Archive for September, 2009

Media business revenues are dropping so might your Company’s!

Posted in Community, Digital business, innovation, Web 2.0 on September 29, 2009 by Geir Stene

T-Ford business modelThe challenges are huge and concern all of us. Rapid changes are hard to handle. I put an image of a car with this blog posting. What does that have to do with the media industry? Henry Ford’s introduction of the automated assembly line changed the car industry.

In short, his actions forced the whole of the car industry to adapt. It took years for them, and at a point it seemed that a Ford was the synonym for a car. In just a few years the market had changed. “Everyone” could afford a car, and not only the wealthy.  Only twenty years later the Ford Company got  problems. Competitors start to offer cars in all kind of fancy colors. Henry Ford didn’t realize the change; he still lived by his “old winning strategy” and the famous quote:  “The customer can have any color as long as it is black”. This looks a bit like how the media industry meets their challenges nowadays.

The audiences are moving away from traditional media arenas, toward social media arenas. We know the news papers are in trouble with dropping readers. Also in the online news business descent revenues are hard to achive. www.vg.no has to let 10% of their online staff leave. The 4th largest commercial TV station in Norway www.tvn.no closed down their TV news this week. What happens when media revenues drop as they do so for the time being? Advertising companies also get into trouble, and so are businesses trying to market their products and services.

There’s been a lot of focus on social media the last year, and a lot of confusion. It does not seem like businesses, nor the media industry, is as eager to embrace the phenomena social media as the users of internet are. Strategy Analytics inc. reports that 628 million users today are active users of social media. That is 60% of all broadband users.( Businesswire.com) Within the next five years it’s expected that Social Media Applications, such as MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and Flickr, will attract over one billion broadband user.

The media industry seems like they would rather that social media didn’t exist. Companies and businesses seems like they think; it’s a “hype” and of no real relevance to their marketing and sales strategies. If one look at the point of the Gartners “Hype curve” is that it starts off as a “Hype”, and develops into mainstream. Social media have become mass market phenomena, whereas the media and advertisement business, yet haven’t understood it. Advertising companies seems like they don’t know quite what to do about it, but are trying to figure out what’s going on. In this perspective we do have “power to the people”. Except that it’s a downward spiral. From somewhere and somehow revenue streams have to be involved. Content and news won’t continue to exist without it. Advertisement requires a belief of a return of investments from a business perspective. If the media industry looses their audiences, advertisement will lose businesses interest, but what to do then?

The confusion is great. Businesses search for some to answer the question, what to do? Media doesn’t seem to have the answer, advertisement companies seems to go by the media industry and would probably have liked things to continue as before. But people have embraced the “hype” social media to an extent that cannot be overlooked.

Few business developers in the media and advertisement business seems to have looked closely at how do the revenue streams in the internet business function as is? What kind of activities are at the internet, and how are they providing added value to the customers and the market? The media and news industry will need to adapt to the environment they have their audience in. Advertising companies will have to change in order to provide their customers with product that meet audiences in totally different manners than we are used to.

Companies will need to market their products, in order to do so they will need to go where the audiences are, and meet the customers in manners of which the customers can engage in. It amazes me that Management in companies today seems to not understand the importance of social media and what business changes are required to be able to meet their customers in a rapid changing world.  Avande reports that 75% of management admits that social media is important 60% doesn’t have social media on the agenda, and only  18% have some kind of strategy. I expect to see some huge surprises the coming years, where established businesses will lose their market shares, and even disappear all together, whereas unknown companies will grow huge in a very short time. It’s time to watch out and be proactively present to avoid being left behind.

I’ve written several blog postings (below) about this what, and how I believe that business models and revenue streams will be created. My point of view is shared by many and the key point are like Strategy Analytics report in their latest  report, The People’s Revolution: Implications of Web 2.0 and Social Media Applications, notes that media companies must view social media both as a tremendous opportunity and a competitive threat. The report also concludes that the ability to develop successful targeted advertising techniques will be the key to long term financial viability for social media sites.

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Should we be cloning the marketing directors?

Posted in 1, Community, Digital business, IT and communication, Web 2.0 on September 22, 2009 by Geir Stene

semantic web To me it seems like we first took advertisement into the web ‘as is’, then we discovered that the web have som neat add-on’s, like measuring what’s going on.

