I remember the days when getting assigned to digital was a dreaded moment for anyone in broadcast, circa 2000. It was a form of punishment, a distinct no-confidence vote for mid-level or senior leadership and at the same time an amazing opportunity for young professionals just starting out. For years, the powers that be grappled with technology they knew they should pay attention to and at the same time realized lots of confusion as industries grappled with what the new tech, the web, meant for products and services. It’s an ongoing struggle today. And for the media business dependent on ad dollars, those ad dollars have been slow to move to digital given the ever-evolving metrics.
I remember the days when getting assigned to digital was a dreaded moment for anyone in broadcast, circa 2000.
Still, back in the dreaded days, few media-industry leaders grasped the broad impact the digital revolution would eventually have, from the increasing functionality of mobile devices to the explosive proliferation and use of smartphones and tablets. In short order, they wholly disrupted, and have radically really changed legacy media mediums: broadcast TV, newspapers and radio.
That’s not to say that many incumbent media companies with even mediocre digital experiences aren’t making money today. They are. A lot of it, but for how long? Experts argue strongly their days are numbered. Most of them are currently in a very tough position: how to maintain the integrity and core business of television in a world where cable and the internet have exponentially increased the number of distribution points via seemingly endless channels and sites. Consumer usage across various demographics continues to evolve in a world where Facebook is a main source of content for many.
The problem is worse than solving a Rubik’s cube. Into this mix comes Virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR). How will VR and AR make a big impact and disrupt the media industry (and others) to the same degree as the digital and mobile revolutions did more than two decades ago.
History tells us something new will come and someone will win.
I can’t urge those same powers that be – across the leadership boards in media and entertainment – to invest in this new world. Let’s avoid the same path many took with digital and mobile. “Too little, too late” is not a great strategy. Some really smart legacy companies have had the right instinct to buy their way in through acquisition(s) on the digital side. While not naming names, they much too frequently buy a smaller innovator and then kill it; over and over again.
There are difficult choices like what companies to buy – and why? How to integrate them into the dominant companies’ culture and operations? There are many elements to get right – and I’ve not seen a lot of evidence that the old guard has learned those lessons to pave the way to their future success. I’d love to hear more examples of when it works, and works really well.
My advice: participate fully in the new world, and do so early on. History tells us something new will come and someone will win. There’s no expiration date on innovation. It always comes. Try to remember: there’ll be winners in the long run. Don’t you want to be one of them?