Posts tagged ‘Media’

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.

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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

digital asset management

Talent is an asset
You’ve got to understand that
Talent is an asset
And little Albert has it
Talent is an asset
And Albert surely has it

In my wanderings across the media landscape I have encountered, “Digital Asset Management”, “Media Asset Management”, “Content Management”, “Asset Management” etc. All terms which each of you have similarly faced. But, why so many terms for the inflection from tape to digital?

I believe the confusion arises out of workflow, product functionality and the need for vendor differentiation. Obfuscation is a remarkable sales tool, and perhaps this taxonomic confusion exemplifies the case of “those who cannot do – sell.”

On a much kinder note, perhaps the confusion is a natural response to a nascent technology, one born out of digital abstraction of a physical entity. You see, when you can touch something, as a human, your perception is that it has some innate value. When you cannot touch it, the value is diminished. Unless we actually have equity in the content, we lose the connection between perceived financial value and the invisible bits which ultimately express the value. In fact, we ascribe value to the infrastructure which enables those bits to be expressed i.e. network, PC, iPod, Plasma TV, STB etc. My theory for why even seemingly upstanding citizens engage in dubious ‘pirate’ activities. I also encountered this mindset in China in the mid 90’s when the value of a CD was in the medium i.e. the plastic, more so that what was on it. Similarly when couriering software and data mag-tapes across continents, customs officials always wanted to know the value of the tapes, not really understanding the value of their contents.

For the record, I gravitate to the term digital asset management. The core of understanding lies in understanding Assets themselves. First a little definition.

Assets have three essential characteristics:

  • The probable present benefit involves a capacity, singly or in combination with other assets, in the case of profit oriented enterprises, to contribute directly or indirectly to future net cash flows, and, in the case of not-for-profit organizations, to provide services;
  • The entity can control access to the benefit;
  • The transaction or event giving rise to the entity’s right to, or control of, the benefit has already occurred.

In normal speak, this is an ability to

  • make money or provide services
  • maintain control or access
  • leverage transactions

This seems intuitively complete for our understanding of the things we need to do to digital content regardless of type. Yet how many digital asset management systems have financial interfaces? Furthermore, how many effectively enable their content with the aforementioned characteristics? How many are just plain digital ‘libraries’ or ‘content management’ repositories?

In the financial accounting sense of the term, it is not necessary to be able to legally enforce the asset’s benefit for qualifying a resource as being an asset, provided the entity can control its use by other means.

This raises another interesting encounter with a recent customer. As a very large content creator, they were not so much interested in protecting their content with DRM as their main customers were Service Providers like broadcasters, cable companies and telcos. They distributed their content via the web, in most cases with FTP, and fully expected their business partner to abide by contractual usage provisions. In fact, if the content were ‘over-utilized’, then in a sense, that is fine by my customer – more exposure. However, their prime concern was ‘editing’ of the content, i.e. changing the creative content, or the storyline, or the brand. As long as the content was edited in compliance with regulations that was OK, but if it was edited to allow more commercial content, then that was not OK.

By extension, media asset management expands my definition of digital asset management, to include the tracking of physical copies of the content i.e. tapes, CDs, manuscripts etc. Hence the usage of the word media, implying all manifestations of content instantiation.

So, when you use the phrase ‘asset’, it is important to understand that the digital content has a ‘value’, and that this value needs to be wrapped with rights to ensure that the maximum equity is extracted for the minimum liability, financial or otherwise.  Failure to do so, in my mind implies that you are only addressing one part of the business, the technical operations.

Without an appreciation of the valuation of their digital inventory, how is a business ever going to evolve to a new digital business model?

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

February 18, 2010 at 1:00 am 2 comments

leadership qualities for innovation

How many questions did you ask today?
Do you believe what the media has to say?
Did your neighbor lose his job or home?
If the leaders tell him to do it alone…
do you believe he should rebuild on his own?
There’s no money left, sorry it’s gone
Where has all the money flown?

I just completed an innovation workshop for a management team in a large media company. One of the most important items in any innovative environment is communication and leadership at all levels. I thought these following leadership qualities were worthwhile sharing with you, for your day-to-day business activities.

