Category Archives: Technology, Media and Entertainment

What are the key trends that will impact the media and entertainment industry in 2015?

The convergence of technology, devices, new content forms, and data continue to make the media industry one of the most fascinating consumer categories in the 21st century. The pace of change continues to accelerate as consumers move from the time-shifting paradigms brought on by the introduction of the DVR, to the long tail content discovery of the original Netflix offering, to the more recent behavior of binge watching one’s favorite show over the course of a single weekend. But even with this fast-paced change, you can still catch, and utilize, the key industry trends in 2015 which include (1) the battle for the living room, (2) the water cooler of the future, (3) media metrics and (4) a new Golden Age.

The Battle for the Living Room

For years, the battle for dominance in the living room drove competition amongst technology giants like Sony, Microsoft, Apple, Amazon and others to develop new smarter set-top like experiences that gave users more control over their viewing experience and greater flexibility in content offerings (video, games, and music) controlled centrally from the living room. Motivated by an overly optimistic perspective that the days of the cable bundle were numbered and the dawn of the à la carte entertainment service model was near, technology companies invested heavily in “Trojan Horse” like operating systems to take over the living room. The reality proved much more challenging. Comcast, Time Warner, DirecTV and other TV service providers demonstrated that they were up for the battle and have managed to slow the flow of cutters, at least for now, with nifty technical innovations of their own, as well as the clever management of digital rights across platforms, to make their service irreplaceable for marquis broadcast events.

Similarly, the proliferation of mobile screens with strong A/V capabilities is chipping away at the old media adage that “the best screen” wins and thus rendering the battle for the living room as nearly irrelevant. The new battle will follow the trend of TV’s “appification” as device makers and content providers will follow viewers across these devices and battle for ownership and loyalty from the audience. As more viewership moves to Apps, we will continue to see an emergence of new media brands (the Kardashians, Five Thirty Eight, TED) and a reshaping of existing established brands as providers realize they are competing not only on the quality of their content but the quality of their experience across multiple platforms.

The Water Cooler of the Future

Much has already been written about the roiling impact that Big Data is having across the business landscape. Media is no exception as content providers, platform owners, and device manufactures have more sophisticated insights into how, when, and where users are engaging in content experiences. Over the last view years, the industry has seen several attempts to enhance this experience with interactive features on screen and via companion viewing devices like Xbox Smart Glass. While we have not yet witnessed the ultimate breakthrough experience, it’s likely coming soon. Broadcast hits like “The Voice” have proven that they can create a market for a previously unknown artists on iTunes. Sports giant ESPN has led in leveraging social media to extend the discussion on the latest sports story online. The industry should expect the social integration of media experiences to increase rapidly. Today, one’s social graph quickly extends the discussion about the latest show like a virtual water cooler, helping followers discover new content, while building viral excitement around the next big thing. Expect content creators to continue to leverage social sentiment and real-time data and analytics to more quickly inform decisions about what content to create and for whom. The emergence of the Audience Manager is a trend that is here to stay.

Media Metrics

In the midst of all of this, the manner in which we track audiences across devices and platforms is changing as advertisers want better gauges of their true reach. Billions of media dollars are still exchanged on the basis of outdated panel-based methodologies. Expect to see continued innovation in performance-based media measurement that follows users across platforms and ad dollars flow to providers that are able to demonstrate effective messaging performance against their marketing objectives.

A New Golden Age

Like the fabled Golden Age associated with the birth of television, we are in a new Golden Age of media. Consumers have more ways to access, discover, and enjoy content whenever, wherever, and however they choose on sleek, new & shiny devices. The quality of the content continues to improve as providers battle to “out-innovate” each other in search of the next big franchise. The proliferation of apps and platforms enhance the experience in ways previously unimagined. All of this comes at a cost that has to be funded by someone. Cord cutters hope that they will only have to pay for content that they enjoy. Glib in their technical savvy, many of these cord cutters don’t realize that they would not be able to enjoy “Breaking Bad” via their streaming subscription if not for the millions who still buy a cable bundle and fund AMC’s development cycle. Advertisers dream of more precise and efficient placements that solve the age-old Wannamaker problem – identifying the 50% of advertising that’s valuable – yet they still participate in media upfront buys and bid millions for 30 seconds spots during Super Bowl broadcasts.

