IBC 2018 – TMT industry must focus on innovation to reignite growth in core services

Telecoms.com periodically invites expert third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. In this piece Gavin Mann, Global Broadcast Lead for Accenture, offers a preview of the key topics that will define IBC 2018.

As big tech companies move into content creation and distribution, media and entertainment businesses face an unprecedented array of challenges from new competition to the growing purchasing power of the digital native generation.

Established players must safeguard their core business to maintain and nurture the steady reliable cash flow that comes from their legacy and established customer bases, while forging a path to unlock new revenue streams through innovation. As technology continually evolves, there is no finish line and service providers must get used to continual change.

At IBC, disruption in the industry will be the main topic driving conversations at the show. Accenture believes that there are several ways the industry can embrace technology to unlock new innovation and equip businesses for future success, which will be major points of focus at the RAI. Here are more details about each:

Advanced TV Advertising – Making it easier for advertising buyers

Audiences continue to become more fragmented around a growing number of video offerings and the media industry is having a tough time keeping up with measuring viewership and charging for it. While media companies typically try to sell their own ad inventory with proprietary methods, coming together with a single methodology for tracking content and creating niche data sets in a manner similar to what is being done in the online space, may prove crucial to the industry’s future.

Consortiums like Open AP in North America allow advertisers to use a standard group of data sets to define valuable segments of consumers, which could be anything from expectant mums to first-time house buyers. Each company within the Open AP consortium continues to sell its own commercial time and space, but the wider technology offering means advertisers will be able to access specific segments at greater scale.

We expect many execs will be meeting counterparts at IBC to discuss starting or expanding similar data co-operatives in Europe and around the world.

Creating a culture of innovation

Television Understands Innovation: From revolutions in display (black & white to colour, screen formats), to step changes in choice with the entry of non-terrestrial media (satellite and cable), through to the relative explosion of variety as countries transition from analogue to digital, television providers have always combined technology, insight and opportunity to stay ahead. This drive for creative transformation has been a constant, even though in many countries broadcasters and platform operators alike have followed a well-trodden path – from single, national institutions at the birth of the industry to today’s modern competitors. The recent, rapid growth of platform players offering IP-based video consumption has created a new urgency for innovation, driven both by investor perceptions – and reality on the ground.

Investors have bought into the huge future valuations of platform players, who have created scaled global footprints based on new technologies, value chains and business models. Investors remember the slow-to-adapt industries, or those simply on point when the first digital shots were fired. For video to avoid the fates of so many music and newspaper companies, investors expect a strong digital narrative which sets out steps to survive and thrive in this new context.  investors expect established video businesses to articulate clear strategies. They want to see real, sustained innovation along this journey, differentiation and energetic competitiveness.

Established players can, and need to, apply the full force of digital innovation across their entire business, decoupling decision making and operational processes from legacy ways of working. They’ll realise benefits in almost every domain of a traditional video business:

  • Driving revenue growth
  • Finding cost efficiencies
  • Unlocking trapped value to be deployed more profitably

Driving innovation from within lays the strongest possible foundations for the competitive positioning of any video business. It seeks to create a lean, agile culture of rapid innovation and experimentation, which is alive to the major decision points and options in a company’s future.

Changing the innovation culture is a complete journey of transformation that rethinks the operating model, the value tree, skills and core KPIs. Investments to drive growth in the core business must also be capable of underpinning emerging digital ones.

Companies without an innovation story, who don’t change their culture to be able to innovate, will see shareholders lose confidence that they can deliver future value. Established players need to move decisively to apply the full force of digital innovation across their entire business, decoupling decision making and operational processes from legacy ways of working, therefore removing silos from the operating model and workforce.

Will Voice Assistants disintermediate established brands?

The smart home continues to mature significantly as the digital giants, telcos, cable operators, retailers use Voice Assistants as a license to experiment and bring to market new hardware and services. The emergence of voice as an interface, powered by Artificial Intelligence, has seen Voice Assistants impact on marketing grow exponentially as experiences become curated and personalized.

Increasingly, algorithms are performing the role of gatekeeper between consumers and brands, and they are indifferent to the branding efforts that influence buying decisions people make for themselves. This poses a potential problem for brands looking to connect with consumers.  Think what happens when you ask a voice assistant to order some AAA batteries, and what that means for the valuable established brands which still have “prominence” on the supermarket shelf.

Media and Entertainment companies must quickly get a grip on these new algorithm gatekeepers and learn to navigate and engage with them. Many should consider creating collaborative or complementary services on an existing platform to find new ways to prompt their brand and purchases. All will need to consider carefully where a product or service can be designed to make it past the gatekeeper, and how to earn customer loyalty once it does.

Why the media industry should embrace blockchain

As media companies grapple with disruptive market conditions and increasingly demanding customers, blockchain can redefine how they can engage with their customers, partners and broader ecosystems. The first of these industry trends is strategic co-opetition, driven by consumers’ insatiable appetite for content. These ecosystems offer digital trust models ideal for securing rights, remediating financial transactions, sharing the right data, and optimizing the value chain.

