2019 Winners

Innovation Award Winners

Revitalizing Workplace Culture


Igniting Innovation

EnsembleIQ operates as an integrated network of 20+ media brands across several core markets, including consumer packaged goods, grocery, drug and convenience retail, private label, technology, pharma and medical.

With the acquisition of five different companies, EnsembleIQ inherited seven offices across two countries, each of which had its own "style" and culture. Some offices were modern, bright with a European design aesthetic. Others were traditional, drab, and organizationally silo'd. Their open-air cubicles made collaboration difficult and stifled discussion and brainstorming. The company felt these offices failed to support the rapidly changing environment of today's business world. As a result, EnsembleIQ is transforming these spaces to encourage a results-oriented work dynamic.

EnsembleIQ closed three offices and integrated teams into four new centralized locations, purchasing sleek, modern cubicles and created a mix of private areas for concentration as well as informal spaces where ideas can be shared and problems resolved collectively.

The company created laid-back discussion spaces and a new Innovation Lab. For the Lab, it turned an unused section of the lunchroom into a bright ideation space with new modern furniture, bright lounge chairs and white board walls. EnsembleIQ items used in client facilitations (koosh balls, post-it notes, markers, and gumball machines) were made available for everyday use.

Increasingly, EnsembleIQ has attempted to break down traditional silo's by developing cross functional SWAT teams. Like a police SWAT team, these teams are designed for rapid deployment, situation assessment, and solution identification. Once the team develops a solution framework, the execution is passed back to the appropriate business lead and the team is disbanded until they are needed for another "mission".

Examples of SWAT teams deployed this year have included:

  1. Brand communication & employee engagement team
  2. Strategic, cross-brand content alignment team
  3. Digital products team
  4. Emerging brands strategy team
  5. Events strategy team

Recently, EnsembleIQ extended this model into more permanent organizational structures. For example, when the Digital Products SWAT team identified process inefficiencies, the company created the Digital Center of Excellence.

Like the SWAT team, the Digital Center of Excellence is a cross-functional team but it has a more formalized structure with specific leadership, responsibilities and accountability. The team has developed an overarching strategic framework for how it will develop and go to market with best-in-class digital products. Their authority extends beyond product development and into product marketing, training, sales support, sales accountability and ongoing reporting. The group is co-led by a product development specialist and a sales leader to ensure a closed loop strategy with shared accountability for driving digital growth.

These recent changes, all intended to support collaboration and innovative thinking have been widely embraced by EnsembleIQ employees. The company's new vision, "Solving Big Problems and Inspiring Bold Ideas" has been incorporated into a number of internal and external presentations and marketing materials. The phrase is referenced often in both formal meetings and informal hallway conversations.

The recent design changes are a very visual manifestation of the company's commitment to its new vision. Employees are noticing the changes and are excited about the positive momentum in this direction. There is a palpable sense of excitement as the company begins to focus on (and reward) BOLD thinking that inspires growth.


Why Every Newsroom Needs a Roadmap

Chemical & Engineering News is the world's leading chemistry news organization. Its reporters and editors track the most important news in chemistry and related sciences: the hottest research advances, business and policy trends, chemical safety practices, career guidance, and much more.

C&EN has been published by the American Chemical Society (ACS) since 1923. Millions of chemists, scientists, and chemistry fans visit the website each year. Meanwhile, the weekly print magazine is still going strong, reaching ACS's more than 150,000 members each week. Scientists at more than 1,200 companies and universities around the world have access to C&EN through its institutional product, C&EN Global Enterprise.

Its journalists work fast and smart to cover breaking news and industry trends. But as the news industry has undergone digital transformation, workflows and processes have struggled to keep up.

In 2018, C&EN got serious about not just keeping up, and instead leapt forward to build a newsroom that can grow fast, respond to change, and better serve customers. It went into rapid growth mode, and came out on the other side with structure and process to help teams work better, together, to make the best news products possible.

In just one year, C&EN built a roadmap and a product pipeline, got onboard with project management, convened a user testing group, and adopted a sprint-based product development cycle. It's allowed us to manage C&EN like a startup within a much larger legacy parent company, priming the newsroom for sustainability and growth in a challenging news media environment.

C&EN's 2018 Roadmap aligned the entire newsroom - editorial, design, technology, audience, operations, and sales - around shared goals and targets. Project management tools streamlined communications and track progress against that roadmap, providing unprecedented transparency across teams.

