31 January 2005

Summit for the Future - Amsterdam

Last week I participated for two days in Summit for the Future in Amsteram. I missed the last day because I had to run off to a project in Edinburgh.

During the Summmit we listened to some very knowledgable speakers and discussed preferred futures in five sectors: Trade, Energy, Healthcare, Science & Technology, and Media. Tom Lambert, Vladimir Petrovskiy, Glen Heimstra and Wendy Schultz (the speakers) shared their thoughts and identified some trends that are shaping the world and impacting our future. We then broke out into discussion groups focused on a particular sector with our own set of speakers relevant to that sector.

Jonathan Marks led the Media knowledge stream where I was a participant. He had invited Paul Kafno, Helen Shaw, Wim van de Donk, and Gerd Leonhard to share their thinking about the future in different areas of media.

Paul Kafno - previously with BBC and now with HD Thames - addressed the future of the viewing vehicle, basically High Definition TV. He said we have an opportunity to re-invent an electronic service to the home. He also said our big challange would be to find a way to re-purpose entertainment brands where people will pay. Most likely convergence will drive the strategies behind how the different technologies will move forward. According to Paul, "immersion" - high level engagement moving into mediated experience - will come from our engagement with high defintion viewing. People will be the dynamic hub rather than technology.

Helen Shaw and Wim van de Donk shared their experiences with the changing mandates for creating media policy.

Helen - a longtime broadcast journalist - has been investigating the globalization of media relations and its impact on democracy. She addressed the consumer-citizen quandry, where our different needs and wants in each of those roles reflect the conflicting nature of how we operate as a society. The profit driven agendas of the big media players are at odds with the public's values, and the public is demanding verification of the content and delivery of information. Trust and accountability will drive the strategies of information dissemination. Helen sees fragmentation into smaller media groups to serve a greater purpose as the way forward. The partnerships and alliances are key to survival, not as organizations, but as a culture. She sees a convergence of social, political, technological, intellectual and creative content for the public good.

Wim van de Donk looked at the new map and functions that the evolving media landscape has to fulfill for society. He sees a policy repertoire as creating relationships with audiences. Policy has to reflect the real landscape and society's values. We have to create policy that's aligned with what's happening and not make broad policy for the long-term. He belives there is growth opportunity for media economics as it becomes inclusive and less exclusive. Protectionism can no longer drive strategy. Media policy needs "learning".

Gerd Leonhard comes out of the music industry and wowed us with his take on the role music plays in our lives and how we will access and share it. He wrote the book, The Future of Music. Technology will move to the background. filters will become crucial. People will swap libraries. The content economy will change from per unit ownership to a subscription model for access. The future digital home wll have computer technology as the backbone in the background with a big high definition screen on the wall. The mobile phone will be our tool and channel for accessing and playing content. Time-shifting - download, freeze, replay later - is the trend. Packing "lifestyle" will be a key service.

My out-take from those sessions on the dynamics shaping our future were rather simple. All of this will change the traditional business model. Age dynamics will play a role in how. The "digital natives" born after 1981 will have a much smaller population than the ever-living "digital immigrants", which will push the envelop with bio-technology augmenting any aging issues. In a much more global context, we will see responsible human practices drive business behavior. We - people, individuals - will demand a more people-centric, social values based model. The personal brand will drive new economics, not the business brand.

I have to speak with Jonathan Marks to find out how they closed out the Summit, and if there were any BIG eye-openers after that.

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