Integrating strategy for a rapid-growth and highly-segmented business in a very large organisation brings a particular set of challenges.
In July 2008 Dean Capobianco took on the role of director of mobile phones and is now also director of operations at ninemsn's Platform 9 division, covering technology development, IT and product strategy. Upon arriving, his immediate task was to figure how a range of 17 different products could be brought into line with the company's overall game plan.
"Mobile is a broad kind of remit," Capobianco says. "I really took the first three months of my role to just understand what people did, what all of the functions of the business were and how they were performing both in the mobile business and how they were contributing to the broader digital business."
Then Capobianco spent the next 90 days looking at where mobile's operations aligned with the digital business, "because until that point mobile had been operating as a separate business on the fringes of ninemsn".
Ninemsn is the digital arm of the Publishing and Broadcasting Limited media empire, which includes Australian Consolidated Press magazines and Channel Nine. Three years ago ninemsn bought out two companies that were developing leading mobile phone technology platforms for content delivery, aggregated data start-up HWW and SMS messaging pioneer Fifth Finger, bringing both businesses into its mobile phone division. Ninemsn's own mobile business encompasses the organisation's media content, its acquisitions added managed content services, a messaging platform, hosting environment and a gateway service connecting to all the telcos as well as application development capabilities, and both brands continued to operate as discrete entities under the ninemsn mantle.
Through December and January Capobianco says the mobile division conducted a midyear review, analysing the profitability of all of its products and services. "The business was playing in a lot of areas and the 17 different products and services were a reflection of all of the different directions it was going in, as well as all the different areas that consumers were going in. The market has changed a lot in the last few years."
After analysing profitability, growth and areas of alignment with ninemsn's digital brands, Capobianco set about restructuring. "We integrated the commercial team into ninemsn sales, the mobile sales team into the broader commercial division and we're in the process of integrating the content team into the content verticals across the business. My view was that mobile is not really a separate business, it's another product we have as ninemsn and it's a channel."
In the next six to 12 months he aims to improve the alignment of mobile's messaging, content syndication and partner services.
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