It’s not just digital technologies but an emerging participatory media culture, fuelled by blogs, user generated content and social networks, that are transforming the relationships and practices through which media organisations have historically operated and created value.
There are two discrete trends disrupting established principles and practises: technological and people. Innovations in communications, devices, platforms and delivery have led to active participation and brought unprecedented personalisation to mass media.
The user can be, in essence, in charge and at the centre of everything and traditional media and content companies have to reinvent themselves, serving two types of digital experience or ‘states of mind’:
In ‘Lean Forward’ mode, users tend to have a short attention span and scan rather than read, actively looking for content, perhaps multi-tasking. This state of mind is normally seen on the desktop PC.
The ‘Lean Back’ experience is more immersive, with the user in consumption mode, characterised by a longer attention span—analogous to printer or television and frequently seen in smartphone use.
The tablet is the first device that attempts to cross the boundaries by supporting both types of user experience, a phenomenon increasingly referred to as “curl-up computing”.
No longer prepared to be dictated to by linear media schedules, people are becoming active information-seekers. In fact, many consumers no longer regard traditional content providers as their go-to sources of insight and instead wait for mainstream and niche news to be filtered through social channels, via links shared by people or brands they trust and respect.
Digitisation of content has arguably led to commoditisation, and digital natives’ expectations of a ‘free lunch’ have spawned gloomy predictions for the news and music segments in particular. The challenge is to identify innovative monetisation models to ensure survival, rather than a ‘pay for everything’ or ‘pay for nothing’ approach. Many media businesses are emulating the economics of software providers, for whom the cost of creating something of value is high, but the marginal cost of distributing it to each consumer is low.
However, with any content behind a pay wall, on-demand spending is driven by the quality and consistency of the user experience, ease of access and relevant content. Brands such as Facebook, Google and Apple have defined consumers’ expectations for the “it just works” technology experience. Consumerisation has also led to rising expectations in the workplace in terms of simplicity, usability and elegance—not always the hallmarks of corporate IT. Tolerance of delays or disruption to the user experience is low, and forgiveness is largely dependent on uniqueness or relevance of the content itself or the provider’s brand equity.
So what are the primary concerns for enabling modern day media conception? Meeting peaks in demand through cloud enablement and meeting customers’ performance expectations.
The cloud has great potential to shape the future of the industry, especially cloud-native media, which offer exciting new opportunities for content providers and broadcasters to transact in real-time with their audience, socially or commercially. Consider the cloud as the digital assembly line that enables mass customisation of media and advertising services to those in charge—the consumers. That’s why a cloud-enabled media strategy is not just a matter of having the right infrastructure—it’s about delivering the right tools, the right controls and the right user experience.