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Monday, June 21, 2021

C-Suite Advisory

Data is everything – the biggest regeneration tool for your business

Maria (Sin) Hedengren - CEO of Readly

Data is one of the world’s most influential currencies and can be converted into different kinds of values. At magazine app Readly, with users from 50 markets, we now sit on 34 billion data points. We think solar power is a great analogy for data. We keep using it and it keeps regenerating. It makes things grow, if you know how to use it. Here are my insights on what data is everything.

Create user value

With data you are one step ahead and can act when a trend is gaining momentum. For instance, during the second wave of the covid pandemic, we saw a dramatic increase in consumer interest for Craft & DIY (up 81%), Food & Drink (40%) and Interior Design (29%) magazine categories. These are valuable insights that impact advertising and content strategies, as well as serve a basis for business decisions. Give consumers what they want. They are stuck home and are looking for recreation. They enjoy cooking and are keen to re-decorate their homes.

Surround yourself with data analysts

IDC has predicted that in 2025, over 175 trillion gigabytes of new data will be created around the world. At Readly we grow by 1 million data points each hour. That is an ungraspable quantity. I am very happy to have a whole analytics team ready to make sense out of that vast amount of data available. They make the rest of us clear-sighted, to take the right decisions based on facts and don’t jump to conclusions based on preconceived ideas or subjective “gut feelings”. Everytime our Chief Analytics Officer puts his foot down during our Senior Leadership meetings – we pay attention. You simply need a map reader in this complex world.

The other day he told me that our data shows that the dailies on our platform increases the overall reader engagement. We can see an increase in reading activity, both total reading time and average reading time per subscriber, as well as a significant increase of users that uses Readly on a daily basis. Even though it’s too early to draw any conclusions, he said, we also note tendencies of a positive spillover effect on magazine reading as well as an increase in a new user group that only reads the dailies. These are valuable insights that support our strategy of adding more newspapers to our portfolio.

Numbers are boring, people are interesting

I love numbers. But maybe not for the reason you would think. My background before venturing into business administration and finance was the studies of classical languages. I studied Greek, Latin, French, Spanish… Now, how on earth did I then end up spending my next 20+ years in various financial leadership roles before taking on the CEO role? Because the patterns of numbers and data points are a language in itself! It is about learning the language of your business. Becoming the “business whisperer”. What is your business telling you so you can understand where you need to go next? What actions do you need to take? What strategies are the best bets? It is like the late professor Hans Rosling said “numbers are boring, people are interesting”. So back in 2019, we decided to build an analytics tool based on our pool of data. Let’s make the readers come alive in pre-built dashboards so that all the red, yellow and green personalities out there also can become clairvoyant. And now anyone can learn that consumers click a lot on magazine covers that have words like “top list”, “ultimate guide” or “special issue”.

Surveys are all very well, but data is instant

Building new revenue channels, personalising the on-site experience, and increasing advertising revenue are high priorities for the 900 publishers on our platform. The majority still relies heavily on print sales – a physical product where you need to conduct user research in order to learn about customer preferences and behavior. Our industry is at the forefront of a digital shift, and print editions are now available in a digital format. Digitalisation, in other words, can get you instant knowledge. You do not need to wait for survey results to get back. They are already here and ready to serve as a basis for optimization. I can tell you right now, for example, that people have had feelings of spring all week. I know that because the searches for bike, golf and garden went up by 12 percent the past 7 days compared to the previous week.

Shared joy is a double joy

Our ecosystem represents many stakeholders, including publishers, partners and advertisers. They all contribute to the pool of data that the system generates. But you don’t get value from merely capturinging data. Shared joy is a double joy. It is when we put it to use, with the ambition of helping our ecosystem to succeed, that we truly can benefit from data. We know that by sharing data with our partners they become more engaged and are enabled to uncover new business opportunities together with us.

For many of our partners, data strategies are making its way up the list of top priorities. But my guess is that many companies still lack a solid data strategy that fully unleashes the potential of their data. After all, 90 percent of all the data points in the world are left unused. We hope to, at least, make Readly’s data pool utilized as much as possible. That way we’ll bring the magic of magazines into the future.


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Maria Hedengren
Maria Hedengren, CEO of 'all you can read' magazine app, Readly. Maria joined Readly as CEO in spring 2019, bringing more than 20 years of experience from global finance and business management. Maria has led both private and public technology companies and has a proven track record of scaling companies internationally.

Before Readly Maria was the CFO of iZettle during a very exciting time for the company. One of her major accomplishments was taking the iZettle through the process of becoming ready for, and approved by NASDAQ, a planned IPO in May 2018. iZettle was acquired by PayPal for USD 2.2 billion only a day before the prospectus was due to be published.

Maria has successfully scaled and led Readly</a, the European category leader for digital magazines, to an IPO. Since September 2020, the Readly share is listed on Nasdaq Stockholm Midcap.

Maria Hedengren is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine. You can follow her on LinkedIn.