Rapidly someone found out that retail is a business that works on the net. And then, classified, or was that the other way around? In any event, not much changed. Maybe Social media will ?

I’m not going into traditional Campaigns, commercials, ads, banners and so forth. What they all have in common is that they are “old style push advertisements” and function as such. I’m not sure what effect they have (less, similar or better than in the traditional advertisement world of radio, TV and print media) but I would expect that traditional measurements would tell. The “new” in the digital world is that you can measure “exact” by web statistics, click rates and so forth. And we got SEO, SEM and more…

I’m not going into online retail-, travel- /booking- or various sorts of classified of solutions either. There are many well proven concepts of how to bring products to market and make revenues. Amazon.com is one of the oldest “best practice”. The gain these businesses have had “going digital” is mainly in the speed up of decision making  and transaction solution enabling a sale there and then, with less hassle than having to get the customer from an advert to the shop. Further developments have been to interact with the customer by polls, evaluations, suggestions and recommendations. We have also seen new businesses comparing products and prices and offered customers a “product search” and businesses traffic.

The usage of interactivity in marketing isn’t new, but the options provided by new digital tools and/or channels/ media are interesting.

Some have taken the campaign strategies a step further by establishing communities like Libresse or Nike. The interactivity, discussions and so forth help building a stronger relationship between the brand and the customers. It’s a kind of concept that also is used for product development, support improvements and so forth. Some others have gone into the gaming business and used campaign where virtual /role-play games are combined with introducing a product e.g. a new film, book and so forth

Usage of YouTube is interesting because anyone can post a video promoting, in some manner, products or services. So far this is a pure Push commercial, nevertheless we have seen viral activity, where people start making their response by own versions, as an ironic (or sarcastic), comical or plain commenting  videos. Some companies have understood this and taken advantages of it and used it in their overall campaigns.

There are a lot of other examples that mostly have made concepts that are more or less the same as always (read print and push mechanisms) with some digital add on functionality. Some of the “new” thoughts have been: “Don’t try to attract the audience to you – go to where your customers are” And now companies are pouring into Facebook, Twitter and so forth, and what happens? Too much push mentality, to little new concepts or too little reflection on what to do in these social media.

A marketing strategy in the digital world will have to look into all of these options and make use of the, in order to reduce cost and/or increase sales. More important in the coming years will be to implement multichannel strategies that includes the real world, and make some work flows of; where, what, how, why and when the company and their customers are interacting and conducting the purchase process.

Another aspect is that it seems absent for the moment that I believe will become very central is not to have everyone in your company going into social media by “cloning” them into many” small marketing directors” doing the same as usual; spamming the audiences with commercial messages in every channel possible. I believe that a key to success is to listen and engage within the frame of the profession and tasks people have in their organization and use the gained knowledge to develop the company, its products and services. That means that product development dep. Listen to trends, engage in how a great product should be. Designers looks into design and discuss function and aesthetics, the support division listen to what people have of trouble and provide answers and so forth.

And I’d like to see more of Business intelligence, structured data, tagging and semantic web strategies put into effect and combined with solutions of providing the motivated customer with the wanted offers. This will enable a whole new way of not doing factual measuring by looking backwards, but rather forward. If you know what your audience/ customer wants you can give it to them, instead of looking at history and try to figure what you did wrong.

If you want you can look at a PPT presentation about this subject at slideshare.net

I’m not angry at google.com and the NAA, just very, very disappointed!

Posted in Digital business, innovation, IT and communication on September 13, 2009 by Geir Stene

Beggar_cup_coinsI should have charged 5 $ in cash,- but what the heck I’ll do it for free!
It’s just amazing, and I’m not sure if I’m reading what I do. Google.com wants to establish a micro payment system for content? Google.com wants to use their “Checkout” system and they are about to finishing their new platform.

It was Andreas Wiese in the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.no that told me he wrote an article (print only)about it and I went out and bought the “old style” print paper (Print and coffee has a certain fragrance that’s so delicious!)

Please Google.com; correct me if I’m wrong. Why should Google provide this micro payment service only for one kind of business (Online newspapers)? To me it’s obvious that Google want everyone on the planet to “check-in” at Google in the morning, before you go to work, and that you should start give away some of your hard earned money before coffee; to Google, and why? Because Google want you to? Could you imagine a better reason? “Oh – if Google want me to pay, then it must be OK.”