The business models that control this global category are deeply entrenched and managed by very strong and sharp companies. The trends outlined above will continue to put pressure on the existing status quo but we are still a few years away from true business model innovation in this category. Technology giants, TV service providers, device manufactures, and content providers are all battling for supremacy here. Innovation will come, the stakes are too high and the players too big. The clear winner will be the consumer in the short run, as they will have more unique content experiences to immerse themselves into. What will be fascinating to watch is whether the net cost of all this innovation comes at a cheaper price for the consumer. Regardless, as this battle continues to unfold, it promises to be one of the most exciting areas of business innovation for years to come.

What are the top cloud trends that will shape 2015?

The usage of cloud-based services continues to penetrate deeper in to the enterprise than ever before. The fear factors of security, data control, privacy and contractual exit strategies continue to be tempered by the virtues of cost savings, availability, speed to market and innovation.
If you are evaluating technology upgrades, replacements or acquisitions, 2015 is the year that cements cloud on the list of considerations.

I have detailed below in no order of importance what I think will be the main cloud focused trends in 2015 but I would love to hear what else you would add to the list?

Cost

Thanks to the price and feature wars between the biggest providers including AWS, Microsoft and Google the market is now more available than ever as organisations now look beyond raw infrastructure for value.

Hybrid Clouds

Gartner broadly defines hybrid clouds as the combination of two or more cloud services coming together to create a unified cloud experience. It can be a mix of private and public cloud services, but can also include combinations that are all public or all private.
In 2015 a blend of on-premise and cloud services is pretty normal but enterprises should adopt cloud services in a tactical way that ensure they’re getting the right match and secure model to suit the needs of their organisations. Hybrid cloud is the much-discussed direction that many organisations will ultimately follow.

Hybrid cloud management tools will improve and allow IT organisations to seamlessly administer and operate them securely.

Cloud Operating Models

As cloud services converge with social, mobile and information in what Gartner calls the. “Nexus of Forces”, organisations will need to start incorporating cloud operating behaviours in a platform for digital business.

Maturing and well defined Cloud Market

The cloud marketplace has matured significantly and moved away from the free for all approach of the past couple of years. The global scale cloud providers such as AWS and Microsoft’s Azure will continue to operate at the high end but there will be lots of smaller, more regional, industry focused custom providers to fill in the gaps around them.

Cloud Brokerages

There will be a rise of intermediation services that will seek to help organisations manage and integrate their cloud services. Organisations new to the cloud and those delving in to the hybrid approach will welcome such third-party providers and the niche skills they bring but will need to decide how much they cede control.

Enterprise Workloads Moving in to the Cloud

Amazon’s AWS has long been a go to choice for those offering online services but 2015 will see a greater enterprise adoption for not just AWS but Microsoft’s Azure and Google’s Compute Engine amongst others.

Cloud is the new style of elastically scalable, self-service computing and many enterprises will look to embrace all that it can offer.

Containers will gain momentum

Containers have helped solve many of the problems that the cloud poses for IT operations. Developers love containers but IT operations now need to be able to containerise different parts of an application, locate them in different types of cloud infrastructure, and manage them as discrete units whilst keeping the part acting as a whole.

Compliance and Regulations

As cloud platforms continue to mature, cloud is spurring interest from even those industries that have previously been hesitant. Think of those most beset with regulation, compliance and privacy: public sector, life sciences, financial and health care. Lots of cloud providers will take the necessary steps to receive appropriate industry certifications, creating more platforms designed to align to Sarbanes–Oxley and others.

Internet of Things

Interest in the Internet of Things will build throughout 2015. Positioning clouds and applications for it right now is difficult but if your organisation is moving in to this space you need to be prepared for how to capture and store the potentially large amounts of resulting data. Everything from orchestration to database management tools will need to evolve to better support this area.

Disaster Recovery

Traditionally this has been a problem area for IT but DRaaS enables you to address many previous problems such as testing, the high cost of installing a backup system and accurately mimicking potential issues. I think this will be a growth area in 2015.

With CIO’s under constant pressure to deliver innovation and business value whilst continuing to provide BAU services, they are always looking for new ways in which to achieve their goals. Cloud services have often provoked fear in many enterprises due to security, data and privacy issues but with the market rapidly maturing, costs falling, security and services improving could this be the year that cloud thrives?

What will be the top three global challenges & opportunities facing the Telecom industry in 2015?

The telecom industry has been in turmoil for some time already. The voice and data volumes in traditionally fixed and mobile networks are declining, and the trend continues to give headaches to operators, who are increasingly turning on their business priorities to provide content in their networks.

1.     Ubiquitous communications – is there capacity enough?

Telecom users are connected wirelessly to the internet and other services all the time at home and at work. Increasingly many transportation companies, including trains and buses, now offer wireless connections to their customers. Not to forget airlines, which are rapidly updating their planes to allow WiFi-connectivity – and even the possibility to use mobile phones – during flights.

