Research shows benefits of open innovation for news

The first research paper at ISOJ from Tanja Aitamurto, University of Tampere, Finland, and Seth Lewis, University of Minnesota, looked at processes of innovation (PDF).

Presenting the paper, Lewis highlighted the challenge facing news organisations today: keeping up with modern demands for R&D while finding new sources of revenue.

He said media organisations have under invested in R&D and not expressed much interest in open innovation.

The paper looked at NPR, the New York Times, The Guardian and USA Today. Lewis highlighted how the Guardian lets developers access APIs to do new things with their content.

In exchange, advertising appears on these new products and services, based on Guardian content.

The biggest benefit Aitamurto and Lewis found was the speeding up of internal and external product development.

Essentially, it allows other to experiment with content, and access groups of users that would be hard to reach before.

Secondly, open innovation offered opportunities for new revenue streams. And this fed into the third benefit – the ability to leverage the brand and drive traffic. The impact, said Lewis, was to have the brand seen as a platform, rather than a product.

The fourth benefit cited by Lewis was the potential to build a community of developers. For example, the Times described it as good street cred.

The challenges were more cultural than technological, said Lewis.  Corporate leaders didn’t like the word ‘open’ and were more receptive to language such as ‘business development Web 2.0″.

Lewis concluded by saying that open innovation meant news content gained a new life and take news organisations and weave them into the structure of the web.

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