What the #jboye14 afterparty tells us about social media analysis

The J.Boye 2014 conference in Aarhus was – as usual – a great event. Janus has posted some reflections on Storify and there are some clips on Facebook.

 

After the event, however, those of us travelling back to London direct from Aarhus were delayed by 6 hours due to a problem with our Ryanair flight. I mention this not to detract in any way from the conference, but because it provides a good example of how to measure the impact of social media.

 

Initially, we delayed delegates confined our tweets to the #jboye14 conference hashtag. When we discovered that Ryanair were running a Twitter photo competition for people using Ryanair for a weekend break, it was clear we needed to tweet to include the #RyanairFotoFriday too.

 

Within a few minutes of four tweets showing delayed departure boards and compensation vouchers, the plane was fixed and we were allowed to board.

 

How likely do you think it is that the plane was fixed because we were tweeting using Ryanair’s hashtag? There was a very strong correlation, but I’d like to think that there was zero effect of our tweets on Ryanair validating the mechanical readiness of an aeroplane.

 

However, the #RyanairFotoFriday competition closed within a few minutes of our tweets. I’d suggest there’s a much stronger relationship there. Who wants their social media marketing hijacked by a bunch of disgruntled media types?

 

All too often it’s easy to jump to conclusions about the impact our social media campaigns have on our customers. But correlation is not the same as causation. Our tweets didn’t magically fix the aeroplane: an engineer did that and he must have fixed it because we landed safely. It just happened to coincide with our tweets.

 

If you want to see what impact your campaigns are having, you need to have an idea and test it against a data set, not just watch all the data and assume that any correlations were results of some other event. Hypothesis + data = insight, as I said at the conference. Anything else is data phrenology.

 


 

Revisiting MoSCoW

 

Red Square in Moscow.

 

I’ve been struck a few times on recent projects that people don’t seem to understand properly the MoSCoW framework for prioritising requirements. Perhaps I’m being unfair and that the priorities I’ve seen have been warped by over-enthusiastic stakeholders intimidating business analysts, but there’s little point in using this framework unless you’re going to do so with a degree of rigour.

 

So I thought I’d share my interpretation and hopefully this will help you fight your corner when you’re trying to explain to stakeholders how the prioritisation works.

 

Firstly, MoSCoW is an abbreviation of the following priorities: Must Have, Should Have, Could Have, Won’t Need. I don’t know why I’ve seen templates from global organisations which list W as Would Need. What do they suppose that means? They would need it if they could think of a reason why? Anyway, once you’ve the nomenclature clarified, here’s what those headings actually mean:

 

Must Have

The system you’re looking to put in place simply isn’t worth having unless that requirement is met. The requirement is core to the business case and the project benefits. It’s the main reason why you’re looking for a new system in the first place. Any stakeholders who tell you that their requirement is a Must Have, you need to ask them: if the system met all the other requirements, you’d still reject it because it didn’t meet this one? What is it about failing to meet this requirement that would mean we couldn’t meet our Return On Investment target?

 

Should Have

These requirements aren’t necessarily core to the central business case for a new system, but they obviously add value. Since the system you’re adopting is about changing your business models to become more successful, more productive and ultimately more profitable, it would be stupid not to do this when we’ve an opportunity to do so. The stakeholder accepts that not meeting this requirement wouldn’t kill the project, but equally the business recognises that this is a very good idea with a clear ROI and really should be included in project scope.

 

Could Have

Often when you’re gathering requirements you have a clear idea of the kinds of systems that are available and how they can meet your organisation’s needs. These systems do things that are pretty cool which you’d like to do, but current business processes or system limitations prevent you from doing right now. If this feature were available, you’d be likely to benefit from it in future. There’s either a relatively small business case for doing this, or a business case that’s yet to be proven but would probably become clear once you started to use the system.

 

Won’t Need

When a major new project kicks off, lots of stakeholders who’ve been waiting for an opportunity to make a business change to their own area see it as an opportunity to piggy-back their requirements onto the first thing they see that has both budget and traction. The requirement is likely to be valid, but not close enough to the scope of what you’re planning to be applicable to the new project. It can be quite hard negotiating what’s a Could Have and what’s a Won’t Need, but a good way to do this is to provide workarounds or quick wins for the peripheral requirements and demonstrate how you can address these outside the existing project. You need to remind stakeholders that scope creep is a guarantee of project failure and they’re much more likely to get their requirements delivered outside your project than in an über-project whose complexity, budget and delivery date will be continually expanding.
The other kind of requirement you Won’t Need are features offered by a supplier that are outside the remit of your project, but where the vendor is offering another module for a really fantastic deal. Again, remember that scope creep is the enemy of success. Get your supplier to focus on delivering a great solution and establishing confidence, and they’re much more likely to be able to sell in further to your organisation once they’ve developed a solid track record.

