Track 7: Intergalactic

I’d like to re-run this article based on some recent UV play in the news.  Remember this one?

It’s been a few days now that I admitted that I am indeed a Fool for not knowing my company was involved with UV.  Well, I’ve been digging to avail myself of my Fool-ishness, and I have another confession to make.  I promised to not release any WikiLeak-like cables, but today’s discussion comes pretty close.

You see, I was inspired by the Beastie Boys as I was learning more about UV.  I was listening to Hello Nasty, and it freed a thought.  While I’m still not really sure what the song means, the chorus of “Intergalactic” made me think about some of the very real challenges that UV is going to face as its members drive internal alignment of stakeholders in their organizations.  This alignment must be centered around the specifications, license agreements and other legal documents that UV will require.  Let me explain.

UV, as we all know, is made up of 60+ member companies and over 400 individuals.  Each of these individuals have different jobs within their companies – from Business Development, to Strategy, to IT, to Legal, to Marketing, to Design, to Customer Support – you name it.  Suffice it to say there is a wide swath of company functions represented at UV.

Rolls of roles

As an example, let’s look at roles within studios and how UV impacts different internal stakeholders.  To name a few functions at a studio, UV spans Corporate Development (How will UV make the enterprise money?), Home Entertainment (Will UV cannibalize my retail business or threaten Blu-ray?), Strategy (Is Digital the right thing for the shareholder?), Content Protection (Does UV threaten the safety of our property?) and Marketing (Will the customer care?).  For a device manufacturer, you’ve got Strategy (How does UV impact my existing and long term partners?) and Business Development (Where’s the money?), Hardware Engineering (How will these specs impact my chips?).  The same issues show up at retailers, technology companies, and cable companies.

However, due to the impracticality of sending dozens of resources to each UV meeting and each conference call, there seem to be crusaders from each company who do the best they can to represent the agendas of their organizations.  The implication is that these subject matter experts will best represent their own perspectives on interests – because that’s what they know how to do and that’s what has made them successful in their companies – and potentially overlook other internal interests of their organizations.  Yet, each stakeholder will need to sign off on the complexities of UV.

Change is constant

It gets more complicated considering stakeholders in digital are changing all the time. The challenge arises when you consider the ongoing debate within organizations about where the decision-making regarding digital entertainment, and therefore Ultraviolet, resides.  Re-orgs continually occur to try to systemically address the disruption caused by digital and the changing business models. But, studios, device manufacturers, technology companies and retailers are still figuring it out.  While most of us won’t admit it publicly, our big company’s left hand doesn’t always know what the right is up to. That’s certainly the case in my company.

So what? Driving external alignment among member companies is a huge task.   Driving internal alignment around the wide reaching UV agenda is equally as difficult a task in a big company.  Yet this is what’s necessary to launch a complicated cross industry initiative.

A forced metaphor

So if you haven’t gotten my Beastie Boys inspiration for this article, here it is: Astronomers say that planetary alignment, or more accurately, “planetary configuration” (when all nine planets are within the same quadrant, ie 90°) happens approximately once every 200 years. The last time it almost happened was in 1983.

I hope this rare configuration when things come together isn’t the case for the myriad stakeholders of Ultraviolet.  Recognizing this may be the case is the best place to start for UV.

What can be done? What does Intergalactic mean, anyways?

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