User research and testing by our C&EN Reader Lab is now a keystone of each new product it launches. The product pipeline, product sprints, and rapid-prototyping are allowing C&EN to develop new products more rapidly than ever before.

Developing processes and systems that support goal-setting and prioritization, team alignment, and user experience has allowed us to work better, faster, and smarter--together. The effect on the multidisciplinary team of editors, product managers, developers, and designers who are responsible for bringing new products and features to C&EN readers has been nothing short of transformational. Where there was once years of built-up mistrust, confusion, and siloed communication there is now clarity of purpose, trust, and transparency.

The changes have positioned C&EN as a nimble pilot for improving organizational alignment and speeding product development and innovation -- both at ACS and beyond. For example, C&EN's ACS parent, the ACS Publications division, launched its own roadmap this year. And C&EN Product team members have been invited to talk about the rapid prototyping and user centered design principles it used in the launch of its new paywall both within ACS (at the organization-wide ACS Product Roundtable) and the larger industry (at the 2018 Association Media & Publishing meeting.)

Leveraging Ecosystem Partners

WATT Global Media

Using Digital Convergent Technology To Optimize Production Workflow

WATT Global Media has digital products, print publications and events in the animal agriculture, animal feed and pet food markets. Like most small B2B media companies, WATT had issues with internal production resources running multiple types of digital media campaigns, print media campaigns and having time to train staff to deploy new tactics.

Today, WATT can get digital campaign orders out the door with the same success rate as internal staff and do it at 50 percent of the current cost. WATT is no longer limited to internal staff to do all the work.

Through WATT's networking groups, the company worked with three separate and major B2B media companies work to understand how WATT achieved the outsourcing with DCT. They have since mimicked WATT's strategy and are working with DCT today.

Internally WATT now looks at production and process scale differently. It no longer sees scaling, or not having an internal skillset initially, as a hurdle to starting a new product or service for clients. WATT emphasizes to its internal staff to keep the higher value client touches (strategic consultative conversations, campaign improvement suggestions etc) and trying to outsource the bulk of the important yet low value client touches to DCT (ad trafficking, material collection / organization). Externally, WATT is viewed by peers as trying something new and having success with it. Customers don't notice a difference in the quality of work and the company can align itself to have more high value touches with clients.

Northstar Travel Group

Digital Email Solutions

Northstar Travel Group is the leading B2B information and marketing solutions company serving all segments of the travel industry including audiences in leisure/retail, corporate/business travel, business and sports meetings, incentives, and travel technology.

Northstar was looking for a solution that would solve five specific problems. First, it needed to enable non-technical business members to create and control the content and layout within digital newsletters without handling HTML or templates. Secondly, Northstar needed out-of-box, easily branded templates for clients. Third, it was essential that Northstar empower the business to create certain portions of content for newsletters in advance, within their CMS, without having to wait until the specific newsletter was deployed. The fourth was to enable the digital production team to place banner ads within a newsletter without interrupting the editors. And, finally Northstar needed banner ads placed in any newsletter to be persistent across the life of a newsletter.

StoryPorts was the only vendor that provided a solution for all five use cases, effectively creating easy-setup, design modification and collaboration. StoryPorts provided Northstar with out-of-box easily branded templates for clients. Their Email Studio technology allowed Northstar to pull in its RSS feed from the editorial CMS directly into newsletters, removing the labor-intensive task of copying and pasting the content from CMS into SF Marketing Cloud. The editorial team could use the intuitive UI to make content and aesthetic modifications and the digital production team could now easily place timely banner ads without disrupting editors. StoryPorts solved all Northstar's email marketing content workflow and template issues.

Leveraging Northstar's ecosystem partners contributed to its bottom line by saving hours on email production, effectively granting more time to expand our digital newsletter efforts to all business units, reaching a previously underserved audience. The time it took for the editorial team to create a newsletter was reduced from 20 minutes, down to five minutes, a 75 percent reduction in time spent on email creation; allowing them to focus more on content creation, rather than technical newsletter building and testing. The time it took the digital production team to place client banner ads or text ads within a newsletter, along with testing was reduced from 25 minutes, down to five minutes; an 80 percent time reduction. This gave the team additional bandwidth to increase the number of newsletters that could be processed through the department. The time it took for the digital technology team to create a template for a new brand or client newsletter, along with testing was reduced from 60 minutes, down to 30 minutes; a 50 percent reduction.

