Friday, August 31, 2007

Nielsen's Initiative with Consumer Networks

I recently saw a reference to the forthcoming initiative. According to their website..
Coming later this year, is an interactive and fun environment where you can provide feedback on your favorite entertainment (tv, movies, etc). Nielsen, in turn, may share it with the companies responsible for those entertainment products. Furthermore, users who give rich, insightful, and frequent feedback may be asked to participate in other surveys and webcam interviews for tv, movies, and commercials.
I think it is an important way Nielsen can corroborate and complement what they glean from their rigorous and long-established traditional TV panels. I wonder how this may relate to other social network sites (Facebook, MySpace, Yahoo) who may have an edge with higher level of stickiness with their users but may lack the domain knowledge about TV or the objectivity behind ratings that Nielsen has long established. It will be interesting to see how the networks of relationships evolve between those seeking to orchestrate consumer communities and those monitoring how consumers consume media and related products and services. And there are many consumer communities today (here's a list of the top ones).

NBC Universal--Apple Relationship Shifts

Today's NY Times is reporting that NBC Universal has decided not to renew the contract with Apple for digital downloads.
The media conglomerate — which is the No. 1 supplier of digital video to Apple’s online store, accounting for about 40 percent of downloads — notified Apple of its decision late yesterday, according to a person familiar with the matter who asked for anonymity because negotiations between the companies are confidential.
This situation highlights some of the key requirements of winning in a network era.

1.Winning depends on managing a portfolio of relationships. Not all relationships are equally important. The real analytical challenge is to prioritize the relationships for today (current conditions) and for tomorrow (a range of plausible scenarios). Where's NBC Universal in the scheme of content providers today and where would it be in the future? .

2. The relationship interdependency is dynamic. Clearly, Apple-NBC intedependency has changed over the years. In the beginning, iTunes would have failed but for good quality content (from NBC and others). Now, can NBC Universal do without Apple? Will Apple customers desert iTunes in favor of an alternative if their favorite content is not made available on their iPod?

3. Will the shift in the relationship between two entities (Apple and NBC) impact a third entity (such as Microsoft or a different content provider like CBS or Disney) to gain an edge? [I had hinted about this possibility earlier.] Is the move by NBC because Apple is closer to Disney (by virtue of board-interlock with Steve Jobs on Disney Board)?

4. Winning strategies requires anticipating likely moves in the network. These involves not only realignment of relationships amongst existing players (example Apple and NBC) but also new players that may enter the market in the future.
Contract negotiations depend on an analysis of how nodes (companies) and linkages (relationships) are today and how they are likely to evolve in the future. Both Apple and NBC know that this contract renegotiations will alter not only their specific relationship but also the broader network of content creation and delivery. These moves--individually and collectively--will shape and reshape the media landscape.
Update: There's a Sept 1 posting at Business 2.0 blog that speculates on what iTunes looks like without NBC. It's worth reading.

Microsoft-RIM (M&A)--A Real Possibility or Just Speculation?

Over the last few decades, companies have always explored mergers and acquisitions as ways to grow out of trouble. Horizontal acquisitions and vertical integration emerge as first courses of actions for many companies. Microsoft has historically stayed away from major acquisitions that could change their corporate strategy, structure and culture.
Now, I saw this news story about possible acquisition of RIM. This may be nothing more than idle speculation. But it is worthwhile thinking how the mobile market will evolve: Specifically, what roles will Microsoft, Google and Apple have? Will Symbian and Palm have any distinctive value plays at all or are they nearly-closed chapters? What about the convergence of applications symbolized by Apple iPhone but we all know that it is only the beginning.
Clearly, we will see some acquisitions. But acquisitions should not be constraining as companies such as Microsoft strive to be relevant and dominant in the fast-changing marketplace. Will Microsoft-Blackberry combination win? We cannot really answer that question till we take a more complete look at the network of linkages that exists amongst the key players that straddle hardware, software and service domains. Also, acquisition is not always the most effective startegy under fast-changing conditions of convergence in functionality as we see in this space.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Outsourcing to India--Homer Simpson Style

Here is a somewhat irreverent look at outsourcing The Simpsons Style.

Towards a Web 2.0 Infrastructure for the Network Era Business Models

There has been a lot of excitement about web 2.0--mostly in the consumer space but it is also gaining traction in corporations. Andrew McAfee at Harvard Business School has spearheaded the excitement around Enterprise 2.0 and has a useful framework to think about it in an article published in the Spring 2006 issue of the Sloan Management Review. I particularly like Andy's definition of Enterprise 2.0 as:
Enterprise 2.0 is the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers.
The reason I like the definition is that it allows the scope of the platforms to extend beyond a single enterprise to include a network of partners and relationships that are central for creation and delivery of products and services demanded by the customers.
So, what's the state of art in our understanding of how the web 2.0 infrastructure shapes and supports the emergent business models of the network era? Well, we have a good set of leading-edge case studies. These studies serve as a good foundation to understand how companies are experimenting with web 2.0. There are the initial case studies as Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein where JP Rangaswami was a keen proponent of blogs and wikis as critical building tools for the next generation infrastructure. (JP now is at BT and has a thoughtful blog here.). There are also attempts by many other companies to embrace the principles of web 2.0. I had previously blogged about BBC 2.0; there is some news recently about what SAP Imagineering Unit creating tools by adopting the web 2.0 philosophy of embracing the user community as part of design and development. I am not surprised that software companies like SAP are developing tools to create the web 2.0 infrastructure. I like to see what evidence we have of user companies embracing web 2.0 and creating a business infrastructure that is in sync with Andy's definition.
Then I saw this CIO Insight Survey about the State of Use of Web 2.0 by CIOs. A caveat here: I am not a big fan of such surveys of managers in general because personal use of applications rarely captures how enterprises uses tools such as video, blogs, wikis, mashups, podcasts, social networking tools etc. For instance. the #1 application is the use of video over the web (no big deal there as I am sure many CIOs are at least casual visitors of YouTube or Google Video or videos embedded in WSJ and Ny Times). The real question is what is the degree of reliance and use of videos for internal and external collaboration on critical projects that deliver superior value to customers.
I think time is ripe to carry out a systematic study of how web 2.0 tools and applications are reshaping the business infrastructure in different vertical industries. Such a study should also see how companies may be deploying these applications across organizational boundaries so that we can discern the opportunities and challenges.
We are still in the early stages of web 2.0 infrastructure but the business potential seems promising. I am bullish not on any specific web 2.0 start-up but on how enterprises to embrace the new tools and applications to usher in a new era of business strategy and practices that truly reflect a network era.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Distribution of Lunch Boxes in Mumbai--a World Class Process

Some of you may have heard of the century-old process of distributing lunch boxes in Mumbai.

here is a good overview video.
Find more videos like this on NewTeeVee Pier Screenings

This is world-class.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Web 2.0: A Funny Look

A good way to restart my blog after a long break!

Thanks JP.