This is why there is increasing press for cities and other public players to provide free-of-charge wireless access at city centres and market places. The private players have already understood their responsibilities and have a free-of-charge WiFi-access in their boutiques and shopping centres.

The challenge for the telecom industry will clearly be how to handle the declining data volumes over the mobile networks (GSM, 3G, 4G), as the WiFi-access available all over will provide a free-of-charge connection.

 2.     Cloud storage – what about the data security?

Although smart phones have become increasingly smarter, the users still have a number of devices with which they wish to have access to all of their data, especially photos, videos and music. They may have a laptop with Windows, an iPad with Apple’s iOS and a smart phone with Android – too many operating systems to allow easy synchronisation for a normal user.

Here come the cloud services as an answer. The telecom industry has found the cloud services as a good sales argument, so almost everyone is providing one. We seem to have a sky-high trust in these cloud-services – of course, nobody can steal anything from there! If we are honest with ourselves, we actually do not know very much about these cloud-services. Where are they located, who administers them, how good is their data security?

This is an easy service for the telecom industry to sell, as typically they do not provide the cloud-services themselves. To add customer value and be successful in the field companies must embrace fresh and creative power, as well as flexibility of open cloud. The ability to manage a large amount of consumer data and anticipate customer behaviour through data analytics, at the same time as keeping it confidential is a unique opportunity to shine and stand out from its competitors.

3.     Soft-SIMs are coming

Machine-to-Machine (M2M) communication has extended already all forecasts, and this business area is one of the fastest growing within telecommunications. These applications have great potential to erupt in the market. By leveraging their network assets, large customer bases, and distributed field forces, telecoms players can increase value.  M2M has endless possibilities, and some of the most used already are automated meter readings or supervising fleet movements.

Traditionally M2M has utilized mobile communications technology, i.e. GSM, 3G or 4G. This, however, means that M2M utilities demand a SIM-card and a mobile phone number.

Many countries have already needed to review their telephone numbering plan for mobiles to allow enough capacity for exploding demands. Another issue is that telecoms authorities still demand number portability to also cover M2M – and this would mean costly SIM-card exchanges for thousands or millions of equipment spread all over, geographically.

The answer here is the soft-SIM. A “SIM-card” which is made by a software without needing a physical card at all. A soft-SIM would allow, for example, an operator change in a number portability operation to be carried out over-the-air, which would bring huge cost savings to M2M service providers who, at the same time, would be able to enjoy benefits – i.e. lower prices – of competing operators. Operators, naturally, have tried to slow-down the soft-SIM development, as is it not in their favour that the customers could change operators too easily. The soft-SIM development has been active for years; will the year 2015 be a break-through?

To summarize

If innovated correctly, Telecoms have great potential to move from passive infrastructure providers to platform and solutions providers. For the establishment of successful business opportunities, it will be integral to build good customer relationships and a strong channel presence. We can be confident that, utilizing this platform, exciting business opportunities will be presented.

What are the 2014 global SaaS trends that will shape the industry?

Cloud Market Overview for 2014

2014 is set to be a stellar year for Cloud Computing in general and SaaS in particular. An estimated 70% of SaaS customers are from “Small to Medium Businesses” with 80% of Enterprises still concerned with the Risk issues of both Security & Compliance. With 2013 being hailed as the “Year of the Internet Breaches” where everyone from Amazon to Ebay, Facebook and Forbes, IRS to Target being hacked and literally hundreds of millions of customer data being compromised, it’s no wonder “Steve Wozniak” in his now famous 2012 statement, in respect to the public cloud saw “…horrible problems…” with the cloud due primarily to the blatant lies in marketing which claim the cloud is “safer than your own private enterprise infrastructure”, an actual claim on numerous websites and in interviews by executives at Amazon, Google and other major Public Cloud companies which, in my opinion (just like Steve said) has definitely harmed the whole cloud market from a trust perspective. As executives become more educated about the realities of cloud computing and the public cloud in particular, they realize those kinds of statements are far from the truth it, and it has left a bad taste in many executives mouths for the public cloud, which I’ve experienced first hand. What it has done is made enterprise executives who see these blatant lies for what they are, much more cautious which, in the long run is a good thing since, I believe, they should take time and not jump into the public cloud without careful consideration, a lot of planning and a complete & unbiased third party risk assessment.

