Managing people, technology key challenges

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Managing resources is one of the greatest challenges facing the media industry as it evolves into a more integrated business, said publishing executives at American Business Media's 2008 Spring Meeting. As media companies move to provide a broader array of content, particularly online, they have to hire, train and retain new types of people, executives said. “We had to redefine a lot of roles,” said Tony Uphoff, CEO of TechWeb, formerly CMP's Business Technology Group, pointing to a major reorganization earlier this year. “With a lot of people who have traditionally been editors, it's hard to determine if they are developers or editors. They are doing a lot of production work, including HTML and design.” Another key skill set is project management, as media companies roll out increasingly complicated projects such as content management systems and e-media initiatives. “The most important thing you can have is someone who is a good communicator and can manage a project from beginning to end,” said David Parsha, VP-interactive platforms at Cygnus Business Media, during a session on talent management for smaller publishers. Dick Ryan, CEO of ZweigWhite, said project management skills and industry knowledge are both extremely important to the engineering and architecture indus-tries that ZweigWhite serves. “Our clients require someone with deep under-standing of their industry. It's not good enough to let an editor do that,” Ryan said. Despite the downturn in the economy, media companies are investing in new technologies, particularly content management systems and Web technologies. “We are investing heavily in Web technology, updating our content management system and our directories technology,” William L. Pollak, CEO of ALM, told Media Business when asked about his corporate investment strategy in a sluggish economy. “We think that this is the time to invest. We are not cutting back. We are investing in areas that will help us grow in the future.” Peter Goldstone, president of Hanley Wood Business Media, said in an interview, “Even in the down housing market, our capital investment is three times what it has been in the past. We are investing in technology for a new editorial work-flow system that ties into our content manage-ment system. We are also hiring people to fill our expansion in e-media.” —Kate Maddox
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