  • Persuasion making a strong, valid argument for your various stances and freely sharing your reasons is crucial in gaining respect for them, instead of just compliance. That also implies taking in and valuing the views of others.
  • Patience don’t let your eagerness for achieving your goals translate into impatience at obstacles – whether human or process. Retaining a long-term view of your objectives will help enormously in keep small frustrations in perspective.
  • Gentleness wins hands down over toughness, especially when handling the finer feelings of followers.
  • Mentoring never assume, or appear to assume, that you know all of the answers. Always make it clear you are there to learn as well as to show how. Work to create a culture where diversity and different perspectives are valued above all else.
  • Acceptance be slow to judge. Give people every chance to prove themselves and give them the benefit of any doubt.
  • Kindness practice thoughtfulness in all of your dealings, especially with subordinates. Remember that the small details are often seen as the really important things.
  • Openness be open to all ideas and true information about the people with who you deal. Consider their own wishes, values and aspirations rather than only their apparent behavior.
  • Compassionate confrontation to create an environment where you can draw attention to mistakes and changes in direction without crushing people or discouraging risk-taking.
  • Consistency your style of leadership should not be seen as something that you ‘bring out’ when challenged or to deal with crisis. If you strive for consistency, it will be a reflection of your principles and an expression of your character.
  • Integrity let your words, true sentiments, thoughts and deeds line up with one another for all to see.

Innovation is a way of life. It allows you to cope with change and to develop new strategies for personal growth.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

Innovate something today.

January 21, 2010 at 10:41 am Leave a comment

tomorrowland welcomes the curious traveler

Tomorrow’s just another day, another way to spend my day
All by myself
Staring at the TV screen, flipping through my magazine
Everything is unclear
I need you here, doodoodoo
And I wake up, put on my makeup
Pick up the phone, nobody’s home
I need to break out, get me some takeout
Stand inside a crowd, I want to scream out loud
That I’ll be okay
I’ll be okay

Every year I review my clutter of saved articles, and inevitably encounter a really interesting piece that resonates with the current times. So it was at the end of this decade. Here is a piece from Richard Neville, a radical luminary from Australia. He wrote this before the turn of the century, about the mid-late 90’s. So, ten years on, let’s see how this reads today:

“Tomorrowland Welcomes the Curious Traveller – Richard Neville

Ideas on the Rise – Community, everything is connected, a corporate conscience, the worth of the wild, work as a spiritual journey.

Ideas in Decline – Nation states, treating the world as a quarry, technology is neutral, growth is good, work as a commodity to be traded.

  • The growth of genetics will lead to programs that enhance the physical and mental abilities of … the rich.
  • It is predicted that some people alive today will still be alive in 400 years; that’s a lot of shopping.
  • Breakthroughs in genetics mean we are starting to redesign our own species, blurring the ancient boundaries of our coming to life and the leaving of it. More and more of us could become composite beings – part biological, part mechanical, part electronic.  We will adjust our own brains to boost IQ, filter pain and intensify pleasure.  As a super-elite of cyborgs, some of us could end up ruling the world, or be rounded up and dismantled.
  • The fastest growing branch of medicine is plastic surgery.
  • digitized voice replication will convey a faultless reproduction of how we sound.  It will shatter our sense of identity and further disrupt the meaning of “authentic”.  Elvis sightings are a portent.  The King will return to the charts with new material, appear on MTV and promote whisky.

Now that history and fantasy can be blended with seamless conviction, where does it leave the concept of reality?”

Our lusty fling with social media, crowdsourcing and the wisdom of the masses appears to be still ascendant. As for the decline, technology is far from neutral, it is still delivering magical gadgetry and work has become an even more outsourced and traded commodity, partly thanks to technology and communications.

Reality is indeed becoming more virtual. So much so, that meeting someone for coffee, or calling them has been all but replaced with video-conferencing, Facebook, twitter and maybe soon ‘Wave’ing. Ad-dollars are following audiences online and chilling the spines of traditional, more tangible news sources. The noisy, slow, erratic, and wired dial-up internet has all but disappeared. Our Britannica, Compton’s, Funk & Wagnalls encyclopedias have been shelved for Wikipedia. CDs, DVDs (and probably soon Blue-rays) are being replaced by digital downloads, one title at a time. Phone land-lines are being unplugged along with the modem as family plans give household members their own mobility. Film and film cameras have all but disappeared as digital SLRs, pocket-sized digital cameras and even phones are capturing memories instantly and cheaply. Yellow Pages and address books are being recycled while technology ”lets your fingers do the walking” from the printed page to the keyboard. Printed store catalogs morph to the spam of the past, as they move from your mailbox to your inbox. Fax machines are now a feature on multi-function printers and who’s business card still sports a fax number?  Cabling and wires fade from the edge of the network as wireless internet, wireless downloads, wireless charging, wireless headphones become the norm. Writing on paper has been replaced with e-messaging of all types – including this blog.

