How New Content Can Unlock The New Enterprise
Unleashing enterprise content could drive efficiency, accessibility and new revenues
Corporate CEO’s are increasingly concerned for their future and the future of their companies. According to a recent PwC survey, many believe that their international business might not survive more than another decade, and that their technology is inadequate for the current challenges. And that is before Web3, new content paradigms and AI sweep across their networks.
Economic alarm bells are ringing across the globe. Stubbornly high inflation and rising interest rates are leading to slower spending and higher costs of debt. Households are starting to buckle under the weight of a once in a generation hike in energy and food prices. It seems there is little respite for business after the agony of the pandemic. Even tech companies are struggling with slower growth - forced to slash costs. The Twitter way!
And yet, where there is challenge there also lies opportunity. Tectonic shifts in the key infrastructure technology that currently underpins the enterprise could help to transform these sprawling businesses from the constraints and inefficiencies of their current information systems.
Indeed, a number of experts believe that new technology could unlock enterprise content in such a meaningful way that it might fundamentally transform corporate efficiency, accessibility and new revenues. Firing up a new kind of idea-powered business more Silicon Valley than rust belt city. Providing a much needed boost given the general Davos gloom.
“It is as though every business that matters right now is a content rich business.”
The average multinational corporation has changed in nature over the last few decades. It is no longer just a maker of goods or a miner of minerals. Today, the successful enterprise is increasingly driven by knowledge and information. It is as though every business that matters right now is a content rich business. And the very content that underpins these businesses could be about to be unleashed in fundamentally different ways. And in so doing, it could alter the current technology industry status quo and create a swathe of new economic opportunities for the businesses that depend on them. A shake-up indeed. You know, like ‘Spare’ amongst the Royal pigeons.
Content and information has been the life blood of business since the invention of the Gutenberg press. This revolution was continued with the birth of the modern day computing industry. First, through systems from the likes of IBM that hard wired content into business applications, and then through nimble cloud applications from the likes of Salesforce that soft wired it. Yet, through all of this, content, the very lifeblood of any organisation, has been locked within these apps. Like a tiny diamond locked in a layer of rock with a promise from Tiffany’s that there was no blood trail.
Let’s face it, words without Microsoft Word can be meaningless. Numbers without Excel are just numbers and communications without Gmail or Slack are just pointless streams of letters. It’s as though content itself has lost its value.
The wrappers to content add value, but they also control that content often forcing the enterprise to hide and divide their vital content, and to pay the piper (application vendor) vast rents to access and manage ‘their very own content and ideas’. And on top of that, they have to pay huge sums to attempt to integrate and personalise these apps. The app economy has siloed and smothered these pearls of content - all too often hidden in the corners of the organisation layered under an endless, tangled spaghetti of corporate apps. More Heinz than Oatly for the health of our future corporate ideas.
As a result, the enterprise software vendors pretty much own and control the enterprise’s key asset - its content! And yet, in the age of the Internet, ‘Content’ was meant to be ‘King’. And who really owns that content? The corporation may have let go of more than they ever imagined. Rented out by the dream of clouds - and not the Michelangelo kind!
“By unlocking their key asset, content, in new ways, they could unleash the future dynamism of their business”.
A growing number of forward thinking companies are starting to recognise that there could be a new way forward. That by unlocking their key asset, content, they could unleash the future dynamism of their business.
It seems as though certain new technologies, combined in the right way, could help the same corporate leaders so concerned for their future to develop more dynamic, flexible, innovative and profitable businesses. You see, thanks to all these content wrappers called applications gluing up the arteries of businesses, knowledge and information has been smothered - not unlocked. It could be time to reverse that - like the Kardashians reversing ageing or Disney +’s kid-like image.
It is as though the very applications that were designed to add value to our underlying content, be it thoughts or ideas, words or images, graphs or 3D models, have ended up controlling and subordinating it to enterprise software providers’ vices and the profit-maximising constraints they put on their erstwhile clients. Rendering this underlying content and the endless ideas that it could unleash subordinate to the controls and constraints of the app it sits inside. Subjugating it as a dumb slave to clever wizz bang apps or an uncontrolled, unmanaged ‘Slack’.
And yet, things could be about to change. Thanks to the unique underlying capabilities inherent in blockchain technology, currently garnered mostly for the benefit of a new approach to currency, called Bitcoin, content itself, like this early iteration of ‘new money’ could get organised and monetised in completely new ways. If the current software application wrappers that cling vice-like to our content could get effectively removed, then we could release one of the largest constraints and ‘rents’ imposed upon businesses today. Distributing its value.
A content blockchain designed in the right way could harness an almost endless power of distributed computing to assemble and re-assemble vast amounts of internal and external data in completely new ways - freeing up the very artery of business. The smart contracts that make up the base functionality of such blockains could be used to create smart-content free of today's legacy application software. Suddenly bits, bytes, words, thoughts and ideas could float freely into a new series of more open mini-programmes that create a new panacea of ideas. A profitable, innovating pied piper for our companies knowledge and information.
The API-enterprise might replace the Cloud controlled business. Creating almost limitless, open interactions with a myriad of other businesses and media that combined can change business operations and IP into brand new products and services at the flick of a Web3 switch. You know, like having Steve Jobs attached to all your corporate thoughts (and prayers).
If we can process, share and manage our underlying content in completely new ways, like a ChatGPT for every enterprise idea, then we could change the way businesses invent, innovate, communicate and generate money. Bye bye Salesforce, hello a new content core. Like the McPlant from a Big Mac - unleashing our better selves.
“Forget Software-as-a-Service - is Media-as-a-Service our future?”
If Web3 smart contracts such as NFTs were attached to the most granular of content we create, right down to the syllable or word, picture or number, whether in 1, 2 or 3D, then the enterprise would be free to create, innovate and organise like never before.
Content’s source, provenance and integrity finally made secure, valid and transparent. Ownership of bits, bytes, syllables and images - the very essence of ideas - locked in as IP at the content level and wrapped anew by these smart contracts on top. Smart contracts telling that piece of content what it could do, how it could combine and what to re-create. Able to interconnect in new ways with all kinds of other content and ideas from a myriad of other places. Truly a new ‘idea factory’ in the making - limited only by your imagination and the roster of smart contracts off the new programming shelf. A Hogwarts to your thoughts.
A fashion media company could become a fashion retailer. An art gallery could become and art marketplace and a telecoms company a software vendor. Your people and your underlying data and ideas your only limiting factor - no longer constrained by your legacy application choices telling you what to do with them and which silo you need to keep operating in. Keeping you tethered to their balls and chains. Like a car controlled by its driver. Or a rocket controlled by Jeff (Bezos).
In this new panacea the current enterprise software vendors would need to reorganise around a post Microsoft and Google centric world, but enterprises would be able to move more rapidly and more nimbly, adapting and reorganising themselves to serve their customers and society better. Certainly better for the 21st Century’s requirements.
Ideas and IP could flow freely from below, both within the enterprise and without, empowering the new generation of workers and demanding a more modern style of management with a better distribution of costs and earnings. Perhaps we would become less dependent on the old, all-powerful, celebrity CEO. Perhaps, finally, content (and its creators) can be King!
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