It is perhaps, as a great leader once said, ‘The End of the Beginning’

18 Feb

To paraphrase Winston Churchill, we have reached “the end of the beginning” of the online revolution.

A recent week in Europe, including the wonderful Burda DLD Conference, followed by subsequent meetings in SF, LA and NY provides an intriguing glimpse of what comes next:

To me, the omnipresence of broadband in the developed world, coupled with ubiquity of mobile computing (over smartphones, iPads or other portable devices), a generational shift towards e-engagement and the growing power of massive data in the “cloud” are changing every business assumption in the media, telecom and internet economy. These powerful forces are all coming together to create conditions for a huge new wave of innovation that will forever disrupt the information, entertainment, communications and technology economy.

While challenging to navigate, this is an unprecedented opportunity for better products for consumers. There should also be very interesting new business models. And finally, all this should mean intriguing opportunities for investors.

A couple of focus areas – for me:

1.Platforms: The next generation of technology is now being developed that enables media companies to mesh diverse programming assets (video, social media, commerce and communications) into radically new engaging products (For shorthand, think ‘Avatar’ Meets ‘Bloomberg’). Also, technologies will also enable the same media owners to distribute these valuable new programming assets over the bundle of distribution channels (broadband internet, wireless, television and telecom). More on this to come.

2.In the Enterprise and Professional Media sectors, a new generation of opportunities is arriving as the social and real-time web (Twitter, Facebook) meet the Enterprise. This will revolutionize marketing, advertising, and much of the content business. It will also lead to business process reengineering in sectors ranging from content creation and product development to procurement and HR and Training/Talent Development Retention. Mark Benioff’s SalesForce Chatter which went private beta yesterday is a timely example.

3.Business model opportunities: Mobile and Location-specific targeting and monetization. Think lead generation and couponing with increased effectiveness at the point of purchase.

4.Product-Line Opportunities: Hyper-Verticalized Initiatives. Both hyper-local (geographic) and hyper-targeted (Demographic/Psychographic).

It is somewhat early days with all of these themes. But my prediction is they – and others – will keep us all busy for some time to come.

PS: Let’s all watch with great interest as the US FCC unveils the results of its multi-quarter analysis of the broadband opportunity in America. That, too, will surely have some interesting after-effects.

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