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Archive for November, 2008

Tech Predictions 2009: Music-As-A-Service (…at last)

November 16, 2008 Leave a comment

The title says it all, and I believe that 2009 will be the year in which we start to see some real music-as-a-service propositions come to life. Although some existing online music services may claim to be already providing “music as a service”, but such services are often limited in one way or another. To my mind, a real music-as-a-service proposition would be able to supply: any music, any time and on any device, perhaps in a model akin to utilities e.g. water / gas / electricity.


The technology components to deliver this vision are already available today, and several trends in online music provision / consumption lend further support to this outcome. However, the biggest stumbling block remains the ever so excruciating process of license negotiation with rights owners, but even that is slowly becoming less of an insurmountable task given the number of online music services that can boast of content from all four major music labels and numerous Indies. So I can predict that it won’t be long before we see a proposition that offers real music-as-a-service; and one of several exciting fall-outs from this could be mega mash-ups of music content distribution and channels with a multiplier network effect (Think Rock Band meets Pop Idol meets Virtual Worlds, with an Alternate Reality Game ARG thrown in for good measure). You heard it here first.

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Note: Originally posted on Capgemini’s Technology blog at: http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2008/11/tech_predictions_2009_musicasa.php

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A Daniel Has Come to Judgement

November 14, 2008 Leave a comment

I just couldn’t resist posting about the fact that the Judge on the original Napster case is now calling for major copyright reform. It seems like there really is hope around the corner, even if it’s taken a long time coming.

The story is well covered on Wired’s blog, but essentially the good Judge Miriam Hall Patel appears to have come to the realisation that modern copyright is in dire need of a radical overhaul, if it is to cope with the demands of a digital world (as we’ve observed in a previous post). Perhaps no one else is better placed to make this statement more convincingly than Judge Patel, who also proposed the formation of a new copyright administrative body with the powers to effectively govern a more forward looking copyright system. Furthermore, and this is the best bit, this body must include representatives of ALL competing interests (including consumers and content creators), not just the usual suspects of music industry heavyweights, and their lobbyists, as is so often the case. Certainly makes a case for the five key stakeholder groups of: content creators, technologists, businesses, governance and consumers, to be represented at the very least

So we have a situation where a credible figure from the governance group (aka “the other side” for some) is calling for a common sense approach to addressing a major stumbling block to the frenetic innovation and opportunities presented by the world of digital content. I say hurrah for Judge Patel, and about time too, especially in light of the ever-raging debate over the future of music (a recent example of which can be found here). However, I think that even this proposal does not go far enough because, in order to create a truly successful copyright regime for a global Internet, this initiative really needs to be undertaken at a global level. But I’ll gladly settle for the US or the EU showing leadership in this area, especially as they may have the most to lose or gain, either way.

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

Help – there’s an architect in the boardroom!

November 13, 2008 Leave a comment

Not trying to be facetious, but apparently this is a typical reaction by most board members when confronted with certain members of this species. The title of Enterprise Architect (EA) may conjure up a vision of uber-geekdom & rarefied techno-speak, which can only get in the way of communicating with regular business folk (who are dependent on technology to run their businesses efficiently). Therefore, it has become imperative to break down these barriers / perception, at the highest levels, and the good people at Capgemini’s University have designed just such a course to address this particular issue.


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The excellent Boardroom Enterprise Architecture course, (which I was fortunate to attend last week), does exactly what it says on the tin. It focuses on the key responsibility of an enterprise architect to communicate effectively with all stakeholders, especially those that operate in the boardroom. The following are some key messages / highlights from the course:

Found in Translation – We explored the role and value of enterprise architecture as a means for articulating the relationship between business and technology (especially as the gap between the two is now almost non-existent). The key is in communicating with the board in a language they can understand (i.e. not “architectese”)

Real World Perspective – A visit by Capgemini board member, Pierre Hessler, provided valuable insight into the various personalities, and agendas, of the individuals that might be found in a typical boardroom, e.g.:

