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A Future With A Gazzilion Screens

Cross-industry collaboration will lead to new new monetisation avenues including e-commerce, multi-screen consumption and so on

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Change is the only constant. As clichéd as it may sound, I doubt there is any other maxim that can describe our industry better. After all, at the very heart of our business is the ability to create, distribute, exhibit and monetise content. As consumer and technology trends regularly disrupt all these parameters, it’s obvious that our journey into the future will be full of twists and turns, making future gazing almost impossible. With that caveat in place, I’d like to share my reading of the key trends of the future.

1. Cross-industry collaboration is the future: When taxi aggregators are tying up with music streaming apps and OTT players are with the Indian Railways to offer consumers a customised, seamless experience, I see no reason why we should remain ensconced in our silos. We need to transition towards a more mature, collaborative mindset and partner with those operating outside our sector. This will also lead to new monetisation avenues including e-commerce, multi-screen consumption and so on.

2. Respect for data privacy in the digital age: We often tend to ask how we, as businesses, can harness the power of data to improve our operations. Instead, we must ask ourselves how we can make this process more responsible. We cannot afford to lose the trust of our consumers. We must also assess the quantum of risk involved — individual, corporate and even geo-political risk. If need be, we can even think along the lines of how data security or privacy can be a value-added service. When handset manufacturers such as Blackphone can build a business model around encryption, I see no reason why we can’t think of secure, private entertainment experiences as a viable revenue stream.

3. New talent management practices for a new era: The barriers to ‘starting-up’ are fast disappearing. It’s extremely easy for talented employees to start out on their own. It’s also easy for them to quickly get bored with their work. The security of a long-term career is not as enticing as it used to be when many of us started out. The construct of the 21st century media organisation must be flexible enough to allow its employees to take up freelance stints, pursue their entrepreneurial dreams, take up board positions in startup ventures, and still operate freely within that very construct. This is challenging but critical, particularly if we want the best minds to work with us.

4. The Internet of Things will let you advertise on things: With advancements in radio-frequency identification and near field communication technology, the day isn’t far when, before being inserted in the keyhole, the key will tell you if it’s the right one or not. You must have heard the oft-quoted example of a refrigerator telling you that you are low on your milk and ice-cream. Now imagine if that notification was sponsored by Amul and powered by Kwality Walls. For those of you who talk of second screens, imagine a few gazillion of them.

5. Rethinking IP regulation: As ecosystems evolve in our industry, we need to rethink how IP will be created, protected and monetised. Ecosystems can only thrive when rights are defined clearly and fairly. So stakeholders must have their incentives aligned with those for the ecosystem. A large part of our products will be co-created with others. Often, the consumers of these products will have some role in creating them. The IP regime should not restrict this creativity or constrain this collaboration. It must be cognizant of the advances in technology (P2P streaming services and the like), open collaboration and convergence. The use of block chains in digital rights management might herald a new era for content creators and consumers.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Sudhanshu Vats

The author is Group CEO, Viacom18

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