Monday, December 7, 2015

Design Thinking for a Smarter Media Industry -- Redesigning the Customer Experience

A recent NY Times article on Design Thinking at IBM leads me to suggest how movement toward the FairPay architecture can complement and help fuel the trend toward design thinking -- especially for digital content and services (notably in the media and entertainment industry). That article suggests that "In the design thinking way, the idea is to identify users’ needs as a starting point" and that it involves "user journeys" and understanding user "empathy maps." I suggest that FairPay helps move us toward better design thinking at two levels:
  • As a form of design thinking, FairPay makes consideration of the user -- and empathy and experimentation related to that -- central to every customer relationship.  FairPay is a new logic for conducting ongoing relationships that adaptively seek win-win value propositions in which price = value. FairPay sets prices through an emergent process of ongoing experimentation, with the full participation of the customer. This shifts the entire focus of customer relationships from price to value.
  • FairPay can help drive entire businesses and industries to re-center on design thinking -- by shifting the customer journey to drive dialog with customers about value propositions -- and to reflect that in pricing, so that it factors directly into the bottom line. That can drive everything else.
My own career-long focus has been on what I have called "user-centric" thinking (my half century in media technology began with a user focus, and on the customer side of IBM, with two decades inside IBM "large account" customers, before shifting to media technology entrepreneurship).
  • That focus is what led me to develop the FairPay architecture as a more user-centric form of customer relationship that solves many problems inherent in our old logic of seller-set prices,  take-it-or-leave-it value propositions, and inhospitable customer journeys. 
  • FairPay is built on consumer participation in pricing, as an emergent process that seeks adaptively win-win value propositions. It adds explicit dialogs about value as a core process within every customer journey cycle
FairPay is particularly well-suited to the media industry, where the new economics of digital content challenges traditional notions of value and fair price (as outlined on the HBR Blog). These challenges have put the news and music industries in disarray, and are disrupting TV/video, games, books, software, and other digital services.

There is growing recognition of the problem, and the strategic opportunity for more adaptive and user-centered thinking, as exemplified by this NY Times article and the recent Harvard Business Review cover articles it refers to. There is also growing recognition in the media industry that piracy and ad-blocking are symptoms of customer-hostile value propositions, and that what is needed is not more coercion, but more cooperation.

Having gained recognition of the potential of the FairPay concept from Jim Spohrer, who was the driving force behind IBMs Service Science initiative, I hope to find wider interest in this new strategy from elsewhere in IBM, as well as other companies providing business strategy and process improvement services to the media industry. My hope is that such service providers will help executives in media businesses appreciate the strategic importance of experimenting with unconventional business strategies like FairPay. Again, the appeal here is that the win-win customer journeys of FairPay not only embody design thinking and service-dominant logic, but bring it directly into the bottom line, to help fuel a broader transformation in business.

Specific to the media industry, an IBM white paper is entitled "Smarter Media and Entertainment: Reshaping the operating model and the customer value proposition in the era of big data." While there is obviously much to do in that regard, and much progress is being made, I submit that FairPay provides processes for taking this far deeper than is generally recognized to be possible.

I am now devoting much of my time to developing FairPay as a pro-bono project, because I think it can change the world for the better. I would be happy to work with media companies and their service providers to help develop these concepts and prove them in practice (at no charge). I am also collaborating with some eminent academics who can help with that, and have some interest from media subscription platform providers.  (I welcome inquiries at fairpay [at] teleshuttle [dot] com.)

Background on FairPay and how it works

To understand just how FairPay can fuel this transformation, see the Overview of FairPay and the sidebar on How FairPay Works (just to the right, if reading this at There is also a guide to More Details (including links to a video). 


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