It took me less than two minutes research to find that Nieman Journalism Lab, by Zachary M Seward published the story the ninth of September 2009.(at their page you can download the actual memo sent from Google.com to The News Association of America. NAA had sent out a request for paid-content proposals.)   The Wall Street Journal, blogs, Reuter blogs and a lot of media around the world followed up and states their skepticism.

Looking closer into this I can’t see that any newspaper would want this, less accepts it. It’s NOT Visa (or the like) providing a micro payment system to content producers!  It’s NOT someone independent from the content! It’s Google.com. Google.com is a “content collector” of huge dimensions, with an established power structure, in reality without competitors, which should make lots of us very uncomfortable as is. Enabling Google with yet another angle of attack to the market would be highly dangerous. Media- Publishing houses, news organizations and a lot of other businesses should really think twice. How to be able to conduct business in an independent manner? If Google controls access (via their search results), a huge amount of knowledge about users and content and also (with this idea) be in charge of, and control every possible entrance point to access content itself, and by that get an economic advantage for free? Why should the media- news and publishing industry ever think of this? It’s selling out their value for a cup of a beggar coins, when google really should pay them for making such a pleseant living out of presenting news organizations (and all others) content!

This idea of Google threatens the free enterprise and in reality represents a wish to create a monopoly that very few gouvernments, competitors, enterprises and end users around the world should accept.

Looking into Goggle.com’s business idea itself, I really can’t see how Google dares to go there. This is challenging everything users of the Internet know about the Internet and wants it to be. It’s like arguing that the democracy shouldn’t have elections anymore. It could possibly ruin Google as a company, not only damaging the brand.

Furthermore; micro transactions as a revenue stream for Google and  for content producers is a very primitive business model. And I really don’t understand how Google.com, which sits on the options to develop lots of far more lucrative business models, can even think of this. I just don’t get it. For the news- media and Publishing business it’s equally a primitive business model in a digital environment. In my opinion it will onlybe an obstacle and reduce the speed of innovation and leave businesses (including Google.com) with far less revenues than they can with alternative models. We know this because telecom-, community-advertising and  e- commerce businesses (to name a few) have far more advanced and lucrative models installed already. And the developments of those will become far more prosperous in the near future.

So why? Why at all Google? The risks involved, the critics, the oppositions Google will meet, from competitors, governments, and the world wide public may very well put Google in a very unpleasant situation.  To Google and the media industry; neither of the two parties are in such bad state as the woman in the classic Mad TV skit, so I say as the therapist  – Stop it!

Seven” right things” to do in digital business today

Posted in 1, Community, Digital business, innovation, IT and communication, Web 2.0 on September 11, 2009 by Geir Stene

Image no 7

As I’ve seen around the world, in blogs, whitepapers and  in discussions with clients everyone realize that we are in a transformational age. But the transformations aren’t isolated to the area of internet and computing business. The world is interconnected!


Seemingly everyone want to be prepared for the ongoing changes, but too many doesn’t know what to do.  Quite a few know what they need to do, but doesn’t know how, and some know what and how, but haven’t found the means or the business models ensuring that it will work. It’s essential to understand that your digital involvement isn’t detached from the rest of the world. There is no “virtual” OR “real life” it’s both virtual AND real life at once.

Your business might be in a situation where there isn’t a choice; it’s either change now or vanish? Your business might be in a situation where the challenge is if you should wait or not?  History shows that those who doesn’t act in times of recession have lost market shares when times are great again. The winners are those who act in times of ressession.

What windows of opportunities do you have in your surroundings? There’s always an option that can be taken advantages of. As readers of my blog would know there are some hints that could guide you to do “the right thing” and find your window of opportunity.

Seven “right things”to do in the transforming world:

1)      Clarify your purpose of the business!
Ensure that your business has a purpose beyond just providing profit for the stockholders. Ensure that the benefits for your customers, and also the society as such, are clearly understood. If your business has an ethical perspective on their activities it’s more likely that you will have a strong position in a transformed society.

2)      Be social!
We are all social beings. That means that your business needs to be social too. We would rather like to identify, connect and interact with a company that has an interest in their partners, customers and their wellbeing. If your partners, customers have a great dialogue and experiences with your company and services/products, they will tell their network and do very effective marketing for you. Old marketing solutions doesn’t work as well as it used to.

