Monday, December 18, 2006

Predictions for 2007

There are any number of people offering media predictions for 2007 and it is a fun exercise which can also be a useful tool for strategic planning. Consultants use a tactic called ‘scenario planning’ to generate discussion and thought focused on issues impacting a business. In sessions I have managed, I have placed up to ten ‘scenarios’ or predictions on the walls of a conference room where each member of the group is given instructions to vote on the likelihood of each scenario without speaking to the other participants. The scenarios reflect a combination of the existing status-quo and an extrapolation or exaggeration of anticipated market change. Each scenario should be plausible and represent a challenging future environment in order to generate legitimate discussion.

A red dot placed on the scenario means it will never happen and green means the participant agrees it will happen. The scenarios can be anything that the facilitator decides could be relevant to the company but should be done in consultation with someone at the company. (The scenarios are not shared before the meeting). Additionally, they can be absolute; ‘this will happen’ or more general ‘over the next five years…’

As the group completes the ‘voting’ the facilitator has the group examine each scenario in detail and will encourage the group to think about the implications of each scenario in a few dimensions; technology, human resources, competitors, etc. The outcome of this exercise is a better understanding of the company’s challenges and an understanding of the company's possible weaknesses (or strengths) relative to the scenarios the group thinks most likely. A document should be prepared from this seminar session and this document can become a material part of the development of a strategic plan. Even discussion of those scenarios the group does not believe are likely can be useful in challenging the executives to closely examine their assumptions.

This is an exceptional exercise in encouraging senior management to examine, understand and interpret what is going on in the wider world as a fundamental requirement of their daily responsibilities. It can be the case that management develops a bunker mentality and is subsequently blindsided by events that they should have anticipated.

My predictions below are not fully thought out scenarios for a number of reasons – they are not specific for one thing – but nevertheless they are fun to think about. As an editorial comment, I emphasize that I have no inside information on the veracity of any of these.

Predictions for 2007:

  • NYTimes will eliminate the Saturday print edition of the newspaper. It will also create local web news sites for every major metropolitan city in the US and will stream video from their owned broadcast television stations, classified advertising will be free. The company will also launch a citizen’s paper: The New World Times. NYT will create suite of news gathering tools – web services – and make available to ‘citizen journalists’ content and research traditionally only available to professional journalists.
  • YouTube tv: Just like America’s funniest home videos we will see a TV show based on original YouTube video content. It will win its’ night by 10% and will be turned into a weekly Saturday night talent show.
  • Using cell phones’ camera as a barcode reader will lead to an explosion of mobile in-context/ in situ mobile advertising – followed in 2008 by RFID based in-store advertising (with software for cell phones). Mobile advertising will surpass 5% of all ad dollars spent by agencies by end 2007. (Web currently at 20%)
  • Google launches product placement advertising program. Based on similar key word algorithms advertisers will bid for placement in movies, television, other broadcast, sports, etc. prior to production and/or live telecast. Program will represent 10% of all fall 2007 upfront spend.
  • FCC will hold hearings on standards related to product placement advertising in late 2007 as the market explodes.
  • Apple will think about buying Disney and Electronic Arts but will buy Tivo and SlingBox. Apple will also launch a Beatles version of the I-Pod including the entire Beatles catalog plus video/movies. The Beatles I-Pod will retain the tradition Apple artwork (Green apple front, cut away apple on the back).
  • Yahoo will by EA and within six months launch a social network gaming site based on EA content.
  • No-one will buy Netflix
  • Social Media in Education: Several major US colleges will teach various social science coursed entirely in simulation. The courses will not be taught in traditional lecture form but entirely within the software simulation.
  • News Corp will buy Dow Jones and Financial Times and sell Harpercollins and Hachette will by Harpercollins.
  • EBay will by Linden Labs (Second Life). Within six months they will integrate Ebay selling tools into SecondLife enabling virtual store fronts, sales assistance and virtual trading. Will launch program with major retailers and create first Second Life mega-mall in cooperation with Westfield. Ebay also launches SecondLife media placement agency to handle all media inventory on SecondLife.
  • T Mobile buys Skype from Ebay.
  • Linden dollars will be included in the Feds M1 currency calculation.
  • Neil Young’s Living with War wins the Grammy for best Rock Album.


Anonymous said...

I particularly like the Linden Dollar prediction.

One predicition that would excite me the most however is the suite of tools from the NYT! How cool would that be?


Anonymous said...

I typically do not like reading everyone's predictions, but yours caught my attention I was impressed. I relunctantly predicted one thing on my blog, which was that IBM would buy Second Life. I do think your eBay will become a significant presence within Second Life, but not buy it. I really liked your YouTube Tv prediction. That makes total sense.