Over the course of one week in July, three events caught my attention. Individually, each is interesting enough. But seeing them all happen in such a short time illustrates how different the environment we are operating in is today than it was a few years ago—and points to where things seem to be heading very quickly.
Emmys Aren't Just for TV Anymore
When I was growing up, the Grammys were music awards, the Oscars were movie awards, Tonys were for plays, and Emmys were for television shows. But when this year's Emmy nominations were announced, the political drama House of Cards received nine nominations. This caught people's attention because House of Cards didn't air on television; it was streamed to people's Android phones, iPads, Xboxes, and other devices we watch things on, created and distributed by Netflix. It is the first Web series to earn a Primetime Emmy nomination.
Netflix now has more subscribers in the U.S. than HBO. It uses sophisticated analytics to understand what subscribers want to watch, when they want to watch it, and what device they'll be watching it on. With this knowledge, Netflix built a distribution platform and deals with content providers, and now is mixing in its own unique shows it can roll out.
With the success of House of Cards and other Web shows, not only is Netflix considered a streaming television network, it is now running television commercials for its shows...shows that don't air on television, but that can win awards that were meant for shows airing on television.
Creating the Next Record Label...on YouTube
Also in July, it was announced that Russell Simmons, cofounder of Def Jam Records, is partnering with Universal Music Group (UMG) to create All Def Music, the first record label created to discover/develop artists on YouTube that is connected to a major distributor.
What's interesting isn't just that the largest music company in the United States is partnering with the guy behind my favorite hip-hop label of all time; it's that they are both going all-in on YouTube as the discovery channel to do so. With 72 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, there are a lot of needles that can be found in the haystacks when the right filters are in place.
In an interview, the head of digital for UMG says with this approach, there isn't anything they can't monitor and track. And instead of going with a gut instinct, they can leave it up to what the fans and data tell them before moving forward with an artist. YouTube becomes the discovery mechanism, the feedback/analytics platform, and the distribution channel all in one.
Nate Silver and the Move to the Omnichannel
The last of the three developments may not have been as anticipated as LeBron James' decision show on ESPN where he announced he was taking his talents to South Beach. But Nate Silver, the man behind The 538 Blog, who successfully predicted the outcomes of the last two presidential elections, made a decision of his own to move his talents from the venerable New York Times to ESPN.
This was a fascinating move. Before Silver used his statistical powers for politics, he used them as a sabermetrician for predicting baseball outcomes. But when the Times snapped him and his blog up, it was all politics all the time. And that paid off big time as his blog accounted for upward of 20 percent of the traffic to the Times during election season.
ESPN will allow for wider distribution of his content. And according to a Politico article, this will allow Silver to expand his statistical approach and brand to other areas, such as weather, economics, and, well, sports.
All three developments show that the platforms we've grown accustomed to have changed, and will continue changing our institutions, behaviors, and expectations going forward. But large and small businesses alike still need to figure out how to leverage them to survive and thrive today and understand that people are still the driving factor behind the success of any platform that comes around. So leverage them to understand what your audience wants—or what your employees need to reach their career goals—and deliver it to them the way they want it. That will help you keep up with the changing times.
Brent Leary is cofounder of CRM Essentials, an Atlanta-based CRM advisory firm focused on small and midsized businesses. He is also the author of Barack 2.0: Social Media Lessons for Small Businesses.