3)      Embrace freedom!
Don’t try to control others, including your staff. If you do the right thing, everyone else will. Give your staff, partners and customers freedom and options to involve in your business. They will all help steer your company in accordance with the purpose of your business anyway. (this doesn’t mean that you don’t put up clear expectations and goals)

4)      Be focused!
Make sure that what ever you involve your business with, that it correspond with your purpose. Do not spread out and partisipate with whatever comes along. This will save you e.g. marketing costs that doesn’t support and enhance the purpose of your business.

5)      Be adaptive!
The challenges in the world, in societies and in business haven’t changed much, but the solution and ways of solving a challenge changes rapidly in transformational times. Make sure that you can change in pace with your surroundings.

6)      Be realistic!
You can’t do everything, everywhere at all times. Start with what you can do today, and go from there, but go as fast as you can, remember things have a tendency to change fast in transformational times. Investments (you can afford) done today are the increased income tomorrow.

7)      Be bold, surprise everyone!
Do things that surprise yourself, your partners and your customers, do something above expectations. There is nothing as wonderful for us than seeing someone doing more that what was expected.

I’ve listed sevengreat examples of companies that have done most of the 7 bulletpoints above, and you can read, research and figure out if there are elements you can make your own, that you can adapt or simply get ideas from. (this is just a very brief list as examples)

Virgin and Richard Branson.
It seems like there is no limit to what this brand can hold. Richards drive and determination makes tings happen.
Choice hotels
in Norway and Petter Stordalen
Look at his engagement in the global heating and how he implements this in the chains of hotels he owns.
Sun, Microsystems
and CEO Jonathan Schwartz blog – look at how he’s able to connect with the market, by being honest about what he wants
Tesla motors

Look at how they managed to get a year long waiting list of people that wanted to actually buy a electric care, long before the car was produced. (And the quality of the web page compared with other car manufacturers)
Gazette Communications
and CEO Chuck Peters
Look at how they are really prepared to transform their news and media companies.
Stormberg
and Steinar J Olsen
Look at how they are able to incorporate a purpose that goes beyond only profit for themselves.
Englegård
and Celine Thommesen
Look at what happens if your purpose and heart is alligned. You don’t need to be big to be sucessful, but you do need to want to do it right, and put a lot of hard work into it.

What’s the business in news nowadays?

Posted in 1, Community, Digital business on September 7, 2009 by Geir Stene

newspaper_imageThere’s an ongoing discussion in- and  outside Norway. The invention of  Internet has challenged how to run a newspaper, media- and publishing  house.
Sales of papers are dropping, so  is the advertiser’s budgets. The  willingness to pay for news on the net  seems like zero. The profit in the business is decreasing. And everyone is wondering what to do?

UPDATE: PPT presentation of this posting at Slideshare.net
Rupert Murdock wants to let people pay for news online. I don’t think he will be successful. Others want to keep news online short, superficial and written”for web” whereas the analogue paper should develop into more “deep digging journalism”. Some believe that the internet isn’t suited for “real critical journalism” This is proven wrong as well.

So the question remains; where is the business in news nowadays? News (in any channel and/or media) has had its basis in ownership to the content. Internet challenges this because the sharing of content is so rapid, and so fluid that you can’t have a story for yourself anymore. The monopoly is gone.

The “old triangle”

The news content and the creation of it, enabled a news organisation to gather a crowd of readers/listeners/ viewers. This gave the business model of selling the paper, subscriptions, classified and not to forget – ads.  But remember the core value has always been the ownership of the content. The connections between content, readers and advertisement has never been strong, because it has never been necessary to develop strong connections between the elements in this triangle.

A“new triangle”?

What if the content isn’t the real value for a media house anymore? Well it isn’t! That’s why media and news organisations now have the decreasing income both in the analogue and the digital environment. Some suggestions have been “go hyper local” become “niche news” I think both are great ideas, but it’s not enough, due to the fact that the idea of what is the core “ownership” haven’t changed into something of real value.

The business needs to have a foundation in a real, functional business model. On the internet there is one business model that is established, and that remarkably enough already is at work also with in the area of journalism, and media, but without the news organisations taking advantage of it – not yet. By deciding that content is no longer the core value, but the sum of participants (and their activities) in the environment is! Social media gather people; their participation creates content and feed journalism in totally new manners, and the connections are already shown to be able to be close, and strong.

