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Conversations that matter - 31 July 2015

Conversations that matter was the title of the 2014 annual report for Fairfax Media and Simon Tong's presentation to The Admirals' Breakfast Club last Friday on Business transformation in the face of industry change, was certainly a conversation that mattered.

While many industries are facing the challenges of the speed change, the media industry in particular is front and centre when it comes to the extent of change. The Directors of Fairfax Media certainly knew what they were doing when they appointed Simon Tong, Managing Director of Fairfax New Zealand 18 months ago.

Prior to his current role, Simon was Chief Executive of New Zealand electronic payments provider, Paymark, which processes more than 75 per cent of the country’s EFTPOS transactions. Prior to this, he was with Compaq Computer and Hewlett Packard so no question about command of technology.

In discussing the challenges and progress made in re-balancing the company's traditional newspaper based revenue streams with the growth of their digital properties such as, Simon is dealing with significant industrial and organisational change while meeting the information needs of New Zealand as a whole and provincial New Zealand in particular.

The acceleration of mobile combined with a similar acceleration in ethnic diversity particularly in Auckland – is another part of changing market dynamics.

Simon made specific mention of the opportunity that businesses with an increasing focus on digital will capture in terms of generating more intimate relationships with their customers.

"It’s increasingly a mobile-first world. More people are spending more time on mobile, and marketing needs to switch thinking from mobile-aware to mobile-first. Don’t just plan for campaigns and content that scale down nicely to mobile – start with mobile, and plan to scale-up to other media channels.

By tapping into data insights, the opportunity to serve audiences better is immense. Companies that are able to capitalise on this opportunity are likely to produce tremendous new value.   

There’s a real challenge to address digital customers on their new terms. There’s going to be an increasing focus on creating radically intimate relationships with customers based on 360-degree profiles of their anytime/anywhere behaviour. What is learned from these relationships will then drive multi-channel product development and integrated anytime/anywhere customer experiences.

With more data, there’s a growing need to pay attention to sensitivities around privacy. Privacy will continue to be a hot topic and we must be open and transparent with users about the data we collect and how we use it. Consumers’ willingness to allow companies to use their personal data is vital to create personalised and targeted marketing campaigns."

The Admirals' Breakfast Club would like to thank Simon for his generous insights into both the opportunities and challenges of business transformation.


John Dawson, Founder of The Admirals' Breakfast Club

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