With the time saved on email creation, the Northstar team has jumped from approximately 40 digital newsletters to 60 and counting. The variety of out-of-the-box, mobile optimized templates, connection to social tools, and the sheer ease of use within StoryPorts was a tremendous advantage to the entire organization, it allowed the sales team to offer a new marketing solutions product that included, content creation, distribution, and social media marketing to many of our clients.

Internally, the digital production team is more nimble and able to launch new digital newsletters in a shortened period of time thanks to the faster set-up and easy design capabilities using the StoryPorts solution. Northstar now has a larger portfolio of solutions to offer current and future clients, therefore producing a new digital revenue stream. Having superior solutions allows Northstar to remain leaders in our industry, provide our clients with the right solutions and continue the company's image as an innovative, pioneer in the travel world.

Retooling the Business Model

A Data Pro

A Human-in-the-Loop Business Model

For two decades, A Data Pro has been a top service provider in the media and business intelligence field. News and data aggregators, publishers and media outlets turn to A Data Pro because of its proven experience in data processing, content management, editorial and analytics services and risk management.

What makes A Data Pro a preferred partner for some of the biggest names in the media and business intelligence sector is its in-house machine learning (ML) and AI technologies, coupled with its analysts' expertise, which cover all industries across more than 80 jurisdictions.

The synthesis between man and machine is what defines the human-in-the-loop approach to ML, and with it, A Data Pro's retooled business model. The company coupled the intelligence of its analysts with the advanced capabilities of its ML technologies, creating an inseparable whole – an artificial intellect more powerful than anything it's done before, that stores all previous knowledge and keeps learning.

To accomplish this, A Data Pro authored three proprietary algorithms for clustering, classification and named entity recognition (NER), copyright-protected and collectively referred to as Serendipity. Serendipity is an AI that will fundamentally change the entire delivery process of A Data Pro's Media Monitoring and Analysis services by achieving nearly full automation.

A key element of this system of algorithms is A Data Pro's own CMS platform – dubbed "Xenomorph" – a semantic repository, storing and automatically indexing the data collected by its crawlers across projects, and A Data Pro's analysts' knowledge invested in its annotation. This repository will employ human-in-the-loop ML to train and refine Serendipity, constantly increasing its efficiency.

These two solutions paved the way for A Data Pro to provide full-spectrum business intelligence solutions and, coupled with intensive tech training, future-proofed its people for the Digital Age.

A Data Pro's retooled business model focused on automation and sustainable talent development, enhancing key performance metrics: reduced operating costs; decreased processing times; minimized human error; increased productivity; shifted human resources from data processing to information analytics and research; broadened its portfolio of services to attract clients. Automating menial aspects of data processing proved beneficial to employee morale and allowed its analysts to utilize their creativity and problem-solving skills, instead of manually searching for and annotating information. This created a workflow of intelligence-intensive tasks, causing its Training Unit's functions to shift to analysts' soft skills.

Recognition also came from outside. A Data Pro was awarded a EUR 435,000 EU grant for purchasing the soft- and hardware necessary to implement Serendipity. Thanks to the Technology Department's semantic and AI capabilities, the company also won a EUR 780,000 total in EU funding under CASPAR and Rising STAR – two projects aimed at making Big Data-based business intelligence accessible to SMEs and non-tech users in the EU.

In 2017 against 2016, A Data Pro's tech-centred restructuring contributed to an increase of 15% in revenue and of 33% in profit margins. More so, it allowed A Data Pro to provide a full spectrum of business intelligence solutions and, thanks to intensive tech training, ensured its people are ready for a digital career, earning the company an innovative employer award.

Reputation Institute

Mastering Recurring Business Revenue

Reputation Institute has embarked on a journey over the last 12-18 months to transition from a consultancy-focused business model to one that is recurring and membership-focused. To implement its upgraded recurring membership model, RI answered the following three key questions that all focus on growth:

What do clients need?
RI built products and services around its standard measurement platform, RepTrak. To scale, RI strategically mapped its customer journey to understand the suite of services needed by its clients at different times, based on the unique challenges they face.