 

Over many years I’ve found MoSCoW a really useful way of establishing priorities. It informs business case development, project planning and the way you frame requirements and user stories. But it’s only useful if you get it right in the first place. So stick to the straight and narrow and you’ll get the most from it too.

 


 

Amazon to stop selling books by 2020

Child reading

It seems a crazy to suggest that the world’s biggest bookseller would stop selling books, particularly as I’m not someone who believes the book industry is dying. And Amazon is the dominant force in the book retail market, particularly in eBooks where it has a 65% stake.

 

But here’s the thing.

 

Book sales made up only 7% of Amazon’s annual revenue. In the US, Amazon is being outperformed by other retailers, notably Wal-Mart and Google.

 

Meanwhile, the breakdown of Amazon profits is unclear: some might suggest that this is deliberately obfuscated. However, Amazon is by far the global leader in the provision of Cloud Computing services; it has 5 times the capacity of its next 14 competitors combined.

 

So what you’re looking at is on the one hand a flat-lining business model in which you have a 7% share, and on the other a market growing massively in which you’re the dominant player. Gartner predicts that by 2016, the bulk of IT spend will be on cloud computing. McKinsey predicts the economic impact of cloud technology could be $6.2 trillion annually in 2025.

 

Faced with those figures, who would continue to sell books?

 

Realistically, I don’t think Amazon will abandon book selling completely: it will just become even more of a marketplace. Amazon will be the platform on which publishers (and self-publishers) sell their books and it will retain a commission for doing so: an agency pricing model by another name. Importantly, Amazon will retain all the point of sale data about buying habits that it can use for improving upsell.

 

What this means is that Amazon divests itself of all its stock management issues and simply acts as a channel for customer service, sales and returns. Publishers (and indeed other product manufacturers) will use Amazon’s huge online presence to market their products, while Amazon ensures it uses its data to maximise spend. This also means that Amazon can have an even more tax-efficient model in terms of where it chooses to base its services. We know this has been important to Amazon in the past and it’s unlikely to change.

 

Meanwhile Amazon will focus on cloud computing, extending its dominance and broadening its services. And that’s something that’s going to happen fast. I suggest by 2020, but that’s a finger in the air. If I were Jeff Bezos, I’d be doing this now.

 

See also:

 


 

A new role

A photo of myself pulling a face and waving.

After almost seven years running Contented Management, I’ve decided to take a proper job.

It’s not that I’m fed up with working for myself, or that I’m struggling to find business. Fortunately, I’ve always been lucky enough to find projects to do through a network of clients and colleagues. So let me take a moment to thank all of you who have helped me over this time. The reason for my change is that I’ve found a suitable challenge.

When you work as a consultant, you’re typically asked to fix a process problem. How do we deliver this project? How do we select the right technology? How do we collaborate better using online tools? But the success of those projects is not in the process. Delivering a project on time, on budget and even to pre-agreed objectives is absolutely no guarantee that it’s been worth doing at all. We do tend to measure project success that way but fundamentally, that’s not going to make your CMS work or ensure that people load great, re-usable images in to a DAM. What really interests me far more than the process is the outcome: what did the project help you to achieve?

I’ve been given a great opportunity to do that by the Holtzbrinck Publishing Group, where I’ll be running technology strategy for their Trade companies in the UK. They’ve plenty of author and imprint brands you’l be familiar familiar with whether for adults (Macmillan, Picador, Tor) or children (Julia Donaldson, Kingfisher, Rod Campbell). They’re pretty much the fifth biggest Trade publisher in the world. Those of you who know me best know that I can be somewhat pugnacious on occasion – albeit metaphorically rather than physically – so the idea of working with an underdog really appeals. Ideas won’t flounder on the inertia of the largest corporations or the budgetary constraints of a start-up: there’s an opportunity to do something really creative here.

So what does that mean for Contented Management? It’s going into cold storage. When I can, I shall continue to blog here as me (not my employer!), but otherwise my commercial activities are suspended until further notice.

Meanwhile, I’m really excited about working with great people on challenging projects, where the process is less important that what you get out of it and where I’ll be able to share in achieving real objectives, rather than just walking away after a project’s been delivered.

