Archive for March, 2010

the business edge

I walk along a thin line darling
Dark shadows follow me
Here’s where life’s dream lies disillusioned
The edge of reality

Over the past decade or so, ever since the cost of streaming from a video server became just as, or more affordable than, playing content from tape, asset management has come to the fore.

I’ve covered asset management before in a few posts, most notably in digital asset management, but I sense two new paradigms emerging.

Indulge me.

Paradigm shift #1 – archive everything – and worry about it later… this is problematic, simply delaying the inevitable. A problem awaiting solution.

One of the first directives in moving to a digital world, is the management of ingest – the digitization of content and capturing its metadata. The emphasis is on transformation. Very quickly follows the stewardship and protection of the content and metadata, followed by utilization and transformation to other formats.

Unsurprisingly, this leads to a proliferation of content. And correspondingly, the need to develop efficient usage strategies employing the disciplines of IT economics as encompassed by the time, space, bandwidth tradeoff. Just like analog magnetic signals need rusty ribbon, bits require spinning rust, or rusty ribbon. But bits can be compressed…

Now comes the paradox. What do you keep, what do you toss? What has value today, what could have value tomorrow? How do you know?

Because the answers are not clear – the future never is – most is archived, just in case.

Paradigm shift #2 – manufacture and scaling – because content is digital I can provide my customers with whatever format they want… the computer does the work anyway.

Not quite. There comes a time when the cost of the infrastructure to create and maintain the content needs to be considered as a manufacturing process – creativity not withstanding. You see, once the creative process has developed the ‘master’, just as in a good design, the process hands over to the replication for monetization.

Correspondingly, one needs to start looking at the manufacturing plant, the place where the masters are stored, where the grid is located, its capabilities and how it is utilized, where the distribution points are located and the size of the transports leaving the factory etc. This starts to look very much like a process optimization and inventory management exercise, further complicated by consumer demand cycles and on-demand manufacturing and distribution.

Here’s the contention. Asset management used to be the nexus between business systems and the technical/operations infrastructure, because the currency was ‘digital content’. We’ve moved beyond asset management into a world where the currency is on-demand manufacture and delivery of content, and so the new tool is process orchestration and flexible infrastructure integration. What is that tool? Middleware. Media-enabled of course.

The edge of business influence in media operations has shifted closer to operations.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

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March 25, 2010 at 1:00 am 1 comment

taking a break

Somebody’s after me, I can’t pretend to be
Something I know I’m not
And when they come for me – I’ll just let them be
‘Cause all that I need today, I need today

In the linearly scheduled TV world, in addition to pitching products and services, commercial breaks provided viewers time for a nature break, or other quick activities.

Recently, at a partner conference in Paris, it became painfully clear to me that mobile phones are the next really big target for advertising. Yes, I had intellectualized the acquisitions of AdMob etc. but what I heard, really internalized for me the importance of this very substantial media transition.

Media research has shown that though more new media platforms are created, there seems to be more time devoted to all of them. In fact, at this conference several things clicked:

  1. Integrated backoffice applications are evolving to integrate the distribution infrastructure with the revenue generating and management  aspects of the business.
  2. These applications have a very IT-centric approach, agnostic to medium underpinning, and they treat both content and transactional metadata as – data. All measurable, scalable and manageable over an IP network.
  3. The mobile device is a very personal, and personalizable appliance. It is with the user on average about 14 hours per day. A very captive, targetable audience.

So, do we need scheduled breaks from media? Or, are we destined to be personally targeted for interruption whenever nature, or the advertiser calls.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

March 18, 2010 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

who’s getting it?

Someone who gets me
Someone who lets me be who I am, not who I’m not
And never gonna be
Who won’t misdirect me
Someone who gets me

Who in the world would ever have thought that one day Google would give the keynote address at Mobile World Congress?

It’s not just about apps.

Recently it has become very clear to me that the core of the Telco’s SDP infrastructure is becoming very IT-centric. It is also being integrated very effectively into the business and marketing functions of the enterprise. This is a radical departure from the days where internal communication was via job-tickets etc. It is almost getting to the point where Telco’s are becoming very large IT-network infrastructures that are exposing their capabilities for other organizations to use. Telco’s have embraced IP and IT and are searching for ways to increase their value. They’re doing it with an integrated business infrastructure that increasingly controls the underlying network core. And their business models are moving to realtime bandwidth and topology arbitrage. As I have long said, it’s not just about the cornflakes, but it’s about getting them to the customer in the cheapest manner possible. It would appear that retail distribution is coming to telco in more ways than originally expected.

Now Google is trying to create an industry wide infrastructure, which is almost the next generation of abstraction beyond the efforts of the telcos.

And as the cost of IP content delivery approaches parity with multicast RF distribution schemes – game over.

Contrast this to the newsprint, cable, satellite and broadcasters. What many call the ‘traditional’ mediums. Many are still debating the fine line which separates IT from the ‘content’ side of the business. Their obsession with control seems to be inhibiting the innate desire for bits to flow seamlessly through the business. Why the difference? More importantly, how are these entities going to compete in a world where the primary game in town is a mobile-oriented, increasingly cash-rich generation of audience. Of the media-types previously listed, it would appear as though the print industry may have just been given a reprieve – a gateway into that mobile audience.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

March 11, 2010 at 9:13 am Leave a comment

the value of experience

Downsized I guess I shouldn’t be surprised
Two faced the time has come to be replaced
Betrayal, tiny minds
Something sinister’s going on behind

Before economic rationalism took a stranglehold on the global economy, and the labor market started becoming deregulated, there was a time that management experts did not write textbooks for dummies. In fact, although businesses were generally less efficient, they were inextricably linked to the overall well-being of a country’s economy, and the prosperity of its citizenry.

When up-, down-, right- and optimal-sizing became the vogue for  business narrative, they came with their alter-ego of poorer service, lower quality goods, stakeholder marginalisation and shareholder intrusion. Somehow, balance was lost. In fact, much knowledge and equity in each individual was also lost.

The Media Business was not immune against this backdrop of free-market fundamentalism.

In fact, the corporatization of media has manifest itself as:

  1. Bland, formulaic content production. Safe investments in block-busters, special effects and ‘easy-listening’ radio stations. All under the seemingly prudent guise of giving the audience what it wants while preserving cash flow… what would have happened if the audience had been ‘trained’ differently by the media? Not possible? Then I guess you’re telling me that advertising and promotion don’t work (!)
  2. Ruthless focus on the bottom line. An essential factor in successful businesses. However, this has not only stifled self-motivated innovation, but has mortgaged the future to preserve the present cash-flow. What would have happened if the print media had actively embraced the web and truly found ways for people to pay? What would have happened if local TV stations didn’t ‘give away’ web advertising as part of a bundle in order to maintain¬†broadcast margins? Not possible? Essential. By not actively engaging in change, that change has been thrust upon those very same businesses in a very ruthless fashion.
  3. Devaluing the core value proposition of media... Huh? Media is in the news and entertainment business. The medium is the message for dissemination of information, entertainment and experiential pathos, with clear deference to Marshall McLuhan. Moving away from this precept has affected the core equity of media, the medium is “not the message” when it comes to business.

So, where are the experienced executives leading us through this change? My guess is that many are securing their bonuses, before the next re-structure kicks-in. Till then status quo.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

March 4, 2010 at 1:00 am Leave a comment


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