Research and development is challenged when media companies try to protect their existing businesses instead of moving forward. And Sara Ohrvall, Director of Global R & D at Bonnier, said technology doesn’t always initiate development at media companies the way it does in other industries. She, Turner Sports’ Michael Adamson, and the NYT’s Nick Bilton discussed the ways they’ve found to work around institutional restrictions in paidContent Mobile’s final panel of the day, “R&D: The Road (Map) Ahead.”
More focus on consumer behavior now: “I think there’s a huge difference between developing for the tablet and developing for the iPad,” Adamson said — simply because there’s so little information available about customers’ usage patterns of other brands of tablets right now. Instead, both Adamson and Ohrvall are currently monitoring the ways consumers use iPads; Adamson said it’s too early to do focus groups on other types of tablets.
Ohrvall pointed out that the ways consumers use iPads have changed: They now use them more at home and treat them as personal devices rather than sharing them with family members.
Giving R&D teams freedom: The R&D team needs some degree of privacy, says Ohrvall. “Keep them separate or at least make sure that nobody can interfere with them” for awhile before they have to go back and explain their ideas to the organization. “Most innovative ideas within big companies have happened in that way.” Panelists agreed that some of the best insights occur when team members have the freedom to explore product concepts informally.
Even if you can’t think ahead three years, said Ohrvall, “there’s enough change right now to keep everyone pretty busy.”