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Content creators, aggregators and distributors: Forces Transforming the Content Landscape

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Bain recently issued a report associated the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2012 at Davos-Klosters, Switzerland, January 2012. In this issue of Bain Insights they write about the forces transforming the content landscape. Caught in the middle of this transformation are three types of businesses locked in both a synergy and competition.  They are: Content Creators, Content Aggregators, and Content Distributors.

As the Bain report puts it:

For content creators, aggregators and distributors, it is a time for concern as well as joy, as the landscape shifts beneath their feet. An innovation in one part of the ecosystem may reduce costs or improve the customer experience, but it might also disrupt a content creator’s business model, reduce an aggregator’s market share or diminish a distributor’s value proposition.

In this report, we profile the forces transforming the content landscape in which creators, aggregators and distributors interact with one another and with the consumer. These forces are fundamentally altering the content ecosystem with implications for users, businesses and policy professionals.

What caught my attention in Bain’s report is the section on the next level of Personalization. Companies are using technology and a number of sources to build a personal profile of you and then deliver “the most relevant content”.  Bain’s take on this is that it can rescue you from “data overload”.

Bain recognizes that micro-segmentation based on your personal habits (what sites you visit, what you search for, what you buy, what you post on Facebook, what you look at on Amazon, and probably a hundred more sources – it will only get better) may need to be balanced with a respect for privacy.

But what is not mentioned are the downsides of this “next level of personalization” or “over personalization”. You could call this aggressive personalization as “a reality of one” where content is so well “personalized” that you only see what you want to see.

The tension between protecting you from “data overload” and doing something that undermines society is well illustrated by two differing views by two men separated by 10o years of history.  One is John Dewey a philosopher and educator.  The other is Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google

Everything which bars freedom and fullness of communication sets up barriers that divide human beings into sects and cliques, into antagonistic sects and factions, and thereby undermines the democratic way of life – John Dewey

The technology will be so good it will be very hard for people to watch or consume something that has not in some sense been tailored for them – Eric Schmidt, Google CEO

You can read my previous posting here: A web for one.  The danger of agressive personalization

When a company or a government controls what you see and what you don’t see…

Read an article about Cass Sunstein, Choice Architecture, and White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs

When Nugde comes to Push and Shove

Below are a few snips from the Bain article. You can read the full content of the Bain report here

Personalisation: The next level

Key takeaways
• Consumers want relevant, personalised experiences that grab their attention and rescue them from data overload
• Companies are using micro-segmentation technologies to capture personal and contextual characteristics to create and deliver the most appropriate content
• Business operators, however, must delicately balance the consumer demand for personalised experiences with the need for respect and privacy of personal data

Key questions
• Content creators: To what extent do you let your audience dictate the direction of your content?
• Content aggregators: How do you balance personalisation with protection of each user’s privacy? To what degree must your process be transparent?
• Content distributors: How can you best incorporate micro-segmentation technologies when delivering customised content to users?

In conclusion…

Bain’s business is business.  And so they think about the changing business landscape and those challenges that are immediate – that is, personalization and the (immediate) tension with privacy.  But what they don’t think about (it’s not their mission or expertise) is the longer term effect on society.

Similar with McKinsey.  Do we really want management consultants messing with higher education ( read )?  In a McKinsey report they talk about “increasing productivity” of colleges and the reduction of “unnecessary credits”.  If the output of college is a well crafted cog to fit in the giant machine of business is that the same individual crafted for society?  Is cultural literacy an input to business – or is this an “uncessary credit”?

Bain, McKinsey, and Boston Consulting Group may be the biggest, baddest business strategy and management consultants on the block.  But beware. They tell only part of the story.  There is more to society and culture than the narrow-focused success of business enterprises.

Written by frrl

March 21, 2012 at 4:40 pm

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