How can RI grow and scale at enhanced speed?
RI built a centralized, professional sales organization led by a dedicated Chief Growth Officer. With teams in each of its key growth markets, RI's focus is to grow the company through disruptive customer acquisition. By combining global sales and marketing efforts, RI is positioned to grow at a significantly greater pace. RI has also shifted its organization to have a dedicated client membership team focused on retention and upsell opportunities when appropriate.

How can RI ensure its customer experience is aligned across global markets?
RI standardized its delivery model by leveraging technology to align how it partners with hundreds of clients across our multiple offices.

The business outcomes have resulted as follows:

  1. Top line impact:
    • Double-digit top-line growth through:
      • Increased $ value retention on current accounts by 86%
      • Increased % retention of current accounts by 70%
      • Won 184+ new logos vs. 119 in 2017 (55% YoY increase)
  2. Efficiency metrics
  3. Alignment of salary costs (20-25%) on revenue across offices
  4. Replicable delivery processes with benefits on utilization levels of resources
  5. Technology reduced manual production tasks

The business today has the following benefits:

  • From a business KPI perspective:
    1. Business Predictability with 6-8 months forward-looking (bookings, revenues, GM, EBITDA, etc)
    2. 80% recurring revenue today vs 30% 18 months ago
  • From an operations perspective:
    • Same system/platform and central database and technology used across geographies
    • Best practice sharing across offices is now a consistent reality
  • From a cultural perspective:
    1. Higher internal engagement scores thanks to enhanced leadership efforts and employees feeling they are part of the same business, even in different parts of the world.
    2. Far better relationships are now built across offices thanks to the development of subject matter experts on different services that may be replicated across geographies. Internal communications have also been enhanced with the implementation of a dedicated Ri employee-only mobile app.

Delivering a Dynamic Customer Experience

Hanley Wood

Project 360: Less Than Zero

Hanley Wood Media enables continuous digital engagement sparked by award-winning journalism, both digital and print, as well as executive level, face-to-face events. Hanley Wood's ARCHITECT brand delivers in-depth features on industry trends, design, technology, products, and culture in both print and digital environments. ARCHITECT is the premiere source for architecture news and building resources for architects and architecture industry professionals.

Project 360 is a digital editorial series on ARCHITECT.com. It is a 360-degree view of a building project that dives deeper, providing the audience with unique perspectives of all involved parties: architect, builder and owner. With videos, photos, interactive graphics and blueprints, the Project 360 website creates an immersive online experience that fills a neglected niche within architecture media - detailed descriptions of how buildings perform. The result is an intimate exploration of a unique building that cannot be obtained through print alone.

In November 2017, ARCHITECT launched "Project 360: Less Than Zero," exploring the Rocky Mountain Institute's Innovation Center, a model for high performance, net-zero energy buildings. Thorough reporting and site design created an interactive experience that continues to engage the audience in a deep and profound way.

The Project 360 site received over 10,000 page views, providing excellent brand exposure and return on investment for Think Wood, the underwriting sponsor. Design, development and launch of the Project 360 site were executed tightly, delivering the project on time and within budget.

Project 360 has successfully reached beyond ARCHITECT's trade-specific audience and has met mainstream readers who are interested in the industry. Project 360's detailed and immersive examination of the Rocky Mountain Institute's Innovation Center serves as a source of inspiration for architects, developers, and business owners in designing similar net-zero energy office buildings.

myCME and Haymarket Medical Education

INNOVISION Mobile products from myCME: Serving Healthcare Professionals Education "On the Go"

myCME reaches an audience of healthcare professionals (HCPs) including physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, and other professionals across the full spectrum of medical specialties.

Eight-one percent of physicians use smartphones for professional purposes, and spend 3+ hours a day on mobile devices. myCME knew the rapidly evolving world of connectivity among clinicians would drive increasing numbers of medical learners to mobile platforms. In anticipation, myCME developed the proprietary INNOVISION Mobile Products platform, leveraging state-of-the-art digital capabilities to provide precise, concise, readily accessible CME through a variety of mobile applications:

myCMETM GO: Reaches a verified network of HCPs with custom video or audio CME content—specifically designed for mobile use—for those interested in "on the go" learning.

myCMETM LIVE: Offers robust data integrated with a first-of-its-kind geo-targeted mobile platform to boost live CME meeting attendance.

myCMETM ENGAGE: Increases engagement with enduring CME activities by precisely targeting HCP learners by specialty, real-time location, and other insights.

myCMETM PULSE: Provides HCPs an easy-to-use mobile forum to take part in a self-assessment educational activity.

myCMETM BRIEF: Engages HCPs with an accredited educational activity delivered entirely within the body of an email.