 


 

The perils of data phrenology

An illustration of the characteristics applied to the skull in phrenology.

Tom Fisburne – whom you really should read; in a marketing world full of crap he really cuts through it, much as Scott Adams once did for management – has a great analogy comparing Big Data to teenage sex. But for those people who actually doing Big Data, there’s a Twainian peril: data phrenology.

Phrenology is the study of bumps on the head, used to assess the character of the head’s owner. Unlike its sister study of chiromancy / palmistry, the -ology suffix makes phrenology sound like a science. It isn’t. It’s about coincidence and interpreting those coincidences so that they appear meaningful. See my point about Big Data yet?

Let me elucidate.

The more data you have, the more chance you’ll find coincidences. And the more you invest in Big Data, the greater the pressure for data insight. In other words, not only do you have a lot of patterns, you’re also under pressure to interpret them. That’s a massive potential trap for your business.

This is particularly true when analysing social media data. A couple of years ago a statistic went round that people who liked Burger King on Facebook would spend a few dollars more on each visit than people who hadn’t liked the Facebook page. The implication was that if you could only get people to engage with you on social media, they’d buy more of your product. But this was a syllogistic fallacy. The truth was that these social media types weren’t driving through Burger King and saying: “I’ve liked your Facebook page, so you’d better supersize me!” These were people who liked to eat burgers and wanted their friends to know about whole beef patties, but hold the gherkins. N.B. We neither endorse nor censure any food products on this site. There was also the possibility that they liked Burger King because it ran some campaigns to get people to promote its Facebook page…

Similarly, if you sample the psychometrics of people who follow you on Twitter and find they also discuss Breaking Bad, that doesn’t mean that you should necessarily go an buy advertising space on HBO. Lots of people tweeted about Breaking Bad, just as lots of people like to watch cat videos on YouTube.

Insight = meaning + hypothesis

Before you even start looking at data, think about about what you expect it to show. For example, is data about your product appearing in markets where it’s not sold, geographically or vertically. If so, there may be some data crosstalk. Michael Jackson didn’t just perform in Thriller, he wrote about beer and commanded the British armed forces.

Why have bothered to acquire the data in the first place? It’s not just going to turn up some results that no one ever realised. There’s nothing inherently mystical about it. It’s a test bed for your business assumptions. A way to test hypotheses.

If you’re seeing spikes and trends in data that match your hypotheses, they’re correct. If you’re seeing those hypotheses fail, they’re probably incorrect. And if you’re seeing something else you need to question that trend’s validity: what happened to create a spike? Is it significant or just coincidence?

If you’ve enough relevant data, it will almost certainly beat any gut feeling about business performance. But you can’t expect it to reveal some kind of hidden truth by itself. If you really want to If you want to get meaningful insight from your data, you need to feel your way past the bumps and recognise that your data is only as useful as the .questions you ask it.

 


 

Want to improve your project? Change its name

Street sign - Casa di Giulietta - covered in stickers and graffiti

Let me start by saying this is a purely anecdotal post. But what is lacks in statistical evidence it makes up for in my own eyewitness accounts of projects doomed to fail. I’m sure you’ll have seen this too.

Time and time again I’ve seen institutions running projects that will significanly affect their day-to-day business, but they clearly haven’t thought about what to call them. They’ve invested in governance processes, supporting tools, getting the right people involved, but not the name of the project.

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.

Juliet knew nothing about project management. If she’d been better at planning she wouldn’t have been so star-crossed.

The name of the project is the thing that’s most readily communicated to the project team and stakeholders. It’s the daily reminder of the work that they’re doing and the benefits that they’re expecting. And yet the name we give a project typically detracts from its core values, with these examples as the most typical culprits:

The new technology

Why oh why have you called this project the “Social Media Marketing project”? Or the “CMS upgrade”? Or the “Intranet replacement”? What useful information could that possibly convey?

  1. Does everyone involved in the project – from the people who’ll use the system to those who have to approve its budget – actually understand what that technology’s supposed to do? Does it really give all the stakeholders a good idea of project scope?
  2. Why are you upgrading? Surely it’s not just so that you can say you’ve the latest version running… or is your organisation full of Apple fanbois? You upgrade because you’re missing key functionality, or because the existing system is underperforming, so at the very least call it a content strategy project which has an upgrade component to it.
  3. And if you’re replacing a system, you’re actually compounding those two issues: do people understand what you’re getting rid of and why, and aren’t you replacing it with something that does a lot more? So it’s not a replacement, it’s a new strategic platform which enables the business to function more effectively. You’re not just throwing a wad of cash at a technology supplier in order to end up with exactly what you had before.

