customers are using and gravitating towards. After all, isn’t the purpose of being in business, to serve and meet the needs of the customer? As Christensen readily states, keeping close to customers is critical for current success. Just this week I met with an advertising client who initially ignored the disruptive child. In fact, when we first met, he was adamant that he needed to see his ad in the traditional paper and not only that, he felt online was only a young people thing. However, I’m happy to report that he, like countless others, is now seeing the light and is now fully ready to commit his money to where his customers are – online.
  7. 7. 7 Barbados Today – The Stats So a bit on our numbers. We have seen phenomenal growth over the last two years and can now boast of: - Over 110 000 Facebook fans, a similar number of email followers and subscribers to our free epaper. - Average weekly Facebook post reach of one million and an engagement rate of over 100 000 people per week. This really means that on average more than 100 000 people are liking, sharing, commenting on our posts seven days a week, which adds up to over five million per year people, also viewing the messages of our advertisers. In our presentation later on this evening, we will share more data on our other Social Media sites, including our flagship epaper, which remains the number one source of online news from Barbados. In short, the shift has taken place in terms of where Barbadians get their news and information from (bear in mind that there are 85,000ii smart phones in Barbados, 150 000 Facebook accounts and 217 000 Internet usersiii – that’s 75 per cent of the population representing both the young and old demographic and one of the highest Internet penetration rates in the world, according to the International Telecommunications Union.
  8. 8. 8 Implications for policy At the policy level, our officials also need to make the shift in terms of making Barbados a Free Wifi Zone, not only in Bridgetown but across the length and breadth of this country. And this is urgent since it would not only have a positive impact on business, but the society in general and the speed of our decision-making. Our businesses also need to step up their engagement, not simply by setting up Facebook accounts that often become inactive but put themselves in a position where their customers can find them and actually trade with them online. Your employment practices also need to change and having a digital marketer is a must! We also need teach our children how to put the technology to best use for personal and professional advancement, be it educational research, seeking out opportunities for jobs; or stimulating innovation and creating new applications to solve our everyday problems. The long and short is as Christensen warns, even great firms with good business practices can be significantly weakened unless they seek to understand and adjust to patterns of innovation in their industries. Thank you for your attention. Invest today! i See http://bit.ly/IndependentGoesDigital ii See http://www.indexmundi.com/barbados/telephones_mobile_cellular.html Telephones - mobile cellular: 347,000 (2012) iii See http://www.internetworldstats.com/car/bb.htm

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