From Forbes ASAP Magazine - April-June 1995
From pie to sky, the natural evolution of downsizing to looking to the future (plus some nasty mail) has refocused my efforts on how and when to deploy information technology for the big win. Appropriately so, my new moniker is In Your Face, based on the simple theorem that technology is rapidly moving from a back office restructurer to a front office tool.
How does your company acquire customers? How does your company interface with those customers once you have them. How does your company keep those customers?
You’re probably stuck in the ‘80’s. You have a large sales staff (no cologne jokes anymore)? Big marketing budget? Big ad budget? A telemarketing organization? All those are fine if not a little old fashion. It doesn’t matter if you are selling business to business or directly to consumers, what you want to be is in your customer’s face. More than just “attention K-Mart shoppers,” or “y’all come back soon, y’hear.” I mean in their face with influence peddling stuff. In my mind, that spells V-I-D-E-O, which proves itself again and again as a sales tool. It’s delivering that video that is difficult, expensive, and inefficient. But alas, technology can not only help, but offers a cost effective solution to get and keep customers.
To understand that, let’s study the mass media model.
When it comes to media, it's all a matter of perspective. From a broadcasters point of view, television is the sacred medium for news and entertainment, embodied in the concept of public trust. On the other hand, from the computer industry view, video is just a rich data type to handle. From the markets view, (vendors and advertisers) TV is just a slick medium for selling soap. Or toothpaste or cars or whatever. As an investor, I will take this final view to determine the economic model that will help proliferate interactive video.
Come to think of it, ALL media (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines) are just platforms for selling. Medium that are not platforms for selling (movies, books, theater) are sold themselves. Even movies which for the longest time made sense on a pay per view basis (theater, cable, video rental), are increasingly merchandising selling tools. It is now obvious that the medium is not the McLuhan-esque message, instead, the medium is the market.
I am convinced more than ever that interactive video is real and the next major growth market for technology, media and communications. It is still confusing what the economic and business model will be to stimulate and proliferate IV. I am about to take a cut at it, here it comes, boiled down to one memorable phrase:
Interactive video will be the teaser that sucks customers into the virtual market place.
In other words, it's gonna sell soap.