Naming a project after the technology is missing the whole point about what technology is. It’s an enabler, not an end solution. If your organisation thinks that by updating its technology it will solve its problems, you know that you’ll never meet your business goals.

The website redesign

I’m at a loss as to know where to begin with website redesign projects. As with new technology projects, the redesign isn’t an end in itself unless it’s some pure vanity project. The redesign is about improving how your audience achieves its tasks and that usually necessitates people who create content finding new ways to manage it, as well as identification of business objectives, target markets, persona, user experience testing, information architecture and so forth.

But calling a project a website redesign masks an endemic issue. It sets the expectation that once the project is complete, they’ll be no more work to do. Website redesign isn’t a project. It doesn’t have a start and an end. It’s a process of continuous improvement where your web team analyses audience interactions, responds to them and adjusts the website to improve how your organisation communicates with its customers online. If you turn it into a project, you’re effectively saying that you’re not going to fix what you know to be wrong until the project goes live, and that when it goes live you just need to sit back and measure the benefits. That approach is anathema to everything the web stands for: innovation, engagement, simplicity.

Clearly there will always be website projects that need to be run as projects, not least because corporate governance requires it. But they’re not redesigns. They’re projects to improve user experience, or to update a corporate brand, or to plan out a content strategy. Redesigns are fails before you even pass Go.

The acronym or buzzword

Some project management offices think they’re cool. That’s the only explanation that I can find for organisations that give their projects codenames or buzzwords or acronyms.

And guess what: project management offices aren’t cool.

I’ve worked with at least three organisations that called a project Prism. What for? None of them were about optics. It’s just someone thought it was a good idea to call them something cryptic. I’m pretty sure one was an intranet, another was a finance system but I really can’t remember what the third was… document management, perhaps?

The only thing that I can commend about those projects is that they didn’t fally into one of the first two traps. But they didn’t address the issues either. What on earth is project Prism, or project Orange or project Stan all about? Is it something that’s deliberately meant to exclude the majority of employees? Because that’s what it looks like, and it’s hardly going to get stakeholder buy-in if that’s the case.

Buzzword projects are doomed because they isolate the people working on them from the rest of the organisation and – worse still – they give the impression that actually the people working on them don’t really know what the project is about. I’ve seen many a buzzword project (though not the prism ones) being strategic projects where the organisation felt it had to do something, but it wasn’t exactly clear what that something was, and didn’t want other people to know about it until they’d figured that out so they could deliver the right message.

But they’d already delivered the wrong message. That no matter how competent the project team, they simply didn’t have a clue.

Choosing the right name

So if you can’t name the project after its core technology and you can’t call it a redesign and you can’t call it something you thought was cool, what can you call it?

Call it something relevant.

I realise that’s a boring answer, but you know what, every project you ever work should have a business objective. Call it the project content strategy improvement or expenses streamlining or improving our brand reach.

The name of your project should make transparent to all the stakeholders why you’re doing the project in the first place and keep the team focussed on what it is that they’re meant to achieve. Just because developers have done their bit doesn’t mean that the project will be a success.

So if your project is failing and you’re looking for a quick turnaround that might improve it, try renaming it according to where the team needs to focus. You might just avoid tragedy and a plague o’ both your houses.

 


 

Keeping people buying content

This is the fifth of five posts about saleable content management.

A hand holding an apple

In our previous post, we looked at how content is being produced for sale in multiple formats, but in this post we’re going to look at how people then buy it.

It’s worth noting that many new business models aren’t based on people buying content in the traditional sense of taking it away and owning it. Rather than always having the content, you’re effectively buying access to it for a set period of time. This is true of music over Spotify and its various competitors, the vast majority of newspaper paywalls, satellite and cable TV subscriptions and Kindle lending through Amazon in the US. Effectively we’re leasing content rather than buying it, as we don’t think it really retains its value.

One effect of this leasing is to create something of a distribution oligopoly as a few key providers try to corner the market for selling or leasing content produced by others. This creates a serious problem for content producers: the smaller ones can’t afford to fight back by establishing credible director to consumer channels, while the larger ones often don’t have a strong enough brand to compete. That last point is serious: do you know whether the book you’re reading is part of Hachette, or whether the music you’re listening to or the movie you’ll watch this evening were produced by Time Warner? For music, books and film the brand is based on the product, the author or the star, not the publisher.