Businesses like My space, Facebook, Twitter and so forth has it’s value in the amount of active members. The value of the knowledge about users has barely started to be explored, and for the news and media business this is a unique opportunity to dig deeper into this.

What if the real value for the news and media industry is seen to be the knowledge about the interactive and action oriented behaviour of Participants (readers/users)? I believe that one can connect participants, content and advertisement in far better ways that clarify and justify: what’s in it for me for all involved parties. Or, in other words “what’s the purpose?” can be better answered for all involved parties. (see also the blog posting below)

An approach to a new digital strategy?

Posted in 1 on September 5, 2009 by Geir Stene

Digital_Business_map

I’ve started writing on a white paper, where I look at methodologies for creating  improved  digital strategies.

I feel that business strategies focus to little on the digital conditions where the business will have to operate.

I also see clearly that marketing strategies, sales strategies and web strategies doesn’t fill the needs in a highly interactive and action oriented digital world.

Putting together a digital strategy will, by its nature be an iterative process, where the overall business idea may have to be changed in order to achieve an optimal digital environment, that in its turn benefit the business idea. Where the overall business strategy will be the main steering document for the business, the digital strategy document will determine what to be the focus in the digital environment to achieve the overall business strategy. Next step in a development will be that the business-, and the digital strategy will merge and become one. Since the digital environment is so complex and interconnected I suggest a very holistic approach. Since the business world have moved direction and become so dependent on the digital environment, I suggest you take the digital strategy very seriously and what you learn by making your digital strategy should reflect back on your overall business strategy.

I’ve started to investigate if  terms like  “Purpose”, “Participation” and “Conditions” as some alternative angles to “vision”, “mission”, “values” and “goals” will improve the final result on a  development of a digital strategy. One reason for this is that operating in a digital environment is very action oriented and interactive,  and I believe that some of the “standard phrases” in a business strategy often becomes a bit to “vishy washy” and not as action oriented and measurable as you would like it to be.
I’m thinking along the lines: What if your business doesn’t have a purpose people understand? Why should someone bother buying it? How can people help you? Have you given people an opening to involve? And if you haven’t looked into the conditions the purpose will live, and how someone can participate, why should it succeed?
Take a look at your business, what is really the purpose? who is (or could) participate and in what way? Does it have optional conditions?

Purpose
What’s the purpose for what you are doing? What is your motivation, the owners and the staff working in your organization? What’s the purpose of what you have to offer? What is the purpose for the digital engagements you have or wants?  What’s the purpose for those who buy your message/service/products? My thesis is by investigating this thoroughly you might find that, your purpose isn’t all that well anchored in the actual business you are running or the market you want to reach? Then it’s no wonder if your business isn’t running smoothly!

Participants
The participants in making your purpose come to live is also a perspective that has to do with having a  dualistic perspective toward what you are doing, and the dependencies you have in others inside, and outside of your business. Because both you and your staff, partners, co-dependents and customers participate in making your purpose happen. In other words everyone that has a part in making your purpose real are participants. One are frequently speaking of stakeholders in the business world. We shouldn’t stop doing so, but still – if anyone would want me to buy a product, idea, service or whatever I’d like it to be of benefit for me and the surrounding world, with no, or as little, risk as possible.  Defining the customer/ client / partner and you as participants enable us to better find out how to fulfill the purpose and get our business better connected with the core of how we all participate in the digital world. Since the digital environment is highly action oriented, you will see that participants act. And in your work with the digital strategy you will discover that enabling action and interactions will be one of the essential elements in a successful digital strategy.

Discover Conditions
Under which conditions is your purpose and participants existing? By investigating the actual conditions the methods to implement the purpose and the way participants will engage is discovered. The structures of power in your digital business world, defining condition in the value chain, business models  and so forth. Evaluating limitations and options in infrastructure, hardware, software and in  the Internet business environment will be important analytic tasks to conduct during your work with the digital strategy. Correlatives between existing relevant purposes (others), participants and conditions can be taken advantages of to fulfill the purpose, with the right participants under the right conditions. The idea is to broaden up the more narrow common approach, that often is using tools like a SWOT analysis and so forth in business strategies. I believe that investigating how to get the best conditions to function together, you will end up changing your overall business strategy. Maybe you discover that what you believed was the core of your business, what drives your business, just maybe isn’t the same into the next decade ?