Conduits of Content

In a few weeks I’m speaking briefly on a call with executives at Korn/Ferry – the world’s largest executive recruiting firm. My remarks will cover major trends in the consumer tech space and how the global search for talent will be impacted.  For several years now, I’ve talked about companies reaching to create a 360 degree solution. Today the drive towards a 360 degree solution is pronounced. In some corners of consumer tech it is no longer simply a nice approach – it is an integral part of competing in that segment. So how does this impact talent acquisition?There are currently two places in the consumer tech space that are particularly influenced by OEMs working to create a 360 degree solution: app-enabled devices, and content viewing devices (for lack of a better term).

The first is obvious of course.  Between mobile phones, tablets, other portable devices, and even a fledgling attempt with TVs app-enabled devices are all the rage – and therefore all the focus – in the consumer tech space. Apps naturally integrate pretty seamlessly into the portable/mobile user experience so mixing hardware + services/connection + content/information creates this 360 degree solution relatively easily (at some point in the future I’ll cover why apps on TVs might not be the best way to approach a 360 degree solution). The third element of this equation – the content/information aspect – has largely been driven by 3rd-party developers for iOS and Android devices so the OEMs of the underlying devices have been left to focus on the first two elements. For other devices, the OEMs have taken a much more active role in creating apps (or encouraging their creation).  Amazon – long rumored to be moving more fully into the tablet space was recruiting Android developers earlier this Spring.

OEMs of adjacent products looking to leverage the network effects created by app-enabled device have deployed significant aggregate dollars to develop apps for these OSs because they are in essences the 3rd party developers. In this way, these later OEMs are working to create their own 360 degree solution and take advantage of any lift provided by the underlying mobile devices.  Sonos is a great example of these type of OEMs. Sonos markets an adjacent product that can take advantage of the network effects created by these mobile/portable devices and propagate a 360 degree solution – hardware + service + content = mobile device + Wi-Fi + Sonos.

Today’s content viewing has become increasingly democratized.  Tonight I could have watched my choice of MLB games through a myriad of different distribution points. These include an assorted mix of several distribution services across a varied of hardware options.  For example, I could have watched MLB.TV on a computer through MLB’s separate app for the iPad, through MLB.TV’s app on Boxee on a TV, or through several different paid TV options.  I’m sure the list could be extended. I’ve completely excluded sites like Justin.TV.

OEMs have taken notice of this democratization and are increasingly forging partnerships to bring content offerings to their mix of deliverables.  This is foreign territory for traditional OEMs unaccustomed to working with Hollywood.  As a result there has been a rush of hiring on both sides of the fence.  Hardware OEMs and other parties like Google (see here and here) have been hiring Hollywood expertise. In most instances, these are completely new positions.  At the same time, Hollywood studios and other content houses are hiring hardware expertise to help navigate the partnerships necessary to ensure ubiquitous access to their content on a host of devices and across a myriad of services (while still monetizing their assets. Never before, have hardware OEMs been such important conduits of content.

There are other hot segments in the consumer space, but these are two undergoing the biggest talent acquisition transformations.  I expect the current trends to continue for at least the next 24 months.