How Media and Entertainment Leaders Can Thrive Through Transformation

Traditional categories in media and entertainment are quickly melting away. How can leaders in these industries thrive when everything is changing all the time?

Once upon a time, the lines of demarcation in media and entertainment were pretty clear. Film production companies made films and TV shows. Gaming companies made video games. And if you wanted to hear or watch your favorite show, you had a limited number of radio and TV stations to choose from. Not so much today. The lines in media and entertainment are blurry beyond belief in our era of streaming, always-on, screen-in-every-pocket content. 

For example, if I’d said a few years back that Apple and Amazon would be film and TV production powerhouses, would you believe me? Would you have predicted that the company that first delivered red-enveloped DVDs to your mailbox would be deep in a battle with other streaming services for the eyes and ears of billions of consumers? And what if I told you the film that won the Academy Award for best picture in 2022 was made by a company that started out building computers?

“Companies that demonstrate transformational excellence tend to be great all-around athletes that function well under stress.”

MGI Research

While these types of changes have been underway for quite a while, they intensify with each new wave of innovation. And while some of the recent changes were directly linked to the pandemic, many predated its disruptive effects. Tech companies are buying gaming companies, media companies are partnering with gaming companies to advertise in virtual games and experiences, and the basic models of content creation have been upended in the last few years. With the advent of networks such as TikTok (which recently hit 1 billion active users), anyone with a smartphone can be a content creator in new and innovative ways. And in what we used to call “broadcasting,” anyone with a Blue Yeti microphone and a quiet space can potentially attract thousands of listeners. Publishers aren’t just publishers anymore. We’re all publishers. 

So what does all this mean for media and entertainment leaders? It’s time to toss out the old rulebook and categories as companies in this space stretch and shift. And processes and systems must be ready to change without massive internal disruption as those shifts happen. Sometimes, adapting to change means a gradual shift in operating models, and other times, change comes more quickly due to transformative events such as mergers and acquisitions (M&A) and initial public offerings (IPOs).

“Having integrated HR, payroll, and financials really makes the M&A integration efforts easier.”

Kevin McDonald Vice President of People Services and Insights The E.W. Scripps Company

This type of change has a way of reinforcing where a company’s internal processes are solid and shining a light on its weaknesses. This idea is explored in a recent paper from Workday and MGI Research called “Transformational Excellence: Leveraging M&A, IPOs, and Divestitures as Pivot Points for Success.” According to the report writers: “Transformational events create massive organizational storms that expose weaknesses in operational resiliency, the ability to rapidly make go or no-go decisions, cultural adaptability, and best practices in finance, human resources (HR), IT, and beyond. Companies that demonstrate transformational excellence tend to be great all-around athletes that function well under stress.” 

And finally, a key factor to thriving through change is having the right modern cloud-based technology in place. Kevin McDonald, vice president of people services and insights at The E.W. Scripps Company, has guided the company through more than 20 transformative events. Once a newspaper publisher, it has evolved into a media conglomerate, and in a recent Workday Podcast episode, McDonald said: “Workday’s played an absolutely critical role in the success of our most recent acquisition. Having integrated HR, payroll, and financials really makes the M&A integration efforts easier. But more importantly to me, it eliminates the risk of data being out of sync across different systems.” 

So, if they want to thrive in the years to come as categories blend together and innovation speeds ahead, media and entertainment leaders should cultivate a flexible and adaptable environment, sharpen their focus on better internal processes, and invest in modern enterprise cloud-based technology.

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