‘When no one knows how everything works, everyone needs someone who understands something’

Consider this. A new production company called Little Dot Studios was founded in 2013. Its purpose was to use its expertise in online video consumption to create successful new video channels. Within four years it was achieving 2.5 billion (yes, billion) views a month. And here’s the thing: much of that content was former television programming. Little Dot are simply better – as much as a hundred times better – than broadcasters at finding an audience for online video.

Consider Cerberus Technology. The company uses software-based solutions for the delivery of live video for major content providers, including international broadcasters. They are a startup. While their staff could be counted on the fingers of one hand, they were already winning major contracts off much bigger and more established competitors.

We’ve all heard the amazing statistics for the growth of Netflix or Facebook. But the fact is the media industry is being turned upside down at every point in the content supply chain. If you suspect there’s a Little Dot or a Cerberus just around the corner that can do what you do, only completely differently, better and much cheaper, you’re almost certainly right.

When the DPP brought experts together to formulate our predictions for 2018, did they want to talk about virtual reality, blockchain or Internet Protocol? Did they heck. Right at the top of their predictions they put: “Transformation in media economics will cause huge instability.”

In short, nobody knows how everything works anymore. The task no one wants is to write a business case – for anything. Much has been made of the revolution in consumer habits. But far less has been said about how that revolution is now playing through the media supply chain.

There are genuine drivers for performing almost every process differently. But common understanding of best practice has collapsed, and no one has yet constructed transparent, predictable, robust cost models for the burstable, data-led, as-a-service world we were promised and which it turns out we actually need.

So does success now come down to the survival of the newest? The answer is emphatically no. At a recent DPP leaders’ event at the NAB show, senior executives from global companies such as Fox, Adobe and IBM came together with exciting new entrants Little Dot, Cerberus, M2A Media, Novamente and Grabyo to share strikingly similar views on the power of partnership and collaboration at a time of transformation. Major players are looking to partner with smaller, newer specialists. Meanwhile those newer specialists belie their size by smart partnering.

When no one knows how everything works, everyone needs someone who understands something. Lots of smart somethings can add up to big wins. Of course, the choices companies make about who they partner with and where they should go it alone may in themselves be life and death. The wrong partner could be a dead weight.

And this is why in many respects the winners and losers will be determined by how well a company knows itself, and how well equipped it is to shed what’s unnecessary and identify where value really lies. It’s far less media economics than a corporate personality test.

The DPP, as the media industry’s business change network, has the privilege of meeting companies on an almost daily basis that are exploring the relationships they need to succeed through change. They vary enormously in scale, age and activity. But they have common characteristics of reflectiveness, openness and collaboration. In short, they have a winning personality.