Monday, August 25, 2008

"I prefer the errors of enthusiasm to the indifference of wisdom." Anatole France

"Man's desires are limited by his perceptions; none can desire what he has not perceived." William Blake

"The first undertakers in all great attempts commonly miscarry, and leave the advantages of their losses to those that come after them." Samuel Butler

Today's image: Mile marker 13 by James. Amazing. Thank you for sharing.

All your platforms are belong to us

The allusion is, of course, to CATS. If you're thinking of the T.S. Eliot inspired work of that gifted (and knighted) Webber gentleman, sorry, wrong memory;) The provenance here is from earlier this century, the memetic phenomenon born of the Toaplan offering Zero Wing.

Allow me to suggest we are living in the early days of digital media's burgeoning wild west, the digital frontier. We may well have passed the "pong moment," gone beyond that certain boundary of no return into the event horizon. [I could again prove to be wrong in my timing here as is evident from this post made in August 2004 - so you know, more than one group head read that post and said to me back in 2004 "What sales crisis?"]. Today's cacophony and chaos is the new normal. Ambiguity rules. Innovation is messy and there is lots of wreckage in the fast lane.

One thing is certain, we are, each and all, at yet another point of making it up as we go along. We have reached a point where decisions matter and not making a decision is, as ever, deciding. Dear reader, please beware the so-called experts. Truth be known, questions matter far more than responses (there are no answers, no game-changing solution sets at this point). Let me further proffer some really important things are - as our Zero Wing example serves to illustrate - getting messed up, lost in translation. It's the repetition of the poor translation that is becoming potentially dangerous.

Platform agnostic

If social media has offered any early lesson it is one must learn, understand and respect being platform agnostic. I learned this lesson the hard way as an IBM Business Partner in the 1980s. Our software development firm created custom code that became the first effective paperless office solution for the Citibank credit card operation. What we failed to grok was this was actually a system to sell through the then cutting edge AS400 platform for IBM. D'oh! Those were the days when I first learned a great many marketing lessons from my Armonk colleagues. [Social media sidebar: LinkedIn, that little social network the majority never heard of is said to be billing over $100 mil this year with a market value of about $1 bil. Compare and contrast, 100 mil is the same amount of revenue that put Joel Hollander into a living hell when he lost Howard]

In today's case - audio - listeners could care less where it originates or how they capture it. They only care that it is the audio they want when they want it. They like it or they don't.

Once the technology becomes transparent (and, if you're a successful provider, it will be at some point) all that matters is the content. This comes down to grasping that you are living in two very different worlds. Today's waning economic engine, that is, the business of import. Tomorrow's new model, one not yet fully defined with business strategy, which is one of export. The yesterday being perpetuated by end stage money versus the brave new unknown world of tomorrow supported, presently, by what amounts to little more than the rounding errors on financial statements. Too many CEOs are declaring this to be a Hobson's choice and they're getting it all wrong. Many damn the economy and every other potential accomplice for their failing and changing world of import. At the same time they damn and preclude the concept of any serious investment in new tech and export beyond that very precise penny required to generate a press release or provide them with the opportunity to talk it up as innovation on their next quarterly call. These are the CEOs that continue to insist on bringing a knife to a gun fight. As my old friend Joseph L. Floyd used to say "Talk is cheap. Whiskey costs money."

Throwing in another allusion, these are the CEOs taking the blue pill and complaining when they should be choosing the red pill and taking the wild ride. This is at the core of our present day leadership problem. CEOs insist on doing just enough, the minimum required, to check the box but it's no longer enough to matter. Not enough to get into the new game at hand. The majority of broadcast sites and other digital efforts continue to suck. There is only one excuse and it's that too many CEOs still don't get it. These are the CEOs that have become the dead weight, they are the true enemies of progress, the people standing in the way, blocking the paths of future wealth creation. In my opinion, it's time to retire some jerseys, this must be done for the good of the game.

Fail faster!

Hint: The number of times your team has met to seriously discuss and argue the merits of VRM = How serious your team really is about the future. 0 = 0. The number of times your team has launched a new initiative, failed and started another new initiative = How serious your team is about innovation. 0 = 0. The number of experiments going on in each department = How serious your team is about reinvention. 0 = 0. Failing faster is the most effective way to succeed sooner. Remember what Bill Gates said "Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can't lose." Keep in mind the advice of Steve Jobs "Stay hungry. Stay foolish."

Readers of this blog will recall my long standing rant: All that matters is what comes out of the speakers and what's on the screen(s), everything else is a footnote.

Silver bullets not included: Bob Struble has posted a new entry at his web page...

"Like every other consumer medium, AM/FM must be digital, online and over the air. And the efforts are complimentary – streaming those HD2s helps educate listeners; it’s a good thing. And HD Radio implementation can drive web traffic. Neither initiative will right the ship alone, but both play a role in the solution."

My sense is it would be difficult not to understand what Bob is saying here. Hard to imagine anything getting lost in translation. Bob's remarks are spot-on. It's not either or, it's AND. If you only pick one or two platforms you are probably the kind of person that has developed a system for playing and winning the lottery. How's that going? All your platforms are belong to digital. Moreover, all your platforms are belong to the group(s) formerly known as the audience. All your assets must be digital and discoverable. The one exception going forward is that totally important analog audio platform that still needs extra special attention, care and feeding TFN. Your main channel is not some distraction, it's the oxygen keeping your team alive, or not. If you don't own a demo in Arbitron you still have major work to do.

Read Bob's post, Digital Over the Air and Digital Online: We Can Walk and Chew Gum at the Same Time, here. Bravos, Bob. Well said. Now that Bob & company have delivered the technology, the digital weaponry, we need to get to work on crafting those silver bullets without which that cool tech solution don't mean diddly. iBiquity developed the OS, we need to develop the apps. The apps the thing(s).

Danger, Will Robinson: This is a re-feed of a previous transmission for those that may have missed it last week. If you are working for a CEO who is blaming the economy you need to plan your escape, you deserve to be working for a much smarter person.

Just saying: When a person selling you something claims to be on the cutting edge of what's next in digital, you know, the one bragging about being dialed-in to what's really happening out there, simply ask them "What's your nick on FriendFeed?" Then, check them out. Alternatively, ask them "What's in your reader?" Take a look at what they think is worth reading. Then decide if the relationship is worth chasing. Should they fail to understand either question? Click. Thank me later.

Thank you very much: Chicago TV legend, Merri Dee, leaves WGN. Merri inspired generations, her body of work is a credit to WGN and to the television profession. More here.

Bonus: The five C's of social media. Thanks and bravos to Colin Walker

Congrats & cheers: The IE team at Microsoft. While they are not (yet) getting credit for the reorg, these are the guys to watch. N=1 is still going all-in with Ozzie. CBS Radio programming ace Mark Edwards featured in the latest Rick Kaempfer Chicago Radio Spotlight, here. Thanks for the mention, Mark! Kudos to Rick on another fine piece.

Have a great week. Make something amazing happen.

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