Evolution – Can You Teach An Old Business Model New Tricks?

Evolution – Can You Teach An Old Business Model New Tricks?The Web’s impact on traditional media continues.  The concerns that gripped much of the traditional media years ago appear to be taking their toll as Web 2.0 proliferates through user-generated content, videos and online communities.  At the same time, new technology is creating opportunities for resourceful organizations that are willing to adapt.

I’ve seen quite a few examples and here are three that I think cover much of the spectrum of options that exist for organizations today.

1)      The death of Gourmet.
Alltop pulls together several resources placing the blame for the death of the 68-year old magazine icon of food snobbery squarely at the feet of the food blogger.  The magazine, for its part, did little to adapt to the new reality of this business and lost the battle in the end.

2)      Adapting old models to new channels.
I’m talking TV here. Battles against the DVR have been lost (and the VCR before that) and time-shifted viewing is the new reality.  How do you fight that?  In addition to getting creative with product placement (using products for financial consideration in the program itself so that commercial-skippers can’t avoid them), you get on board with time-shifted viewing by streaming online.

The major networks are all now offering full episodes of their new shows through their own Web sites as well as on online TV like Hulu.  Full episodes are supplemented with online-only short videos and some community interaction.

The benefit is one of control.  Shows are available, but networks control when they become available (to protect their broadcasters), how long they remain available (to protect DVD sales) and can force you to endure the commercials (to protect advertisers).  They are taking their current business models and extending them through an online channel.

3)      Evolving through new technology.
I am an NPR addict.  I listen in the car.  I listen at home.  I’ve been known to listen online and to podcast shows to listen to on my MP3 player.  Public radio has been using this technology for a long time to make programs available.  This year, they stepped it up a notch.

Introducing the Radio Bookmark.  It’s a small USB device with a button.  As you listen to your public radio station, you push the button to set a radio bookmark.  You then plug the USB into your computer and it puts your radio bookmark into an account so that you can listen to that story again or pick up where you left off (say goodbye to sitting in the driveway moments!)

It’s a novel way to bring together online and offline media technologies, but the real beauty of the device is that you need to maintain your NPR membership to use it.  So instead of your $150 contribution getting you another Car Talk CD, it is buying you a better radio experience.  Public radio stations are adapting their business models in the light of the new technology.

These three examples represent the opportunities and challenges facing all organizations today when it comes to online technologies.  You face a choice – will you embrace technology and adapt your business model to create a better overall experience, will you try to use new technology to support what you do today in essentially the same way, or will you resist change and risk irrelevance?  What choice is your organization making?

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Ben Dillon

About Ben Dillon

Ben’s a big picture type of guy. He loves sharing new ideas in digital marketing, keeping a watchful eye on healthcare industry trends and seeing how it all intersects. A sought-after speaker, writer, blogger and current SHSMD board member, Ben’s an influential voice in healthcare marketing, helping organizations across the country embrace online strategies to engage health consumers. Combine his industry savvy with his background in software development and you can see why he’s also an important member of Geonetric’s software team, ensuring our content management system stays a step ahead of market needs. Ben holds a master’s degree in eBusiness and strategic management from the University of Iowa and a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from the University of Michigan. When he’s not traveling and evangelizing, Ben enjoys cooking with his family and playing the Big House with the University of Michigan Alumni marching band.

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