Direct to consumer digital content providers are creating challenges for themselves because they often try to bolt disparate solutions together to create an end to end platform. What happens is that the provider will select some combination of player, content manager, payments solution, and subscriber manager and assume they can be integrated into a seamless solution that will scale and deliver multi-device, cross platform content.
But how many times do we need to hear a story like this to know how it ends? Too costly. Too risky. Impossible to maintain. Won’t scale. Delivers a lousy user experience.
There are many reasons why IT shops fall into this trap. They range from ego to inexperience, and from poor due diligence to an assumption that budget will be saved by rolling their own.
But in the big picture, making the choice to cobble complex components together shifts the issues at hand from technology and business opportunity to cost, effort and risk. The task is no longer to deliver competitive business capability. Now it’s one of program management – can the enterprise navigate risk, budget, management support, and requirements pitfalls to reach a successful outcome? Too often the answer is “no.”
In this sense, digital content is no different than other large scale IT roll outs. The key differences however, are competitive in nature. First, the market already has high expectations for what a digital content experience should be. Apple and Netflix, for example, have set a high bar. Anyone that wants to compete in this space needs to meet and stay with that rising set of expectations.
Second, digital content is entirely client-facing, and worse, consumer-facing. If a major implementation of an ERP system goes sideways within an enterprise, it’s not likely to be something that thousands of critical consumers Tweet and blog about. But, as Flixter discovered, when digital content roll outs go even a little bit sideways, the court of public opinion swiftly hands down harsh judgements, resulting in negative public perception that is difficult to mend.
The bottom line for anyone that wants a healthy share of the direct-to-consumer digital content opportunity is “don’t try this at home.” There’s no reason to add risk and complexity to a challenge that already involves high competitive stakes and significant technical and business complexity.