So, although cloud sales are steadily increasing, with total Global Cloud spending expected to reach $75B-$100B globally (depending on which analyst you speak to) in 2014, I believe the frequent and highly publicized breaches have hurt the market and so, look for a slow-down in the SaaS market overall, as companies take stock to address the security and compliance concerns before they stick their big toe into the swamp that has become the cloud market, to “test the waters” so to speak.

SaaS Service Management

According to new research by Enterprise Management Associates (EMA), most IT organizations have limited visibility into the usage and cost of public SaaS applications. I believe in 2014 you will see more organizations seeking solutions to this problem and for that reason I see the “SaaS management” market as one to keep an eye on in 2014. Both new startups and existing “SaaS Management” businesses should see an increase in sales over the next few years and you should also see a market consolidation with the best players acquiring or putting out of business the lesser product/service vendors.

Security & Compliance

Security & Compliance will be the real winner in 2014. Again with 2013 being named the “Year of the Security Breaches” and hundreds of millions of private data being compromised at mainstream websites, look for SaaS Enterprise growth to slow down even more while start-ups race to secure market share of this massive new “Public Cloud Security & Compliance” emerging market.

Currently an estimated 80% of Enterprises fear to enter the Public SaaS market (according to multiple surveys), and for good reason as the risks have been shown to be astronomical indeed. As new software, hardware and services begin to appear to address these concerns such as the new CSPComply service by Compass Solutions, LLC of Washington DC and others, we should begin to see an uptick in SaaS adoption starting to appear, however I would not hold my breath for that to occur in 2014, look for this increase to be more pronounced in 2016 and beyond.

Medical-Device Technology

Another emerging market which is expected to be massive indeed is the so-called medical-device market. Products such as the FitBit Flex wrist band and FitBit Aria wireless scale seem to motivate people to reduce weight and exercise more, as studies are beginning to show us. Currently there are socks, ankle bracelets and even sneakers which all work together as a unit with embedded sensor technology to show your heat dispersion pattern on your feet, how many miles you’ve walked, your average rate of speed, how many calories you’ve burned, your heart-rate and other data including your travel patterns.

Many of these devices utilize a SaaS infrastructure, which along with additional factors will lead to more “service” oriented SaaS business models being developed in 2014 and through the next few years, with the Medical-Device Market being a major influence.

“Hyperconverged Network Paradigm”

As technologies such as the next wave in wireless 802.11ac begin to take hold bandwidth in the first-wave 80MHz products will deliver throughout from 433 megabits per second on the low end to a maximum of 1.3 gigabits per second at the physical layer & more dense modulation schemes of up to up to 256 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM), compared to 802.11n’s 64 QAM, for a 33 percent improvement. The new protocol doubles multiple input, multiple output (MIMO) capabilities. The increase moves from 802.11n’s four spatial streams to eight streams. For users, this means a speed boost, greater up-link reliability and opportunities for improved down-link reliability as well. For the internet this means massive increased bandwidth issues which, was why the IPv6 Protocol was developed in the first place…Look for IPv6 to also be a big winner in 2014 and beyond as more and more ISP’s, Backbone Providers and Telco’s begin migrating over from IPv4 do to the massive increase in bandwidth demands in 2014 and beyond.

  •  A growing number of manufacturers are already shipping first-wave 802.11ac products for consumers and plan to expand offerings for business and enterprise network environments in the coming year. A Second Wave in Performance Speed and efficiency will ramp up even higher when Wave 2 devices for 802.11ac arrive. They’ll offer additional improvements in channel bonding by handling up to 160MHz, along with support for four spatial streams. These capabilities will help second-wave devices achieve throughput of around 3.47Gbps. (Source Cisco)
  • Worldwide smartphone shipments grew 40%, to more than 1 billion units, in 2013 and are on pace to reach 1.7 billion units by 2017.  (Source: CDW)
  • In 2014 we will see an increase of both “Smart” mobile devices, increased access to unlimited storage space on these devices via the emerging free and subscription cloud storage, and a “Quadrupling” increase in bandwidth beginning as 802.11ac takes hold, and most important of all the majority of the mobile carriers will finish large portions of their 4G/LTE infrastructure upgrades over the next three years starting with some pretty large expansions this year which most analysts seem to ignore or forget even though this will be by far the largest contributor to the “hyperconverged” market, as wherever these increased bandwidths occur, increases in sales of “smart”, “handheld” mobile device sales increased dramatically. Look for all of these emerging technologies to trigger a number of unique situations as well as opportunities and even new markets. This type of increased traffic has never been experienced before and my prediction is it will cause many problems with unprepared SaaS infrastructure capacity which you should be prepared for in 2014. However, even more important will be the emergence of the “Hyperconverged” network, the increased importance of the end-point device within the Enterprise market and the increased importance of the emerging “Bring Your Own Device” & “Bring Your Own Technology” (BYOD/BYOT) market and the management of as well as the security & compliance issues associated with it. Look for these emerging technologies and markets to become major influencers receiving large boosts in both Capital investiture as we as large sources of new ideas and SaaS solutions to address the issues which will be created by this new paradigm.