I believe that a second effect of this oligopoly is to encourage piracy. If distribution appears limited and pricing controlled – whether by the publisher or distributor – people are going to look elsewhere to get hold of content. And that is compounded by the lack of brand loyalty. Now, I’m not going to comment at all on the SOPA / PIPA issue, as many more knowledgeable people have written about this already and I’m based in the UK anyway. But people who create content for sale really do need to consider a few key issues if they want people to buy it rather than steal it.

One person’s piracy is another person’s viral. Susan Boyle sold over 700,000 copies of her first album in the US largely due to a clip of her on YouTube. It was in breach of copyright but of massive benefit to SYCO music. Content producers need to “stop treating the customers as users, and start treating them as fans”, as Rovio CEO Mikael Hed puts it.

Fundamentally, however, “Companies don’t rise and fall due to piracy, but they do based on the quality of the products they release.”. If you want to sell your content, you need to create good quality content in the first place. This means finding the best creatives, acquiring rights based on all the formats you’re going to deliver to and developing brand loyalty that extends beyond a single title or artist.

Content producers need to convince us that they frequently find music, TV or books that interest and adhere to that fundamental tenet of sales: it’s easier to farm repeat business than hunt for new business. But they also need to keep their content separate from its presentation so we return to buy it in whatever format happens to suit us. That is how to manage saleable content.

 


 

Producing multi-presentational content

This is the fourth of five posts about saleable content management.

Guillotine

Our previous post looked at how content can depreciate in value.

If content is king, the guillotine is being sharpened. Those publishers and producers who have failed to embrace the multi-channel model are already in the tumbrils.

One key to this model (and I’m grateful to Edward Smith for the term) is asset liquidity. If you can create your format so that it’s suitable for consumption on multiple devices, you can keep on selling your content even if one delivery stream’s market dries up. That’s where content management comes in. Publishers who are stuck with antiquated production processes are going to struggle to produce multi-format content efficiently and yet this is something that the content management industry has been used to doing for many years. Whether this is providing templates for print, web and mobile, or encoding video, or producing multiple image formats, the technology is established and proven. And yet a number of challenges to the multi-channel approach still remain.

Firstly, there are presentational challenges. While text on a web page and typically on eBook readers is “flowable” – unconstrained by the area it’s displayed in – it’s fixed in print and in some other devices, particularly when you have text presented with images. So a news article could appear on a single long web page or be in a short column on the front page of a newspaper and then continued on a separate page. This creates issues during the production process because editors need to understand where those breaks will appear. Moreover, on reading devices where text size can be changed by each individual user, it’s practically impossible to define where breaks might appear for that device. This is far from limited to text: if you can zoom images, or you want to produce media content for devices with different screen sizes and resolutions, you’ll encounter similar problems of trying to deliver an optimal experience for your entire target audience.

Secondly, publishing to multi-function devices increases this problem of the optimal experience, with the most obvious example being the iPad. Neglecting iPad delivery is tantamount to commercial suicide these days, as lean-back media experiences a resurgence. Unlike a Kindle, the iPad screen is backlit, making extended text reading tiring. While the screen on an iPad is good, it’s not going to be better than watching programmes or movies on a good television screen. And if you don’t want to listen to music through the iPad’s speaker – and why would you? – it’s a lot less portable than most other music players. I realise that there are ways around most of these issues that are available on the market, if not widespread. But for people who want to get through to the iPad market, this also means accepting a degree of compromise in how their content is consumed.

Which brings me to the third challenge: difference in consumption habits and the uncertainty that these cause. People who produce content for sale don’t actually have that much say in the determining which format is the most popular. Book publishers want to be a lot less dependent on the Kindle than they currently are, while newspapers – notably in Italy – are at significant risk of shutting down as people move away from printed paper. We’ve already seen in our previous posts how people simply don’t buy CDs any more and it’s only a matter of time before DVD sales are similarly affected.

If you invest a lot into producing content for multiple formats, you also have to accept that not all those formats will exist forever and you’ll have to take a financial hit if you spread too thin or gamble on the wrong one.

Producers and publishers are going to need to find tools which enable them to automate multi-format production and that are flexible enough to accommodate new formats as they emerge. And it’s not just new formats; it’s new content consumption channels too. The way we choose to buy our content is changing along with the devices that we use, as we’ll consider in the next post.

 


 

The depreciation of saleable content

This is the third in a series of five posts about saleable content management.

