Chapter 1 / Foundations of Information Systems in Business
lmost everybody has a theory about how to save the U.S. newspaper industry. The only consensus, it seems, is that it needs to change fundamentally or it could all but disappear. At The New York Times, tough times have elevated IT-enabled innovation to the top of the agenda. A research and development group, created in 2006, operates as a shared service across nearly two dozen newspapers, a radio station, and more than 50 Web sites. “Our role is to accelerate our entry onto new platforms by identifying opportunities, conceptualizing, and prototyping ideas,” explains Michael Zimbalist, the ...view middle of the document...
Typical projects are measured against criteria like revenue potential or journalistic value. R&D projects aren’t. “Since we build software, there’s no huge capital investment up front,” Frons says, “which allows us to experiment. The emphasis is on rapid development.” Times Widgets, a widget-making platform, was a contest winner, as was the recently launched Times Wire, a near real-time customizable interface for online content. “We’re trying to solve specific problems and think about where the business is going,” Frons says. Frons is focused on enhancing revenue, cutting costs, and increasing efficiency through process improvements and automation. The New York Times has launched a cool interactive map that shows the most popular Netflix rentals across 12 U.S. metropolitan areas: New York, San Francisco/Bay Area, Boston, Chicago, Washington, Los Angeles, Seattle, Minneapolis, Denver, Atlanta, Dallas, and Miami. If you’re a Netflix junkie and a closet Twilight fan (and you live in a major U.S. city), your rental habits are now on display. To create the map, The New York Times partnered with Netflix. The map is a graphical database of the top 100 most-rented Netflix films of 2009 laid on top of maps. With it you can graphically explore top 2009 Netflix movies based on three criteria: films that were hated or loved by critics, an alphabetical list, and most rented. For example, select most rented, and when you place the mouse over a zip code, a window pops up showing you what the top Netflix rentals are for that specific region. Some trends are not surprising: The most popular Netflix movie of 2009 was The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, although Slumdog Millionaire and Twilight were both in the top 10. Milk, the story of San Franciscan activist Harvey Milk, was popular in San Francisco and other city centers, but not so much in the suburbs of southern cities (such as Dallas and Atlanta). Mad Men, the 1960s-set drama about advertising execs, was hot in parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, but not in any other major cities. It barely got mention in Denver and Dallas, and not at all in Miami. The map does show some interesting trends: Big blockbusters were not as popular in city centers (Wanted and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, barely made a splash in the city centers of Manhattan and San Francisco), although this could be due to the fact that a lot of people see blockbusters in movie theaters. Last Chance Harvey, a romantic comedy starring Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson, was enjoyed in wealthier suburbs (such as Scarsdale), but not in city centers (such as Manhattan). Tyler Perry’s movies (Tyler Perry’s Madea Goes to Jail and Tyler Perry’s The Family That Preys) were popular in predominantly black neighborhoods. Much of what has been innovative thus far at The New York Times can be classified as process or product innovation. Typically, a healthy and growing company should be content with focusing 90 to 95 percent of its innovation dollars on...