Newsroom analytics breaks new ground with ‘What-if?’ modelling

Exploring alternative workflow scenarios to optimize processes and cut costs is one of the new features of Eidosmedia’s SMART 3.0 business-intelligence tool.

“Today’s multi-channel newsrooms are complex operations,” said Ismail Gazarin, Eidosmedia CIO. “Their profitability and sustainability can depend critically on the efficiency of their processes and use of resources. This new release is a powerful aid in achieving that optimization.”

Previous releases of SMART have allowed publishers to analyse and monitor their current operations, asking questions like: “How long do we take to prepare a video for publication?” and “What’s the slowest step in the process?” The new release adds a ‘predictive’ function: the ability to make hypothetical changes to resources and processes and see what the result would be. For example: “How would our performance change if we appointed three new video editors?” SMART 3.0 allows alternative workflow scenarios like this to be explored quickly and without disrupting the newsroom organization. 

SMART’s new user-friendly interface is also a significant step towards “self-service analytics” – the ability of non-technical users to generate the charts and displays they need, without having to work through technical staff. 

Users access SMART through dashboards made up of widgets – each widget displays one or more parameters of the publishing operation. Users can configure their dashboards by adding or removing widgets and changing their data source or display mode. No technical skill is required, so users can fine-tune their dashboards to focus on the aspects of the operation that most interest them. 

To help new adopters get the most out of its functions, SMART 3.0 comes with a library of ready-made widgets configured to display the kind of data that existing SMART users have found useful. “Every publishing operation is different, of course,” said Ismail. “But by giving new users a selection of widget types that have worked well for other customers, they get a head start in developing a set of tools that they can then refine to focus on the critical parameters of their own operations.” 

As well as analyses and predictions, SMART 3.0’s widgets can also provide ‘early warnings’: email alerts to one or more users when a production parameter reaches a certain value: “Flag the duty attorney when there are more than three articles awaiting legal review” or when a particular event occurs: “All stories in the Finance section have been approved and are ready to go.” 

“As well as working on data from the editorial environment, SMART can also import data from accounting and HR systems,” said Ismail. “These can generate profitability and ROI reports that provide valuable insights into the use of resources and ways of maximizing productivity across the editorial operation.”

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