Disruptive technology keeps incumbent media executives on their toes

25 January 2017 Consultancy.uk

The rise of disruptive technologies and business models in the media sector is causing considerable concern among sector executives, many of whom say that they are not well prepared to deal with increased, and new, competitive pressures. Executives are particularly concerned about the use of social media, customer experience, cloud and broadband based technologies.

Media companies face a barrage of new threats, from new entrants such as Netflix disrupting traditional television, to large advertising platforms such as Facebook, disrupting the traditional revenue models of, among others, newspapers. New technologies are likely to create a host of new threats, from improved competitive business models for competitors, to new entrants taking market share or completely disseminating markets as such.

To better understand how media organisations are rising to the opportunities, and threats, KPMG, for its ‘A call to action Disruptive technologies barometer: Media sector’ report, surveyed 580 senior executives within media companies from 16 countries.

Media organizations are ill-prepared for disruptive technologies

According to the respondents, considerable uncertainty remains around the preparedness of media companies to the effects of disruptive technologies on their respective markets. Around 33% of companies report that they are very prepared in terms of a strategic vision for technology, while 31% say that they are prepared in terms of executive support. Knowledge of available technology solutions preparedness comes in at 27% of respondents, while 25% have their budgets very well in order.

The consultancy firm’s own analysis of the survey results finds that the relative lack of preparedness means that it is likely many companies remain unsure about the direction from which disruption may arise, even while the firm’s research shows that those that are slow to react or respond to changes, risk being left behind.

Reasons for negative impact on company performance

In terms of the kinds of negative impact disruptive technologies may have on the businesses surveyed, competitive pressures standout – 74% of respondents cite that new competitors have emerged from within their industry as a result of leveraging disruptive technologies. 61% of respondents note that disruptive technology has allowed new competitors into their industry from other industries, while 44% say that incumbents are using disruptive technologies to get an edge over them.

Respondents too are expressing more existential concerns, with 44% saying that disruptive technologies are undermining their company’s business model, 44% say that they can’t invest enough to keep and 43% say that they are only willing to bet on proven technology – leaving them behind if a risk pays off for a competitor.

Areas of concern for media companies

The research also asked respondents to consider the potential impact of disruptive technologies on their business in the future, and their respective concern about those impacts. The biggest concern is ‘the use of social media to disrupt how media providers engage with consumers’, cited by 87% of respondents. ‘Cloud-based technologies and services disrupting business models’ came in second equal with ‘broadband and mobile growth threatening the suitability of traditional media platforms’, both cited by 81% of respondents.

Further risks, cited by respondents 80%, 79% and 77% of respondents respectively, are ‘disruptive technologies threatening monetisation in the media sector’, linear programming being replaced by non-linear programming’ and ‘core operating models needing to be updated in the face of pressures from disruptive technologies’.

Examples of such concerns are the effect of companies such as Google and Facebook on the advertising revenues of traditional media platforms, such as television and newspapers. These companies, which are themselves not publishers (or so they claim) in the traditional sense, are continuing to ramp up advertising revenues – often leveraging content from traditional publishers – Facebook for instance has increased advertising revenue from 57% in the first quarter of 2016, from $3.3 billion to $5.2 billion.

Impact of disruptive technologies on the way media companies run their operations

While the research notes that there are risks for companies that are unable to react in a sufficiently timely manner to disruptive technologies, it too finds that many companies understand that disruptive technologies also offer a range of opportunities to improve their own businesses performance.

When considering how various technologies improve operational performance, in terms of a moderate or significant impact, 80% cite marketing platforms and data and analytics as impactful, followed by ‘mobile’ and ‘digital payments and currency’, both at 79%. Social media too is seen as a key route for deriving tangible business improvement, as cited by 77% of respondents. Lowest scoring are 3D printing, cited by 63% of respondents, and robotics, cited by 62%.

According to Peter Mercieca, Global Chair of KPMG's Media and Telecommunications arm: “Disruptive technologies can act as a driver of change, breaking down old processes and ways of doing things. Its effects, however, are pervasive, requiring business to invest differently, plan differently, let go of old assumptions and habits, act boldly and adapt. Indeed, in order to create sustainable new revenue opportunities for their companies, media leaders need to be early movers or fast followers.”


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Red Consultancy drives interest in Schubert's formerly Unfinished Symphony

08 March 2019 Consultancy.uk

Strategic communications firm Red Consultancy collaborated with Huawei to demonstrate the potential of artificial intelligence. Huawei engaged an AI programme on one of its smartphones to help complete Schubert’s famous Unfinished Symphony, almost 200 years after the maestro commenced its composition.

Franz Schubert's Symphony No. 8 in B minor, D 759, commonly known as the Unfinished Symphony, is a musical composition that Schubert started in 1822. While the Austrian composer lived another six years, he left the piece with only two movements. The reason he left it unfinished – despite having made sketches some way into a third movement – continues to be discussed and written about, and has two centuries of classical music enthusiasts wondering what might have been.

Despite numerous attempts, it remains one of the most intriguing pieces of unfinished symphonic music of all time. Now, the world may finally have an answer to the conundrum of just how it might have ended, however, thanks to work from technology firm Huawei. The Chinese multinational ‘completed’ the piece, some 197 years after Schubert last set it aside, with the assistance of artificial intelligence (AI) running on one of the company’s smartphones.

By running an AI model from the Huawei Mate 20 Pro smartphone – which was designed specifically with AI-based tasks in mind – Huawei was able to analyse the timbre, pitch and meter of the existing first and second movements of the symphony, before generating the melody for the final, missing third and fourth movements. At this point, Emmy award-winning composer Lucas Cantor was enlisted to arrange an orchestral score from the melody that stayed true to the style of Schubert’s original structure. 

Walter Ji, President CBG, Huawei Western Europe, explained, “At Huawei, we are always searching for ways in which technology can make the world a better place. So, we taught our Mate 20 Pro smartphone to analyse an unfinished, nearly 200 year old piece of music and to finish it in the style of the original composer. We used the power of AI, to extend the boundaries of what is humanly possible and see the positive role technology might have on modern culture. If our smartphone is intelligent enough to do this, what else could be possible?”

The final, Huawei-completed piece was brought to life with a live performance at the iconic Cadogan Hall in London on the 4th February. The 67-piece English Session Orchestra performed to an audience of over 500 guests, showcasing for the first time this unique ending to Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, illustrating the potential of human talent augmented with AI in the process. On the back of this, Red Consultancy worked with Huawei on a viral marketing campaign to deliver the final product to millions of listeners across the globe.

Red Consultancy is a professional services firm which offers advisory services to clients looking for PR, digital and content expertise via its 140 staff in its Soho offices. The firm develops and manages campaigns, runs major press offices, and steers brands and businesses through engagement with media, consumers, customers, stakeholders and internal audiences both domestically and internationally. According to Red Consulting, its Huawei campaign has already resulted in over 11 million views of the Unfinished Symphony video content, from more than 1,500 pieces of international media coverage, and an estimated reach of nearly 900 million.

Commenting on the story, Maureen Conlon, Huawei Lead Director at Red Consultancy said, “Working with an ambitious brand like Huawei challenges us to consistently think outside the box and come up with truly unique and creative campaigns. For Unfinished Symphony, we worked with the client from initial ideation all the way through to activation and the Huawei team at Red Consultancy could not be more thrilled with the result.”

Related: Red Consultancy handed new role with Munchkin.