Weathered metal shed

Our previous post paints an uncertain picture for traditional media. New delivery channels imply new sales channels and new commercial models.

One of the biggest questions that commercial providers need to consider is whether their content is an asset. And by asset, I absolutely do not mean this in the sense of how the content should be managed. I mean this in the sense of whether that content retains its value or depreciates over time.

Consider reference materials: an encyclopaedia for example. One of the reasons why Wikipedia does so well is because it’s always up to date. You can pretty much guarantee that when a news story breaks, someone will update a relevant Wikipedia page about it that day. I’m not sure when I’m going to publish this post, let alone when you’re actually going to read it, so just try it now. Go to a major news site, find the top personality or place involved in that news and look them up on Wikipedia. Does the entry refer the news story? How can your encyclopaedia at home possibly keep up?

Of course, the massive speed advantage of multi-contributor online reference material has to be weighed against the academic rigour that you get through content that takes longer to publish and which needs to charge for that expertise. That’s the approach the Guardian newspaper is looking to adopt in its fight against more rapid news media. In a recent email the editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger tells subscribers:

But we’re well aware that, increasingly, you tell us that what you want from the printed newspaper changes as you seek out, or absorb, breaking news from the web, mobile, TV and radio. Half of you now read the paper in the evening, by which time you want more pieces that explain events and contextualise them.

News is – as we’ve seen from the figures provided in the previous post – hugely important to people. But currently people don’t need to see it as an asset because the supply seemingly outstrips the demand. (I’m slightly cautious about that supply because we all live in countries where some of the news sources – whether free or paid for – can be less than reliable.) So for saleable content to be an asset and retain its value, it both needs to be hard to get hold of and offer some degree of added value.

Ross Dawson wrote a post that touches on different ways of creating that added value and there are a few examples I wanted to touch on:

  • If you turn the focus away from real-time consumption (as the Guardian intends to), you can extend content’s “use by” date and therefore increase how long it holds its value, as Louis Gray explains.
  • The New York Times is trying to improve engagement with its content, by adding trusted commenting.
  • Faber’s chief executive has a manifesto for change for the book industry.
  • The movie industry (what we in the UK used to call “film” but is clearly a redundant term given this discussion) has developed the UltraViolet licensing system so that customers can “buy once, play anywhere”.
  • Amazon have a similar approach with their Kindle so that digital books can be read on a variety of platforms from a single purchase.

How content producers exploit the multi-channel model is going to be key to their success. That’s what we’re going to look at next.

 


 

Selling content on different media

This is the second of five posts about saleable content management.

A Kindle and an iPad

Following on from the previous post about the need to separate commercial content from its delivery medium, let’s consider how various industries have been addressing this issue.

The most obvious place to start is with music, where traditional physical media has all but disappeared. Not only are people not buying physical media, they’re not buying what was previously the most saleable format (albums) and sometimes not buying music at all. Putting piracy to one side for the moment, music is effectively leased rather than bought through services like Spotify. This is a feature I’ll return to at a later stage.

Newspapers and magazines are undergoing a similar transformation, but struggling to find appropriate business models. Out of people in the UK who get their news online, fewer than 1 in 25 pay for that service, despite the millions who visit newspaper websites like the Mail (17.2 million unique visitors from Europe in June 2011) and the Guardian (13.5 million) (Ofcom report [pdf, 2.05MB] page 213, section 5.3.7).

Television is changing radically and rapidly. Over a quarter of the UK web population used the internet to watch TV programmes on a weekly basis even though only 7% have a TV that’s actually connected to the internet (Ofcom report, page 7). This has prompted Sky to go beyond its investment in TV programmes to any device (through Sky Go) to TV over the web as well as via satellite, which has until now been its core business. Both Google and Apple meanwhile are preparing their imminent and doubtless disruptive incursions into the television market.

Which brings us to the similarly turbulent world of book publishing. While Amazon posted extraordinary figures (the 1.3 million eReaders bought in the UK over Christmas represents 1 person in 40 receiving one), the printed book industry is suffering: there are now no major bookstore chains in Australia, while major retailers in the UK and US are struggling. Meanwhile Apple is trying to corner the production (and to some extent vet the publication) of iBooks and where Amazon can’t encourage authors to bypass traditional publishers through its self-publishing model it simply acquires the publisher instead.

Every form of saleable media is in a state of flux. If publishers are going to move forward, they’re going to need to address some fundamentals which we’ll consider in our next post.