The emergence of disruptive technologies and changing consumer preferences has called for digital transformation across the industries, with the highest degree of disruption in M&E companies. Tejveer Bhogal, Head: Governance, alliances and PMO at Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd. (Times Group) shared his perspective on how their organization is leveraging new technologies to keep pace with the changing scenario.
Associate VPBennett Coleman & Co Ltd
The Media and Entertainment industry in India have come a long way in recent years due to changes in customer needs and digital transformation. Consumer expectations are shifting dramatically and driving companies to quickly identify ways to deliver content with the effective use of new technologies. Further digital disruption has upended several traditional business models within the M&E industry.
Looking at the current state, there is no doubt that the Indian print industry is experiencing a revolution. Strategic innovation and business modernisation have been contributing factors in accelerating business growth. Large media houses like Times Group are improving their digital capabilities and taking steps which may be rudimentary, yet impactful in terms of reader engagement. Keeping in mind the changing customer preferences, brand campaigns, infographics, AR (Alive Apps) and the citizen reporter app are also playing a vital role in business growth.
Needless to say, today, the customer is the king. Hence, it is prudent to explore avenues and mediums which may provide an omnichannel and omni-experience platform for all consumers across demographies, especially considering the internet disruption across sectors.
New consumer behaviors and expectations
With more consumers turning to apps for quick services and products or streaming content on smart TVs, the media and entertainment industry is undergoing rapid changes. Hence, to adapt to the evolving needs of customers, our organization is putting a great deal of effort into providing customers with real-time information by making sure there is content available on mobile apps. For eg: The Citizen Reporter App / TOI App on mobile provides the latest updates across the globe. We have also been providing the E-paper service to our global subscribers.
Undeniably, the digital transformation in the M&E industry has been tremendous. The new technological developments have enabled digital platforms to make significant inroads in areas and domains unheard of before. Over the last few years, The Times Group has grown leaps and bounds by leveraging technology to its full capacity. As a matter of fact, we have been instrumental in leading and driving some initiatives such as:
- Deployment and adoption of a hybrid environment on the Microsoft platform for communication and collaboration in the M&E domain in 2013
- Launched a consumer application called citizen reporter app, empowering every citizen of the country to become a reporter
- Colluded with civic authority to ensure grievances filed by citizens are addressed and captured in the print edition
- Brought out human elements in the print – taste, smell, visualize, listen etc. Eg: The Volkswagen ad with sound, tulsi seeds for your morning tea, shampoo sachets, inside out jackets for visual, 3D glasses etc
Apart from bringing such innovation to print, the establishment and institutionalization of an Architecture Review Board within IT ensured complete business continuity and real-time accessibility of technology for our print business. Multiple data centres catering to the entire print workflow is proof to the pudding.
Moving beyond, we once again leveraged technology in the early part of this year and brought another collaborative platform within the organization, in the form of Skype for business upgrade to Microsoft teams. This went live in the early part of Q1 of this calendar year. As an organization, we took corrective measures to deal with the challenges enforced by COVID. Measures were taken for ensuring the availability of technology to the end-user at their doorsteps. Eventually, we were able to sustain and ensure a TAT for our end users.
Content curation and delightful experiences
Every now and then, there comes a time when one needs to look at consolidation. We saw a similar effect in the telecom domain a few years ago. There were many players in the space earlier but just about a couple of them are providing the services today. Hence, looking at the historical trend, convergence would play a vital role in this industry.
For example, streaming services, TV companies, and social networks are now competing over both conventional sports and esports rights. Additionally, TV companies, telecoms, tech companies, OTT operators, and movie studios are competing to provide TV content. Radio stations, podcast companies, and streaming services are competing to provide radio and podcast content. Brands, too, are jumping on board, creating content to engage the same audiences that M&E companies are after.
In my opinion, we are witnessing the convergence of geographies, convergence of access, and there continues to be a lot of M&A and transactions looking to consolidate content and grow the content base. There is an increasing focus on user experience and loyalty, with companies trying to create a more direct relationship with consumers of content.
In today’s world, companies must segment their customers to remain competent. We have customers from both city-based homogenous populations and Tier II and III cities, making our customer group heterogeneous. Therefore, customers must be categorized based on language or rural/urban presence for better customer engagement.
Thus, the media houses today need to strive for intelligent personalization, ad-free viewing experiences, video on demand (VoD) like OTT solutions, and online gaming to continuously compete for user’s attention in this highly competitive market. Businesses must learn how to understand their customers better and scale up their digital capability to meet the new expectations.
In addition to developing high-quality user experiences, better viewing recommendations, personalized and relevant advertisements and omnichannel experiences across devices, media and entertainment companies need to create online tools that cultivate customer loyalty.
About the author
Tejveer Bhogal is currently the head of Governance, Alliances and PMO at Bennett Coleman and Co. Ltd. (The Times Group), the leading Indian media conglomerate headquartered in Mumbai. Mr Tejveer’s mantra to success is based on three key pillars: People, Process and Technology. He strongly believes that the customer is the heart of any ecosystem and envisions a culture of doing business that focuses on creating the best experience for the customer.
Mr Tejveer is a seasoned professional with 26+ years of work experience in large media enterprises like BCCL, Global Audit and Consulting firm Ernst and Young, Microsoft and Wipro Ltd. Before joining The Times Group, he held the position of Associate Vice President at Ernst and Young.