  • They are often extremely goal-oriented, with above average intelligence, and not very easily convinced – (therefore must have robust / evidence-backed reasons to engage successfully with them)
  • They can be somewhat egocentric, and usually gifted with highly developed survival instincts / awareness – (it may be beneficial to align key messages to relevant areas of interest / immediacy
  • They tend to have a full plate and not really interested in taking on more stuff – (simplicity is key)

Techno-Transformation Leadership (even in uncertain times) – Also discussed the position of TechnoVision as a business transformation context for architecture, which opens up the possibility of translating the output from powerful tools like the TechnoVision Matrix into directly actionable business outcomes, based on the robust models and principles of Enterprise Architecture. This would provide the discipline, traceability and flexibility inherent in any well architected solution or system.
To conclude, I thought this was a timely and well facilitated introduction to the future of Enterprise Architecture, as an upstream enabler of real business transformation, and it certainly deserves the positive feedback from all attendees (see example here). Hopefully, as a result, this architect may soon be playing in a boardroom near you!

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Note: Originally posted on Capgemini’s Technology blog at: http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2008/11/help_theres_an_architect_in_th.php

And The Band Plays On.

November 6, 2008 Leave a comment

Certainly makes an apt title for the current and future states of the music business, because despite all the doom and gloom surrounding the recording industry and / or the credit crunch, and other similar tales of woe, it hasn’t all ground to a screeching halt, yet. So does this mean there is room for some optimism after all?

The following nuggets, and micro trend indicators, highlight just a few things that might lend further credence to this viewpoint:

  • Artistes are still producing stuff, lots of stuff, and they are using every conceivable media outlet available to expose their works. This is somewhat contrary to the widely propagated perception that piracy is killing the creative artiste. It is also often held that a “true” artiste is arguably one that creates things “because they must” and not necessarily because they are paid for it. Hah!
  • Music is far much easier to produce, remix and collaborate, thanks to digital technology. This supports the above point (i.e. by better enabling the creative process) and, perhaps sadly, the perception by some that music is of less value as a consequence.
  • The real music business of licensing and publishing is still doing great, and will continue to do so for some time to come; especially with the regular entry of other / new and innovative players into the game. There is still money to be made here, without a doubt.
  • The games and music combo is big, and will get even bigger. This is obvious given the explosive growth of music based games like Guitar Hero, Rock Band and other derivatives of the genre
  • Virtual worlds are going to be huge for the music industry – faint glimmers of this potential exist with the likes of Habbo virtual music festival, and other in-world, band-to-fan direct interactivity facilitators.
  • Oh, and don’t forget mobile music. The returns from mobile music can only increase along with the various; always connected, fully mobile, all-you-can-eat models, services and supported devices that could very well spell the end of iPod’s dominance.
  • Music usage and tracking technologies will play a major role in accounting, reconciliation and royalty distribution, among other things, and they could be used to lead the way towards a more robust method for implementing legal music-as-a-service propositions
  • Evolving online music distribution and pricing models – Nothing is off limits, not even Apple, because Artistes can now use iPhone Apps (wrapped around a track or album) to get around the 99 cent per track limitation on iTunes (i.e. just when you think you have it cracked, someone always finds a way to do it differently).

The current and future horizon of the music industry is replete with these and other, perhaps even more innovative, developments. Therefore I’ll boldly say that the future for music is indeed bright, (not necessarily Orange), but bright nonetheless. The main reason behind all this, in my opinion, is that music and technology have always been very closely intertwined; ever since the first acoustic instruments (e.g. sticks and stones) provided rhythmic accompaniment to the song and dance of our early cave ancestors, (perhaps in celebration of a successful hunt, with said sticks and stones), to the very latest ultra-techno-whizzo, uber-kool, online / in-world jam session simultaneously happening in both real and virtual worlds. Finally, technology innovation in music always brings great opportunities right alongside the more immediate and disruptive consequences, therefore a time invariably comes when the former exceeds the latter, and it appears that time is at hand for this particular episode.

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.