One blockchain opportunity in media is to secure data. Media and platform companies have nothing if they cannot protect data and grant access only to those who need it. Blockchain technology is poised to be a game-changer in data security. It creates an auditable trail of an asset whether it is a device, access rights or content. No one owns this history, which creates a new level of visibility and transparency.

Blockchain can reduce piracy by enabling digital rights management—a boon for regulating copyright infringement. It can also make content provenance more transparent by validating authors and granting them access to distribution channels as trusted sources. Imagine the value of this in a world where “fake news” is part of the cultural and political lexicon. And as companies provide customers with their personal data to meet regulatory requirements, blockchain can capture and store a tamper-evident, secure and up-to-date history of personal usage data for better data portability. With so many use cases, blockchain promises to be an unprecedented data security breakthrough for this and many other industries.

Artificial Intelligence Adoption in Media & Entertainment

There is no doubt that AI will be a hot topic at this year’s show. We are moving beyond the phase of everyone talking about it to businesses actually using it to drive business benefits. Yet although it’s gathering pace rapidly, AI is still a new technology and many media companies are still grappling with what is possible and how they can leverage it to deliver true value.

There are many use cases in the industry that we’ll be hearing about spanning from basic automation of back office processes, to automating compliance checks, automated creation/optimization of programming schedules, or even using AI to ingest and interpret complicated royalties’ contracts to assess payments required.

One story we’ll be hearing about at IBC is the topic of content curation. We all know just how important content has become – Disney starting its own streaming service is just one example of media businesses putting content at the heart of their strategies. Together with the right content, any company looking to generate serious growth simply must provide a good customer experience. Artificial intelligence could be part of the answer to next generation content curation. It allows businesses to tailor what they send to individual customers, which would be impossible to do manually because of the sheer volume of content and customers.

 

Gavin Mann AccentureGavin Mann is the Global Broadcast Lead for Accenture. Digital transformation has been at the heart of his work for the last 20 years. Gavin has worked across multiple industries including broadcast, music, movies, gaming and publishing.

Important thing about AI is being pragmatic – Accenture

Artificial intelligence is a technology which amazes and confuses, but the value might be getting lost in translation as telcos look for the silver bullet.

Because is it such a complex and powerful technology, firms are often trying to solve the most difficult and complicated challenges with it. This can be a problem according to Emma McGuigan Group CTO of the Communications business at Accenture, as many are finding themselves in over their heads and the technology inaccessible.

In old phrase which applies here is learn to walk before you run. McGuigan pointed that while the trends are changing, some of the early adopters of the technology were trying to solve the big problems before learning how AI is integrated into a business. Just because AI has the potential to be incredibly powerful and complex, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be applied to the little problems first.

“The telcos are looking at the backend now, building the smaller foundations which in turn will build confidence around what you are doing,” said McGuigan. “Then you can start scaling up. By taking the step-by-step you demystify AI and take away the sci fi image. This process takes you to a place where you see the technology as an enabler.”

While it has been a very mysterious technology in previous years, McGuigan feels the industry is starting to get it now. The telcos aren’t using machine learning or other AI components pervasively just yet, but there is evidence it is being understood and taken for what the technology actually is. Yes, there will of course be jobs lost because of AI implementations, but the same could be said about every efficiency project, but it is starting to be viewed as an enabling technology as well.

This is one of the changes which we are seeing in the industry. Big data is now a dated phrase, with organizations starting to look for the right information in the right places. The land grab for information is over and AI is allowing companies to build customer solutions based on data outcomes. This more systematic approach allows companies to create a more coherent roadmap, and translate the insight into more sensible business decisions.

Eventually there will be some incredible AI solutions which could revolutionise the telco space. Customer engagement, sales opportunities and network optimization are areas which should be seen as the prize at the end of the journey. But the little stuff is where every story begins, most people just forget about it.

Get smart! We need to re-think how we power the platform business

Telecoms.com periodically invites third parties to share their views on the industry’s most pressing issues. Francesco Venturini, Global Industry MD for Communications & Media at Accenture, explores the potential opportunities for CSPs to become multi-sided platform providers.

Communications service providers (CSPs) have started to make their chosen play for future growth: multi-sided platform provider, mobile only, vertically integrated service provider or pervasive network platform provider. MWC will provide the opportunity for discussions about the technology investments they must make but one of the key things to be looking at is how to create and apply intelligence into the platform business.

Traditional growth is eroding at an alarming rate. The World Economic Forum Digital Transformation of Industries analysis found that operators’ share of the global industry profit pool is forecast to drop to 45% in 2018 from 58% in 2010. The decline is steepest in Europe, but there’s no pretty picture anywhere around the world. The internet giants are rapidly taking market share, embedding themselves into the traditional telecoms domains: the hand and the home. CSPs urgently need to reinvent themselves.

