At day two of the 2015 World News Media Congress, Washington Post CIO and VP of Technology Shailesh Prakash will talk about how innovation can transform a media company and position for success in the digital age. Ahead of his presentation, Prakash reveals a bit more about one way The Post is innovating: by building software in-house and offering to license it to other publishers.
It’s been reported that The Post is looking to offer technology to other publishers. This is something your team has experimented with already by giving student newspapers at Columbia, Yale and the University of Maryland access to The Post’s CMS. Why is The Post, a news publisher, looking to get into the software-as-as-service business?
Shailesh Prakash: Technology is moving at a faster pace than ever before. The speed of innovations in mobile, big-data, video and virtual reality (to name a few) can be feared as disruptive to the media industry or embraced as opportunities. At The Washington Post, we embrace technology and firmly believe that technology is an enabler that drives user delight. Content is definitely king, but the design of our products, the features we offer, the platforms we are available on and the speed with which we deliver our content is also very important. We are investing heavily in our technology to bring state-of-the art experiences to both our readers and our subscribers. News and technology go hand-in-hand and we must excel in both. We realize that if we build the software and tools right for our own exacting demands and build software using the right technology frameworks, it makes sense to offer that capability to other media organizations.
Why is The Post uniquely qualified to offer this?
SP: We have discerning readers, a world-class newsroom and innovative advertisers that demand the absolute best when consuming and creating content. We have seen massive growth with more than 50 million readers coming to The Post in April and are widely considered a leader in innovation and speed, as evidenced by the recent recognition from Fast Company as “The World’s Most Innovative Media Company of 2015.” We have also built a best-in-class product, design and engineering team that is empowered and has the support of every executive in the company, including our owner, himself one of the (if not *the*) leading technologist in the world. Put those factors together, and I think we are uniquely positioned to offer technology that will help other media organizations truly embrace digital and offer their readers, journalists and advertisers state-of-the art tools and experiences.
What tools and software is The Post offering? And are all of these built in-house?
SP: Our platform offers solutions for some of the biggest challenges facing newsrooms. We have a best-of-breed solution for serving online traffic at scale with minimal load time, on rich, customizable templates and pages. We’ve also built a video management system that can be operated with very low costs. We have a news and advertising personalization system, and a tool to deliver bundles of content to mobile apps for millisecond load times and offline access. For newsroom planning, we have digital tools that provide end-to-end insight into everything being worked on in a digital newsroom. And we have a digital subscription system and content meter to help news organizations monetize their content. Throughout all of these tools we build, analytics is front and center and we embed contextual metrics throughout our platform and tools. Data-driven decisions are a big part of what we do at The Post, and we think others have the same need.