Observations from the 2011 Broadcasting Australia Conference

I had the opportunity the week before last to speak at the Australian Broadcaster’s conference and meet with a few clients in Sydney and Melbourne. Everywhere I went I was talking about the findings of our Beyond Content IBV paper from last fall and my recently published new book from Harvard Press, Not for Free-Revenue Strategies for a New World.

My comments seem even more timely in this market which in someways is protected at least initially from some of the major disruptions happening to major media companies in the US and elsewhere. It continues to appear that trends take longer to have an impact down under because of the smaller size and isolation of the market. I remember going there about 3 years ago to talk about the digital transformation and being asked to take pictures for the press with a traditional newspaper and newsstand in front of me. I did suggest this was contrary to my message to be informed that at the time newspapers were still growing in this market. I suggested that would not be the case for long which did prove to be the case.

Similarly at this year’s conference the old and new to some extent seem to coincide and the digital market continues to slowly develop. There was a big push from some of the speakers to the government to support a broader/expanded and improved wireless and digital infrastructure. The government seems to have already moved partially in this direction with it’s plans for the National Broadband Network it plans to build and share among distribution content providers. The NBN is a fiber optic network that the government plans is to cover 93% of Australian premises with a speed of 100 Mbps and a satellite system to cover the remaining 7% in remote areas. Clearly some of the leading edge countries such as Singapore and Korea have benefited from such national infrastructure investments to drive accelerated digital activity and business models. These investments should create accelerated consumer demand and challenges to existing business models in Australia as well.

While the speakers talked to the digital change forthcoming and opportunity, some of the focus was still on creativity in content. While creative content is always key, I spoke to the need rather for increasing creativity in business models. Our CEO studies have shown the importance of business model innovation and more recently creative leadership. As US content companies have already learned – as new consumer experiences are created by consumer electronics companies, software providers, or social net work platforms, the ability to capture value may in fact shift along the value chain as well. The key is to focus on and drive the consumer experience to grow and retain value.

I stressed the need to accelerate digital experimentation with new revenue models and or risk losing value to the global experience providers who may dominate over time. The message seemed to have been heard and well received by the digital community as I had several requests for follow up discussions to make those points to senior management of several major companies. But the struggle continues as to how long this market can remain isolated from the accelerating global trends.

The transition may evolve more slowly in Australia but it is surly coming. The time for creative leadership, experimenting with business and revenue models is now before the bigger digital wave strikes Australia. Sustain your core is key but so is finding your future for the increasingly digital audience.

More from Australia:

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The Australian – Business with the Wall Street Journal Article

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