They must evolve their business models and the way they operate to be profitable in the years to come. This is likely to be front and centre of conversations at the show as it has been in recent years.

There is tremendous opportunity to create new business models. The challenge facing operators is how to get there. We’re on an S-Curve as an industry right now. We’re coming down from the peak. While there are still some opportunities within the traditional core business models, the real opportunity comes from finding a new S-Curve to navigate.

Multi-Sided Platforms could be the new opportunity

One new model that offers CSPs a huge opportunity is to become a multi-sided platform provider. Owning the platform requires a massive leap to new technologies – API-driven, agile and open platforms with strong identity management capabilities – and a totally different approach to competition than most CSPs have had in the past, becoming the central digital provider of many services from OTT to home security but also enabling them to enter new value chains or new industries altogether. The ecosystem needs to be customer-centric and open to work.

The benefit for the operators is that it takes them out of the race to the bottom on pricing for commoditised services, but can use their core strengths as a springboard to maximise investment in new services.

We are already seeing fierce competition for this space but it’s not yet clear who the winners in the ecosystem will be. Large incumbent businesses have plenty of advantages from trust to brand, data and capital to become a vital part of the ecosystem but it depends on whether they will reinvent their business models quickly enough.

In digitally driven future ecosystems, the operators who own the data and therefore can be the first touchpoint and define what a customer gets and when and how, will have the most power so players must move at a much faster speed across a broader horizon than ever before if they are going to keep up with the other players.

Get Smart

To create, sell and deliver not only these new services, but the full multi-sided platform successfully, data is the fuel. CSPs must embed intelligence at the core of their business to enable vast amounts of data to be processed and deliver insights at speed. This “brain” becomes a new sustainable competitive advantage. As it learns about the customers in the ecosystem and their propensity to use new services, its microservices architecture and AI capabilities enable it to quickly shape and validate new ecosystem services in an omnichannel environment.

This puts the CSP in a leading position because it empowers them with data such as identity, quality of experience, security, billing relationships – and allows them to monetize that information by leveraging it with partners across the ecosystem, who in turn, can use it to better enhance the services they offer.

In a digital future that’s evolving at an ever-accelerating pace, CSPs possess a crucial advantage: a primary and trusted relationship with the customer. Aligned with embedded intelligence, they have the potential of disproportionate power over the whole value chain – which can be used wisely to reinvent themselves and win in the new digital landscape.

FrancescoFrancesco Venturini – Managing Director – Global Communications & Media Industries: With more than 15 years’ experience in broadcast, Francesco leads Accenture’s Communications & Media industry practice. He is at the forefront of helping Accenture’s clients to create new and winning strategies for growth. Francesco is also renowned for driving new platform-based solutions to support Communications & Media clients in their adoption of innovative new technologies to scale new growth curves.

Apple and Accenture announce alluring alliance

Apple and Accenture have jumped into bed with each other to create a new digital agency which will help customers design business solutions for iOS.

It’s a relatively simple idea; the digital economy is growing and people want to make money off it, but they don’t know how. In theory, when you take experts from one of the largest business consultancies in the world, and put them together with Apple employees, they should be able to make your idea more compatible with the iPhone or iPad.

Accenture will create dedicated iOS practices within Accenture Digital Studios, its consultancy unit to capitalize on the digital transformation craze, at several locations around the world offering expertise which the customer may not already have access to. These skills include visual and experience designers, programmers, data architects and scientists, and hardware and software designers.

This is not a complex idea. Accenture knows enterprise IT systems, Apple knows about the iPhone and iPad. Bring them together and they can optimize your apps and business processes for the devices.

It might also be worth noting that this is not a particularly new idea from the Apple team. Similar partnerships, focusing on optimizing business for iOS, are currently in place with the likes of Cisco, Deloitte, IBM and SAP.

“Starting 10 years ago with iPhone, and then with iPad, Apple has been transforming how work gets done, yet we believe that businesses have only just begun to scratch the surface of what they can do with our products,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO.

“Both Apple and Accenture are leaders in building incredible user experiences and together we can continue to truly modernise how businesses work through amazing solutions that take advantage of the incredible capabilities of Apple’s technologies.”

“Based on our experience in developing mobile apps, we believe that iOS is the superior mobile platform for businesses and are excited to be partnering with Apple,” said Pierre Nanterme, Accenture CEO. “By combining Accenture’s vast digital capabilities and industry expertise with Apple’s market leadership in creating products that delight customers, we are in a perfect position to help our clients transform the way they work.”

The new proposition will be an attractive one for those who want to tap into the fortunes being held by iLifers. But perhaps there is something more here, maybe this is the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend in its most real form.

In years gone, a basic Android operated device, or perhaps even a Blackberry were the options for staff on the go. Now with so many individuals choosing their own devices, and many of them being dedicated iPilgrims, there is of course a need to optimize any apps, processes or functions for the iOS platform as well. After all, if you want your staff to work while on holiday or the toilet, you have to give them the right tools to be able to do so.