Friends, I write this blog from the hallowed halls of BAFTA, the sky is almost purple outside as the rain cascades down on Piccadilly. It gets better, I am being watched by the most beautiful picture of Audrey Hepburn I think I have ever seen.
This is the life…
This week was Internet World at Earls Court 2. That jive was jumping. It was packed, and despite having a fast track pass, I still couldn’t get into any of the Keynote Speeches I had diligently circled (Radio Times Style) in my programme. It seems people are falling over themselves to find out how to optimise their products for Google. I think I did hear Yahoo and Bing mentioned. Once. But the world of web belongs to Google. No question.
I do wish people would just relax about all this SEO stuff though. It’s an evolution not a revolution.
I can’t help thinking that there was really nothing new there. No innovation hardly, and the little I saw struck me as overly engineered and not commercial enough. Mostly it was the same old companies selling us the same old thing.
So it’s left me wondering, do we really have to keep moving, just because we were once called NEW media. Or can we stand still, take a breath, and then move on?
Maybe. However it really was very mundane. I lost count of the Email marketing solutions, and PPC experts exhibiting. And I sat through a demonstration of a content management system that was beyond boring. Not to mention from the dark ages. OK 1998 tops. And not a semantic approach in site.
All except one company, Webnodes. Who presented an interesting web-based semantic management solution. Albeit heavily tied to the OData protocol. And as I said before it is Google who are inheriting the earth in this space…and perhaps not you know who…
When I was Director of IT, Strategy, Enterprise and Business Operations (I needed a double sided business card for that title) at Discovery Networks, I worked with a genius architect. He was trying to figure out what our data model might look like across the many, many different silos that were home to the meta-data for our content. There wasn’t, and still isn’t, a single repository, for all the data relating to a particular piece of content.
That’s where semantic search came in. Our brilliant architect was looking at what our company-wide taxonomy might look like. Essentially so he could begin to inject tags to our content to give it meaning and context. Thereby creating data ‘mash-ups’. A bit like the IMDB does client-side.
There was even a commercial imperative to him looking at this. That of creating and publishing TV listings to the all of the TV magazines, newspapers and internet sites around the world in house and not paying a fortune to a third party. Then further down the line for publishing to enhanced EPG’s to enable the Searchability of the brand and content in a connected TV world.
Frustratingly, there wasn’t enough of an ROI for our Technology department to re-architect the myriad content management solutions and the project kept falling on the back burner. Despite the business constantly blowing on the embers to keep it alive.
For perhaps the first time, the business were totally engaged with the technologists on this project. Essentially because they understood a clear business application for the work. (They could see the dis-aggregation of their content looming large, as traditional Pay TV models continued to plateau or even decline, depending on which market they were in).
The financial investment to explore and implement an industry & company-wide standard taxonomy, which now thankfully seems to be in place courtesy of www.schema.org, along with re-architecting the various Content Management Systems proved to much. The core revenues from traditional Pay TV were still substantial enough. And when pitched against a mere potential return in the semantic world, the ROI, just didn’t stack up.
I guess therein lies the rub. Will we, as an industry, ever get to understand the balance of investment required to prepare ourselves for the future of our business-world, while maintaining the integrity of our core revenues for as long as possible?
I wish I knew the answer to that.
So, back to our notion: Just because we work in digital / new media, does it mean that we have to constantly evolve, and do something or be something new? Can we just stand still for a moment, and enjoy the view? And most importantly, could we invest in increments, as the revenue models and user engagement are actually proven?
Please let me know your thoughts, I’d be really interested in them.