Perhaps Richard saw something we have missed in this last decade?

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

January 7, 2010 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

who killed the radio star?

So, Radio, Radio
Tell me what i wanna know, wanna know
I’ve been wide awake, staying up all night
Waiting for a song that will make me feel alright.

According to a Nielsen analysis of a media study conducted by the Council for Research Excellence, 77% of adults are reached by broadcast radio on a daily basis, second only to television at 95%. The study found that Web/Internet (excluding email) reached 64%, newspaper 35%, and magazines 27%.

And, in a deeper analysis of audio media titled “How U.S. Adults Use Radio and Other Forms of Audio,” Nielsen found that:

  • 90% of consumers listen to some form of audio media per day
  • The 77% who listen to broadcast radio surpass the 37% who listen to CDs and tapes and the 12% who listen to portable audio devices.
  • Almost 80% of those aged 18 to 34 listening to broadcast radio in an average day.

In an earlier post, technology creates media businesses, I made the point that new technologies create new businesses. And they do. It does not mean that they always create them at the expense of other businesses. Although they eventually do. What it does mean, is that the money within an industry gets redistributed. And that is the current problem with media.

The iPod has not seemingly killed radio, but it has impact even in this demographic. As I have intimated in generational differences and graphed in technology creates media businesses there are probably more significant changes yet to occur. These differences cannot be measured (or readily considered) by surveys, such as those that introduced this blog.

We are seeing less money per listener in radio. Just as we are seeing less money per subscriber in newspapers. These were early forms of mass media. Is this because the nature of society is changing? That the mediums are becoming more efficient? That new forms of media are competing for the same dollar? Or, all of the above?

I say it is all of the above. Media is evolving. The problem is that we don’t know the end-state. If we did, we’d know what business model to develop. Until we do, enjoy the book and stop trying to flip to the last page. There is no last page. Never has been in media, and likely never will be.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

November 12, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

the seven pillars of media

And I see things
That no one would ever glimpse
As your eyes roll back
And the real party begins
And I feel things
That I’m not supposed to feel
As I reassure myself
That I’m nothing but a jewel upon your crown

This week I discuss a new tool that I have developed in exploring mediums. It enables classification of mediums from both the perspective of consumers as well as that of the business and marketplace. I have called it the 7 pillars, because I am unashamedly trading off T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom, and the themes of change, challenge and sustainability contained therein.

This framework contains seven pillars which support the media business and is weighted to look at things from a consumer perspective. Why? In the end, media is about the consumer, the audiences, demographics and psychometrics to which the consumer belongs, to their purchasing power and their consequent aggregated ability to endorse or demote marketplace media preferences.

Back in April, 2009 in why target, I made reference to the fact that consumers have three things to trade with a media company:

  1. Privacy (P) – by identifying their attributes, consumers add value by enabling the medium to build monetization cases by clearly measuring and demonstrating value to purchasers of advertising and sellers of content.
  2. Money ($) – either directly through paid subscriptions or subsidies, or indirectly through purchasing advertised content, goods and services.
  3. Time (T) – the amount of time that they spend with the medium and thus building equity in the audiences that are subsequently monetized.

Each of these are shown in the table below…

Consumer Dimensions

Business Attributes

I have started mapping these attributes across clusters of similar mediums, and present TV mediums as the first in this series.

The Lounge room TV experience

Clearly displayed is the technical dominance of and consumer potential that IPTV promises as a medium. However, being better does not count too much if you don’t have market share, and this is where the traditional players of cable, satellite and terrestrial TV shine. Note that IPTV encapsulates my thinking on both walled-garden as well as Over The Top, but in all cases, this is the ‘lounge-room’ experience.

Each of these mediums displays a footprint that broadly reflects the ongoing business model viability ‘at present’. It shows comparative capabilities and offers a quick visual to suggest potential areas of competitive improvement.

It is not perfect, but it does provide a very useful discussion tool, a common language for dialog and a real way to connect with the customer who is now driving the business.

I have analyzed all mediums in greater detail, and explained my justification for the scoring. These scores will be updated each quarter with new observations, press coverage and anecdotal information.

Change is certain, but guessing the future is still very precarious – especially in the media business. As stated by Edgar R. Fiedler “He who lives by the crystal ball soon learns to eat ground glass.”

Nonetheless, it is a tool that hopefully you’ll find useful.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

October 29, 2009 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

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