It’s Cultural

Innovating in a mature company is hard.

That’s certainly not news to anyone who’s tried to do. It’s not the technology or the intricacies of business models that make it hard, it’s the real financial limitations of legacy products that still contribute and a process that has been ingrained for years. Clay Christiansen’s limitations on incumbents certainly applied at ALM. Technology or the laws of supply and demand don’t care about the internal workings of your company. When we sought to build a better platform for ALM’s readers, our advertisers and our journalists we tackled the culture and process first. The first output from this change is does not use revolutionary technology to accomplish its goals. It uses the basic building blocks of the web to bring a fresh and modern experience to legal professionals – the kind of experience they have come to expect in their personal technology use. It’s fast, it’s clean and it just works. This new platform gives each of our readers the brands and news they need and expect. It exposes them to other content they value in a way that makes sense. It gives marketers access to communities of common interest in a way that matches their needs. is, importantly, not done. We have a slate of improvements to the functionality, the UI and the content that will roll out over the next few months. We’ll test stuff, some will work some won’t. Seems simple but getting there was hard.

What is revolutionary is the change that took place inside ALM in order to build this. Our product development team had been relegated to an order taking operation. It sat at the bottom of the organization; tech requirements fell out of the sky and the team responded. When a project was completed we moved on to the next. People didn’t feel an ownership for products because when the next ticket fell they could be working on a different one.

But the revolution was not started by moving it to the top and dictating product features to the organization. That structure has largely failed in media. Rather it was moved to the center – it connects the related but at times opposing goals of readers and marketers.  It listens around the organization for the problems our customers face and recommends innovative solutions. It recognizes that our team members have real specialties that can be can solve complicated problems when we leverage the deep market knowledge in our newsroom and sales teams. Over the next few months, the first output from this change will come to market. The continuous improvements we make will be seen by all of our customers and employees.

Nobody grew up dreaming of the day they could build digital products for lawyers. But an environment where talented developers can tackle critical problems in big industries is an exciting place to be as a company and it’s exactly where ALM is heading.

Jay Kirsch

Jay is responsible for developing and leading sales and marketing strategy for ALM’s advertising, content marketing and marketing services businesses. Jay was previously a Managing Director with Empirical Media where he helped companies such as The Dallas Morning News, Philadelphia Media News and QVC as they transitioned their businesses to digital. From 2010 until 2014, Jay was part of the team to successfully bring AOL back to growth and profitability. As President of AOL’s Business, Automotive & Technology Group he managed go-to-market monetization strategy, product development, editorial and audience development for market leading brands including TechCrunch, Engadget, Autoblog and DailyFinance among others. In 2008 Jay became CEO of Imaginova, a venture-backed digital media and e-commerce company where he led the company to profitability. Prior to that he spent 9 years executing middle market M&A transactions for AdMediaPartners. Jay has a Bachelor’s Degree in American Studies from Fordham University and a MBA from NYU’s Stern School of Business. He lives in Riverside, CT with his wife and two daughters.