Why Newspaper Apps Are Just Like Bicycles

By Kenneth Boll | Feb 19 2015 | Product News | Insights

A Strategic View on Apps-as-a-Service

At Visiolink we often get asked the question: What is your key USP? A seemingly simple and relevant question, but one that can be challenging to answer when you are an entrepreneurial and innovative company like Visiolink with many ideas and novel solutions.

For the IT industry – and especially the work of media houses –, the paradigm is to find the middle ground between product stability (ensuring the product always maintains the ability to do what it is meant to do) and innovation (pushing the product forward with e.g. new functions, etc. ), as illustrated in this simple model.


In the newspaper industry, on the one hand, we are expected to always deliver the highest quality product, increasingly through the use of ever greater automation, while making sure that the newspaper hits the streets and is available on-time and on-site every day that the newspaper is published. Now, imagine, if you will, that the 9 o’clock evening TV news was late one day and started instead at 9.02 – this is not an option for TV, nor is being late an option for the newspaper!

At the same time, newspaper publishers expect their technology partner to be as innovative as possible, always providing them with cutting edge technology, giving publishers the chance to be first in the market with the latest technology.

The paradigm gets even stronger when you include the complexity arising from both the hardware and software industries for modern media. As competition is more intensive than ever, we now face an increasing launch of new devices – phones, tablets and even phablets - from established suppliers, as well as new market challengers, such as new cheaper hardware models from China and the launch of a Fire Phone from Amazon.

As a Visiolink customer, you may experience this complexity when our Customer Care specialists contact you to upgrade your Apps to the latest OS. Some of you might even have been surprised to find that your App was very time-consuming and costly to upgrade, particularly if many of the App’s features and functionalities were custom-made for you.

This upgrade or change issue calls for a structured and organized environment that enables us to prioritize and make sure that there are no hidden surprises. The primary need is for a solution with high stability and high quality that drives the focus of readers and advertisers towards the value of your editorial content, rather than the platform it’s published on.

Let me give you an example. A manufacturer of bicycles innovates his bicycles by including novel bells, saddles, lights and other nice-to-have gadgets that customize the look and feel of the bicycle. Most of these parts are important – some even vital – but none of them matter, if the chain keeps falling off and the entire purpose of the bicycle – which is primarily a mode of transport – is lost. Also, the manufacturer is hardly likely to be awarded a prize as the bicycle manufacturer of the year, if they forget to fix the most important problem, regardless of how many nice extra gadgets they include in their design!

However, once the chain issue is fixed and the solution is stable, then the bicycle manufacturer can continue to innovate and develop other products that constitute other need-to-have and nice-to-have features.

The same goes for Visiolink – although, we are producing products and services a lot more complex than a bicycle chain.

In line with the bicycle analogy, by maintaining the core technology and systems, we are able to maintain and ensure faster upgrades and faster implementation of new newspaper titles. We can ensure compatibility with high volumes when needed and with full- or semi-automatic production, which at the same time increase stability – just to mention a few benefits.

The obvious question then is: Does this mean that cutting edge innovation is a “no go” in Visiolink? The answer is of course no; on the contrary, this is the foundation for high-class innovation. This means that we need to think differently and to challenge the mindset of our organization, and to structure our products in a more “LEGO-inspired” environment. The goal is to make a product that ultimately can be customized using standard components or LEGO blocks, that would enabling us to ensure high quality and stability even when the volume increases.

To return to the question at hand: What is Visiolink’s key USP? The short answer is availability! That is, making sure that, whatever solution you have from us, it is available on all current and future OS versions whenever they are released. Our operations constantly maintain and operate your solutions, so that whatever you have today, will work tomorrow as well!

Our mission in 2015 is to be faster, better and more effective. To do so, we will take the initiative and continue the dialogue with all our customers on how to adjust our customer-driven solutions to meet new standards as they arise; for most of you, this will mean smaller changes to current solutions, but for a few of you, the changes will be more comprehensive. However, no matter the size of the changes, together we will make them for the better!

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Kenneth Boll


Kenneth Boll

Kenneth Boll is the CEO of Visiolink. Holds a Master, Economics and Business Administration, Finance from Aarhus School of Business.