Wednesday, March 17, 2010

MBA: Optimization/Priorities

What are the primary objectives of your organization (Profit? Growth? Market Share? Reputation?)

ESPN’s primary goals are profit, growth and reputation. Additionally, ESPN.com adds market share to that list.

ESPN.com tries to turn a profit in several ways. These include sponsorship (Gatorade buys and application or scoreboard, and it becomes “The NCAA Scoreboard by Gatorade”), advertising (typically banner ads which pay us either per click or by “renting” space on our site) and Insider subscriptions (users can pay us money for “premium content”).

In terms of growth, ESPN.com recently acquired Cricinfo.com, the world’s largest Cricket Web site, began a Community initiative, which includes social networking, widgets and p2p communication, and opened offices in London and Brazil.

ESPN.com recently made market share an objective as sites such as Yahoo Sports! and FoxSports.com have grown in percentage. The long tail of sports web sites also has consumed a larger and larger portion of users.

ESPN.com highly regards its reputation or brand. Many of the decisions ESPN.com makes will not make a profit, but we execute them in order to strengthen the overall ESPN brand.

Have these objectives been prioritized and communicated to decision-makers?

Every year, both ESPN and ESPN.com sets four to five company-wide priorities that almost always deal directly with one of the areas mentioned above. I have been in groups where I felt like the decision-makers did not know how to communicate to the developers and producers how they could be working toward these goals. That said, my current group sits down when these priorities come out and creates individual goals and milestones that directly related to company goals.

Has your organization provided clear, measurable objectives for managers?

ESPN does provide clear, measureable objectives for managers. As mentioned above, the company goals are pretty straight forward. For example, one year, ESPN set reaching half a million Insider subscriptions as a goal. Another year, it set becoming number one in Fantasy sports as a goal. This year, ESPN tasked us to reach 20 million unique visitors a month.

What technical tools are available to promote optimizing decisions within your organization?

Individual groups usually institute they own technical tools for optimizing decisions. That said, we do have access to SAP, which provides such tools, but they are limited and not widely used to my knowledge.
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