“However the reality is that all of these devices as they begin to communicate back to the cloud will begin to seriously erode the bandwidth capabilities of the current infrastructure, so look for startups with unique ideas of mitigating this increase in traffic to play a niche yet exciting and influential role as the “idea” people and “Think-Tanks”  & “Brain-Trusts” such as the new “Synapse Synergy Group” begin to come into their own in 2014 and beyond” – Quote by Jarrett Neil Ridlinghafer

 Market Consolidation

Finally, we should see a lot more consolidation of the SaaS market with the winners and losers become clearer in 2014. Look for Amazon to steam ahead and broaden their lead, Salesforce will continue to be strong although they are already looking for ways to broaden their market as their primary business slows down, Microsoft will attempt to reinvent themselves in the Cloud with their new CEO at the helm and Oracle and IBM should begin to capture more market share as both of their new services start to take hold. As for VMware it still seems a bit too early to say one way or another. They did not come out with a big splash and a few Billion Dollars to throw around like IBM and they actually do very little marketing, which makes one wonder, are they really ready or did they jump early in order to stop their slide to cloud obscurity, or are they so confident they just don’t need to advertise their cloud offering? They obviously have a massive private cloud and enterprise infrastructure base from which to draw on, so one would hope with their vendor specific offering, that all those VMware Enterprise infrastructures will pay off as Hybrid becomes a much larger player over the next 3-5 years in the Enterprise.

Paying the Price: A new regulatory framework for cards, internet and mobile payments in Europe

The European Commission presented on the 24th July 2013 its draft Legislative and Regulatory package for Cards, Internet and Mobile Payments. And it is a quite substantial and important project on which I am commenting below in an interesting, creative and provocative fashions – or at least I hope as this is the intention! As always, comments are very welcome! Continue reading

Mobile Health: A call to the doctor?

A new political battlefield

Healthcare is one of the most essential and complex issues of the moment, with huge direct and indirect impacts on people, countries and communities. Different issues are colliding from access to healthcare and affordability to aging population in the developed countries, chronic diseases and illnesses due to hunger and poverty in developing countries, global recession and financial/budgetary constraints. All these drivers are combining to increase the importance of mobile health Continue reading

Will “Staycationing” Boost the British Economy?

With summer fast approaching, many Britons would normally be scanning the Internet searching for last minute deals on holiday packages and vacations in the sun. However, this year more than ever, it appears that as many as two thirds of British families will be vacationing in the United Kingdom.

“Staycation” is a buzz word that first made its appearance in 2009 shortly after the financial crisis weakened the economy, as well as the population’s morale. A combination of the words “stay” and “vacation”, it describes the trend towards taking holidays in your country of origin. Continue reading

Hope in a Fanny Pack – Tourism in Greece

The financial crisis that rocked Greece in 2010 left the country with the weakest economy in the European Union. Forty percent of Greek jobs are in the public sector, and the plummet of consumer confidence in the government has led to the exodus of the country’s intellectual capital.[1]This phenomena is compounded with a 64 percent youth unemployment rate, leading university-educated adults to leave Greece at a rate that has come to be called the “brain drain.”[2]

Indeed, scholars are escaping like sand from the grasp of a failing economy. It may seem surprising, then, that economists are looking to the fanny-pack wearing, camera-lugging tourist as the hope for Greece’s better future. Continue reading

E-Readers: Transforming the Publishing Industry

Ernest Hemingway once said that “There is no friend as loyal as a book.”, and yet from recent figures it seems that our loyalty towards them is rapidly decreasing. According to IHS iSupply, book publishing is currently in a period of long-term decline, with a predicted decrease in the sales of paper books of 5% from 2010 to 2014.[1] Continue reading

PCs, Smartphones and Tablets: Changing the Way We Watch TV

Figures released recently by eMarketer[1] reveal that Americans are radically changing their television viewing habits. Just three years ago, they admitted to spending as much time on the Internet as in front of the television, while today, 75 million Americans would consider replacing their cable TVs with a streaming media subscription. So although television sets may become less popular in the future, television programming itself is unlikely to lose its appeal. Continue reading