Assets such as apps are being distributed through a network of devices that is extremely difficult to track. And as Gareth Mitchell-Jones explains, somebody needs to leverage and guard this on behalf of all of the stakeholders.
You’ve got an app for this and an app for that, but which of these have you actually downloaded successfully and then become bored with before trying to get a refund from your provider? While such behaviour is foreign to most of us, our recent industry experience with one communication service provider (CSP) suggests that there are so many claims of failed downloads that it could have cost up to £6m of revenue in fraudulent claim back activity.
The challenge is that there’s no standard for apps, downloads or any other media that is available to all CSP’s, media owners and intermediaries to validate what is downloaded when its supplied by someone out of the core network. In many cases all that is received is the company name and the money claimed by the intermediary or asset owner – this breakdown in information flow and metadata is where the problem lies.
Regulating a plethora of formats
With the proliferation of developers producing apps, content and other digital assets, there needs to be a global standard that all relevant parties sign up to in order to transact and undertake business. The developers, distributors, deliverers, device producers and recipients all expect and need a framework – yet getting them together to agree this across the plethora of formats is a real challenge.
Whatever one business determines is right for their needs, the next business will have a different view. Agreement may be reached on a quorum of metadata definitions and standards, but not everyone will push for these to be supplied or even subscribe to them. Indeed, research into the success, or perhaps failure, of provider-run schemes highlights this fact recognising "a poor track record with this type of industry consortium
A body to unite stakeholders
Only last month, the BBC reported 24 of the largest CSP’s had linked up
to accelerate the supply of applications to add to the watch list for failed consortia, whilst the operating platform market followed the general trend of consolidation seen elsewhere in the technology sector to compete. This isn’t the first industry to suffer from this problem, and it won’t be the last.
A resolution to this problem requires the creation of a body to leverage and guard this taxonomy on behalf of all of the stakeholders. It needs to be an organisation that’s in it for the long haul, and that holds expertise in managing a vast network that an entire business sector relies upon.
In true digital style, it’s likely to work on a subscription basis with money and value being earned through the systems created to cope with the massive electronic flow of information that many access as an everyday part of life. The assets being tracked and measured could include adverts, images, messages, music, news, books or video – to name a few.
Black and white data records
For the vendors, developers and distributors, information will be accessed through white and black data records akin to those of the credit industry held against every individual identifiable to a set of devices which can be linked to the assets they consume regardless of the channel, location or type.
The white data, hidden from direct access aside from operational, legal and regulatory functions will contain individual level data. This would pertain to use, misuse, illegal distribution, access and playback alongside other activities associated with non-compliance or the needs of the day to day business operation.
The visible, black data will be aggregated for cross industry benchmarking purposes, with access at individual level restricted only to those who own the transactions that their members undertake. This data will be used to provide intelligent recommendation and search systems, updates, linked content and upgrades or fixes to bug ridden applications. After all, no one wants to waste time browsing through an asset list to find what they want, nor does anyone want to pay for something that isn’t value driven. A preferable solution would only show the content based on profiled needs and price deemed to be fair.
Taking responsibility for the thirst for knowledge
There is a thirst for insight, information and facts from the online world never experienced in the offline world. Information is now produced, consumed and disposed of in quicker fashion than we’d care to think about it – but with a level of accuracy currently unparalleled in measures such as brand, reputation, quality and value for money.
From this will emerge market gaps, experience maps and feedback on what the consumer truly wants next and, more importantly, when? With developers pushed to create and innovate, various professionals are taking limited pockets of control, all acting independently of each other. In an environment like this, all kinds of boundaries will be ignored and the eco-system will progress in an uncontrolled fashion.
So who should take responsibility to bring these measures to fruition? Is it the media owners, the platform developers, the advertisers, the governing and regulatory bodies – including law enforcement agencies? It is of course all of these, each with their own slightly different needs. All would subscribe on the basis of increased rewards and performance generated through sharing data openly for the greater ‘good’. For some it will be all about revenues and profits, for others it will be the accolade of being the best at what they do. For the majority, it will be about protecting their asset and eventually, for all, it will be about responsibility and sustainability.
Time for industry change
Assets are being shared, copied, torrented, bluetoothed and generally distributed through a network of devices that is extremely difficult to track. Complex procedures are evolving to monitor where they have been distributed, by whom and what ‘losses’ or ‘exposure’ an asset’s owner has accrued.
All of this is fighting against the challenge of time, with the taxonomy for the digital age needed now. Yet many of the lead practitioners are yet to recognise its importance of establishing a platform which enables disparate industries to converge for successful and sustainable growth.
Gareth Mitchell-Jones is director of analytics at Experian.
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