MEET NANCY FRIEDRICH – Executive Director of Content
What are you seeing as disruptive (positive, negative, or both) influences in your industry and markets? Power is an exceptionally dynamic area today, with a lot of development in the area of process technologies in particular. Semiconductor manufacturers overcame some of gallium nitride’s (GaN’s) limitations to implement it in the high-frequency communications sector. Now, the industry is grappling with new and different challenges to implement GaN for power applications. Silicon carbide (SiC) also is an emerging force in power. The drivers for these developments are electric and hybrid vehicles.
Charging also is a hot topic (literally, given the problems with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7). People want their devices and cars to charge more quickly and hold the charge longer. Look for wireless charging and other charging innovations to go from unique to commonplace in the next couple of years. An example is the USB-C connector, which transmits both data and power—maybe the “one cord to rule them all” until we do away with cords?
Many positive changes also stem from the connected nature of everything as we embrace the Internet of Things (IoT). From medical patient monitoring to smart manufacturing facilities, we can now easily collect data. The next step will be to add the artificial intelligence and machine learning that allow us to respond to that information in real time.
How do you foster innovation in your organization? By keeping on top of our metrics—what is resonating most with our audience in terms of content types, search engine optimization, social media, and more—I am able to challenge our content teams to evolve and improve the way they produce content on an ongoing basis. We know so much about our audience members from those metrics; they give us a constant dialogue and opportunity to review and score different content approaches. We can tell what types of articles they are gravitating toward, subjects that are popular, where we can offer more information, etc. As a result, much of my leadership relies on being open to new ideas and supporting the editors as they try new things.
What is the biggest challenge facing your industry today? When I look at our lofty vision of the ideal future, I see smart cars, homes, hospitals, transit systems, etc. Our new smart world will have autonomous transportation, remote medical monitoring and potentially treatments, a truly self-sustaining energy grid, and more. In that world vision, security and reliability become paramount. Data needs to be kept safe and control of these interconnected systems needs to be safeguarded. This means agreeing on protocols and backbone infrastructure, supporting it, and making sure it evolves. There is little room for error when dealing with human lives and well being on such a grand scale. We want to improve our lives, not make them more vulnerable.
What thoughts do you have on the current state of media today? How has it changed for the better or worse? As the joke goes, “If it’s on the Internet, it must be true.” With little website know-how, anyone can create and share content for the Internet. Luckily, our engineering audience is by nature skeptical and self-policing. Engineers will call out content that is false or thinly veiled marketing or self-promotion. With so few independent players left in the US—especially on the electronics side—this has unfortunately become their “duty.” As the #fiercelyindependent media company, we see our role as consistently providing high-quality resources and content that is useful to them in what it reveals about the industry, the technical fundamentals it offers, and how it helps them do their jobs.
Is there something missing in the marketplace that could greatly improve communication with your target audience? In the US, I would say a new in-person event. We have such great trade shows around specific segments like power (APEC) and high-frequency electronics (IMS). Yet there are many areas that aren’t well-represented by an in-person event—from specific technology segments to wide-reaching application areas.
What advice would you give to someone just entering the world of B2B marketing? Strap in! When we say there is no longer a “norm” and that the media industry is dynamic, we’re not exaggerating. As the devices that we use to access information evolve, so do the ways we consume that information, the ways we present it, and how we get our message across. The global Internet audience is fickle as a result of this ongoing evolution, sometimes preferring content one way and then not responding to it six months or a year later. This audience also is largely sick of what it considers “noise”—self-promoting press releases and articles with little technical information beneath their claims, for example. Provide the solid information this audience is seeking, innovate, try new things, and you will succeed in serving this engineering audience—and even gain its hard-earned respect.
What impact, if any, has social media made on your organization or you personally? Social media has given us another avenue with which we can reach our audience and have a sort of “dance” in which we can try different things and see how the audience responds. Again, the goal is to always test and re-think what types of information our audience needs and wants and how it prefers that content to be presented. On a personal level, I have a lot of fun with Facebook and Twitter as an information source and use LinkedIn as both an information source and to maintain contacts and find new ones. I have had a number of excellent job candidates and contractors referred to me, for example, via LinkedIn. All I had to do was put out a simple query to my contacts!
What one thing would you like people to know about you, your company, or your products? Although we of course partner with different companies on various endeavors, we are still an independent media company—one of the few remaining in the US and certainly the largest. As a result, we are leading the market in terms of providing information by leveraging our family of brands—Machine Design, Hydraulics & Pneumatics, Electronic Design, Power Electronics Technology, Microwaves & RF, and SourceESB. This portfolio allows us to cover all aspects of the cycle—from initial design concepts to the sourcing of parts—while delving into the mechanical, electronic, and other aspects of a system. No one does it better today.