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INNOVATION PUSH

SPH launches Innovation Day as it steps up its transformation drive

Employees present new product ideas developed in a 100-day innovation initiative called Project Storm

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The teams worked with innovation partner Venturetec in an accelerated innovation training programme where they learnt structured approaches to innovation.

Singapore

PEOPLE looking for renovation contractors and piano teachers often go online to look for recommendations - but not all of these tips can be trusted.

This is where Gate, a reviews and recommendations platform that targets parents, comes in. Presented as one of the product ideas of an innovation initiative by media group Singapore Press Holdings, the reviews and recommendations platform allows users to identify reviews written by trusted sources.

"Today's online forums exist in a twilight of trust, where fake accounts and trolls make it hard to know what we do in the shadows," said The Business Times deputy news editor Kenneth Lim, who was part of the five-person team behind the platform.

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"We are a gatekeeper for trusted recommendations. When it comes to online recommendations, Gate helps you to let the right one in."

The platform allows users to look for and follow people they know and trust. It also identifies reviews written by those in the same social circle.

Mr Lim and his colleagues developed the platform as part of a 100-day innovation initiative called Project Storm, with its culmination being marked by SPH's first group-wide Innovation Day.

Started in April, Project Storm features three cross-functional teams of 20 SPH employees looking to create new product ideas and bring them to life. The project is also aimed at cultivating a more entrepreneurial and innovative culture within the company.

Teams worked with innovation partner Venturetec in an accelerated innovation training programme where they learnt structured approaches to innovation. They also tested and validated their ideas.

The teams then pitched their new product ideas to an executive panel comprising the media company's senior management, including CEO Ng Yat Chung and deputy CEO Anthony Tan, for the opportunity to further develop their concepts and market them.

The pitches were conducted at an innovation event on Wednesday, which also showcased designs for SPH's new dedicated innovation spaces.

Besides Gate, other product ideas included a website called KareerKlymber.com, which aims to give millennials career management advice, as well as to sell to them services such as lifestyle activities.

Another product idea was a platform called One Parenting, which serves two functions: as a community platform for young parents to share their children's milestones and to track their children's growth, as well as to seek parenting tips through the use of the platform's artificial intelligence system.

The company's staff had the chance to vote on their favourite product ideas proposed by SPH's senior management, offer their own suggestions for new projects and products, and learn from the experiences of the employees who participated in the 100-day innovation project.

"Innovation is an often-used buzzword, but what it means in SPH's context is to become more customer-focused and develop a deeper understanding of our audiences, so we can offer them more engaging content and products," said Mr Tan.

"Our employees are an essential part of our journey to become a tomorrow-ready media business and they are extremely motivated to be part of this exciting transformation."

SPH intends to train a critical mass of its employees in innovation skills such as design thinking, customer-centricity and digital proficiency as it steps up its transformation into a future-ready organisation.