Jeff Bezos is buying The Washington Post. But at this point that’s old news. In fact, as soon as the story broke yesterday it was old news thanks in part to the immediacy of this connected world in which we all live today; a world that Bezos himself has a had huge hand in creating. And to me, that’s where the real story begins.
It was roughly three years ago that we at Connected World (M2M magazine at the time) named Bezos an M2M Pioneer. OurM2M Pioneers (which makes it return this December) are individuals who will “… continue forging new ground in the face of a changing marketplace.” Bezos fit this criterion for the 2010 honor on his ability in “changing the way people interact with the written word while connecting them wirelessly throughout the world.” And while it’s Bezos himself and not Amazon who is purchasing The Washington Post, at the end of the day it still reads to me as a classic case where connected can complement traditional in the business world.
Allow me to explain. Earlier I wrote about a trend I was seeing in which businesses were moving into a mode of building a “connected complement” to their traditional business models. The idea was driven in part by Avis Budget Group acquiring Zipcar in order to enhance its traditional rental-car services with the connected car-sharing services brought to the party by Zipcar. It was the age-old build vs. buy discussion where Avis chose the latter in order to keep up with rivals who were offering similar services.
It prompted me to wonder whether we are on the cusp of a trend where traditional businesses would begin investing in M2M-based businesses in order to supplement core services in the face of a changing business environment.
Based on that description of the “connected complement” we can probably consider The Washington Post news to be a bit of the opposite—connected investing in traditional. But in the end, the intention could be the same.
A line from The Washington Post’s 2012 Annual Report reads: “… faced with the loss of much of our classified advertising, the nationalization of local retail and declining readership among younger people, we don’t have a formula for enduring profitability. (We do, however, have one part of that formula: a great newspaper.)”
There it is: A great newspaper. In this day and age when everyone with a blog or Twitter account wants to lay claim to being a trusted source for content, very few actually fit the bill. For my money, put The Washington Post in that rarified air, if you will, among those which do. In all, there are so very few of us out there …
Being a trusted resource means you have loyal readers; readers that connect with you across multiple touchpoints—digital (tablet, ereader, etc.), social, and yes, even print. And when Bezos says “… we will need to invent, which means we will need to experiment” when talking about change, you get the sense he is talking about ways in which to capitalize on each of these touchpoints in a more intuitive and data-driven manner.
To me, it all exists within that data. I read an interesting piece from Nielsen that suggests Big Data will drive media and marketing down a road of justification. In a way it intimates that those that know their audience and can harness the data will be in position to win big. As the saying goes, “There’s gold in them thar hills.”
You could say the man who brought the world Amazon Web Services knows a thing or two about developing very deliberate data strategies and I fully expect him to apply such strategies to The Washington Post in order to deliver content in new and exciting ways—ways that will create data that’s bigger than big.
For it’s worth, that’s my two cents on the topic. In any case, it all adds some excitement to the talk about being connected, and puts an interesting spin to my case for the “connected complement.”