John Sheridan

John is CEO of Digital Business insights!

Who is being disrupted? Part 2

TV, advertising, retail, employment and industry associations are also in trouble.

At the low quality end, TV production is cheaper than it has ever been, and this allows many new entrants to create content for distribution through traditional and new channels. Games shows, chat shows and reality TV proliferate.

The traditional television channels have been challenged by the advent of digital TV and high-speed broadband allowing access to a multitude of other digital screens. The digital distribution world is still in flux and the big players are banking on owning as much “old” content as possible to defend their incumbent positions.

High quality production however, is still expensive and remains largely in the hands of deep pocket production companies and national broadcasters.

So even though digital distribution offers a proliferation of channels to market, there is relatively little material to fill the pipelines.

The large multinational media conglomerates recognised this, years ago and bought as much quality material as possible – film, documentary, animation and television to distribute through pay TV channels, cinemas and other media channels. Content is king, and there isn’t enough of it to satisfy current and future demand.


At the bottom end, there are huge opportunities for low cost, but well targeted production material, using the multitude of digital distribution channels, including YouTube and other new digital platforms. And as individuals become more comfortable with watching content on any device, traditional television and cable continue to lose market share and advertising dollars.

Advertising itself has been under threat since the agencies lost control of media billing in the1980s. Google largely destroyed the premium position agencies had established for themselves as broker for advertising messages by giving customers direct access to information about products and services.

And the traditional marketing channels of TV, radio, print and magazines got smashed into multiple smaller channels by the world-wide-web. In this digital environment, agencies can no longer claim to be the sole experts in the new game. They aren’t.

Their initial response of ignoring digital change, outsourcing digital or buying web companies and bringing them in house was a mistake. It meant they didn’t do the hard intellectual work of actually understanding it practically and strategically themselves. By the time they woke up, it was too late.

However, advertising agencies employ lots of intelligent, well-paid, creative people and if anybody can think their way out of trouble, it is them.

They just have to recognise that the real expertise in agencies isn’t in the digital department it is in the strategy department, where the key directors and CEOs need to stop being lazy and fully understand digital for what it is (not just about websites and social media) and then take back the reins of the agencies and ensure their future. It is the strategic thinking that is key to the future, not the platforms and channels.

Retailers have lost control of the buyer – seller relationship because of Google. Buyers can find information at the click of a button, find offers everywhere and buy from anywhere. This hardly impacts the food shop at all (Coles, Woollies and IGA) but hits specialised and commodity goods hard.

Those retailers are all losing share of market to competitors (from anywhere) and in some cases they have lost control of the conversation completely because of the ease of access to information delivered by Google.

We are witnessing the fourth major change in retailing since it began and it doesn’t look pretty. A business model that used to be relatively easy to manage has changed forever and now requires skills that are beyond most “mum and dad” retailers, and the retail associations don’t have the skills themselves to advise or help.

Deep thinking is now the key to surfing the digital flood for retailers. Followed by smart action. It doesn’t necessarily need deep pockets, but they would help. They provide the money which gives the time to test, trail and prove the new business models.

Employment services have been hit hard by the force of Google. And that force has been compounded by the further impact of social media – Linkedin to be specific.

The specialist online job boards are also being hit in their turn.

Seek is losing share to smaller more specialised niche competitors…and so it goes. Employers don’t want lots of options, they want the right options, and that means more specialisation and better segmentation than before, and Seek isn’t structured to do that.

Employment has a long way to go before it settles down. The power of databases and search combined, offers more options than ever before and the market will evolve in line with the industry sectors it services.

Industry associations continue to lose members and relevance day by day. The association CEOs, boardrooms and senior managers are not experienced enough to manage the turbulence of digital change and they are all struggling.

Chambers of commerce and peak bodies? The same.

The digital revolution came from nowhere and hit them just when most had decided they could ignore it. It wasn’t their core business. Well it is now.

Google offers industry advice, news and information for free.

So why pay a membership fee to an association? Industry associations are wrestling with what to offer to engage and retain memberships. There are many options, but most associations are still stuck in the not so distant, comfortable past, wondering what went wrong. They don’t have the quality leadership that is demanded in the digital age.

And worse is to come. Most industry sectors really only need one association not thirty. Digital technology can be used to allow any association that decides it wants to, leadership of the sector and the elimination of competition.

The first associations that wake up to that fact will win. Defence is not the right strategy in this area. Attack is the only option.

People can find information easily, identify products and services, discuss them with others and buy…all without the help of the traditional vendors or brokers.

The “middlemen”

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Thursday, 23 November 2017