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March 28, 2017

Thanks to the digital wave, new-age digital-only news providers are redefining business models and attracting a new league of readers. Be it customer centricity, speed to market, or channels of consumption, these players, by virtue of being solely oriented towards digital distribution of news content, seem to be better placed in harnessing the potential of digital technologies. Newspaper publishing is in a state of flux. And to stay relevant and effectively counter the challenges posed by the new players, traditional newspapers are being forced to revisit their digital strategies.

In the rapidly growing digital arena, great journalism, which until now, has been the mainstay of the value offered by traditional newspaper publishers, is no longer a differentiator but a default for market success. With the rise of social media savvy readers, customer perception is an important, not-to-be-missed aspect. In the social media age, content must not just be news-worthy. It must also be share-worthy.

How can QA Assure Content Credibility and Level the Digital News Playing Field for traditional players?

Devising a digital publishing strategy demands transformation. For traditional players, driving such digital transformation is challenging, especially when their IT landscape is built on legacy IT infrastructure, which has been operational for decades. Also, for many publishing companies, digital transformation is not just about deploying new technologies, but a paradigm shift in processes and work ethos. And culture change, as we all know, is not easy, and must be managed through effective change management.

Unlike green-field implementations, digital transformation for publishing companies also requires re-engineering initiatives, such as factoring in technical debts from aging codebases and integrating hotspots between legacy and next generation technologies. And all this must not only be deployed, but also assured with robust Quality Assurance (QA) & Testing processes. Based on my experience in media and publishing industry, here are a few QA, IT and process considerations for effective digital publishing.

For companies new to digital publishing, digital experiments are a good way to stay relevant to the Gen X reader base. Initially, these companies roll out not-so-perfect digital offerings, followed by iterative improvements. A new age publisher company, in its effort to address ever-evolving customer requirements, redesigned its home page 53 times in two years. While this model ensures improved responsiveness to customer preferences and sentiment, it also requires a cohesive IT operating model, supported by the right platform, which can swiftly design, develop, assure, and roll out interactive enhancements.

While experiments are a good start, companies must also ensure consistent and good customer experience across digital platforms such as the web, mobile and social media. For traditional, print-first players, this could prove challenging. New age as well as traditional publishers must establish a unified strategy for assuring customer experience across web, mobile, and social platforms. Many other factors such as relevancy of content to readers interest, intuitiveness of user interface, and consistency across consumption channels have a significant bearing on the acceptance levels of a news publisher.

Finally, staying close to and in constant connect with readers is the most critical success factor for digital publishing success. Mobile apps with push notifications are a good solution to achieve this. Consumer analytics can help measure success, and plan a future course of action. It provides insight on user cohorts on preferred platforms native mobile versus web, choice of social networks, preference for content types, optimal video lengths, and content consumption frequency, and days and times for traffic surge. Armed with this data, publishers can evolve their business models, invest in the right content and platforms, and maximize returns from their digital investments.

For both digital and print first models – the QA function has an all encompassing role to play not just in assuring digital technology, but also in formulating content strategies for newsworthy and share-worthy content. Amidst fierce competition from new-age players, QA organizations can help level the playing field for the big daddies of publishing to stay relevant and assure business confidence. QA is also important, because digital publishing success doesnt just come with technology deployment. You must also establish credibility as a quality content publisher. And QA can help you achieve just that. In my next post, I will show you how! Keep watching this space.

Vimal Anand V is a Quality Engineering Practitioner associated with TCS' Quality Engineering and Transformation Practice. With 15+ years of experience, he has worked with customers to architect Quality Engineering strategies, implement Quality Services for Customer Experience Initiatives, expertise with test engineering and automation solutions. He has been a career assurance professional performing roles from test engineer to Quality consultant rendering services related to Quality. He has been instrumental in building solutions focusing on Customer Experience Quality enabling with impact on business outcomes.



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