The INNOVISION family also includes myCME™ TOWN WALL, a program connecting thought leaders with thousands of learners via computer in a dynamic, interactive, real-time platform. An in-studio moderator interacts with faculty who appear on a 40-foot video wall, each participating from their remote locations.

The INNOVISION family of mobile products has exponentially enhanced myCME's value proposition by giving it targeted reach across 98% of the medical community using mobile devices and among the 2.2 million Haymarket Medical Network users representing 50 specialties.

Since its launch in January 2018, HME/myCME has realized double digit growth in sales from several different grants supporting INNOVISION products and myCME TOWN WALL.

INNOVISION represents a forward-looking, forward-thinking, on-the-cusp response to the "mobile-ization" of our society that will transform the learning experience for HCPs and make quality educational experiences readily and conveniently available in ways not possibly foreseen even a decade ago. myCME's investment in the INNOVISION mobile platform has reinforced our position as an innovative and visionary full-service medical education company, both within the organization and among the external medical education community.

Creating a New Revenue Stream

Education Week

Education Week Online Summits

Education Week serves the K-12 education community, primarily educators running schools and school systems, as well as the teachers who educate America's students.

Education Week's Online Summits are a unique product in the journalism world. This hybrid concept invites participants to utilize a platform originally intended for online job fairs to discuss niche issues in K-12 from STEM education to Personalized Learning, Student Assessment, Social and Emotional Learning and more.

This produced a moderate-lift, strong revenue editorial event that engages readers, captures sponsor dollars, and showcases Education Week’s newsroom expertise, differentiating it from the competition in the field. In the decade Education Week has been producing live and virtual events, it’s yet to be able to register over 2,500 people for editorial content and at the same time, sell that content to sponsors providing both targeted, qualified leads and rich editorial, niche content to our readers simultaneously.

In the first year of this product line, editorial and sales have agreed to produce 8 (eight) summits with a revenue goal of $60,000 in sponsorship dollars per summit.

The registration for these summits has not dipped below 2,400. Education Week is seeking to keep the numbers of registrants up around 2,500 total leads for the product. It has roughly 750 to 1,000 live participants in 6-10 "discussion rooms" on different aspects of a single niche topic in K-12 education. The discussions are then followed by a livestream discussion with the Online Summit editor and reporters reviewing what the readers said are the issues keeping them up at night. The livestream section also provides Education Week the opportunity to showcase its reporters' deep knowledge and provide concrete takeaways to the readers who asked the questions.

The Online Summit concept has unified five different departments to produce a single new revenue stream: production, sales/marketing, art dept, and of course the editorial team in a collaborative, editorially-rich "product" that the reporters actually like producing, readers sign up to engage with, and that the sponsors have a high interest in.


Thought Leadership Index

Over the last ten years, Imagination clients and many other organizations have stated that one of their primary business objectives is to improve their thought leadership position with their target audiences. Unfortunately, up until now, there hasn't been a proven method for effectively and critically calculating the drivers of thought leadership, an organization's leadership position versus their competitors and in the minds their customers.

In 2017, Imagination's management and analytics team began investigating the drivers and measurements of successful thought leadership. After developing a hypothesis, strategy and measurement formula, Imagination validated its methodology with Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism's market research team. In 2018, Imagination sold its first annual thought leadership study to its largest association client, The Project Management Institute. Calculation of the annual Thought Leadership Index is a six-month process utilizing digital metrics, third party analytics, competitive analysis and an independent research study.

The TLI was presented to PMI's executive team and board of directors in the fall of 2018 and was such a success that they committed to repeating the study again in 2019 not only for their association but also a second sturdy for their joint venture content start-up with the Boston Consulting Group.

The annual Thought Leadership Index is a profitable $100K+ plus revenue stream per client that by design is self-renewing year-after-year in order to measure and track their marketing strategies effectiveness in achieving thought leadership. The study not only provides a measurement tool that justifies content marketing investment but also analyzes what specific strategies are effective or should be changed. The result is that Imagination clients now have an innovative analytics tool that measures marketing investment success and Imagination gains long-term commitment to execute marketing tactics that have a measurable impact.