Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm thinking that its Option A

I commented on the appointment process for the Programme Manager for the Government's Broadband programme a month or so ago.

I'm pleased to see Ralph Chivers appointed to the role.

Ralph has huge experience - I hired him into Telecom. TCF has made good progress under his leadership. I hope he can leave some of the bureaucrats behind and really drive a solution forward for NZ.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Why it's hard for governments to execute policy

This government is taking some bold steps to do the right things for NZ. But I say now that until the fundamental machinery that executes its policies changes dramatically, it's just not going to have a chance of succeeding.

Great initiative, invest $1.5 B in improving New Zealand's broadband. However the very first step in execution, identifying an appropriate person to run the first stage, is going to an RFP which is open for a week.

Let me repeat that.

The critical success factor for getting you and me a world class broadband service is going to apply and be identified in a week by submitting an RFP.

There are two scenarios here

A. The MED already knows who they want (because Joyce has told them) - which means it is just a waste of time

B. This is the *standard* way of recruiting a project manager for government - the same process is used to determine supply of paper for the government as it is for project managing a mission critical investment.

There will be a number of very interested parties given all the politics over the last few years around Broadband. They are the wrong people for this role.

It's going to take a lot more than an opinion about broadband to deliver what is needed. It needs someone who has been through the fire of billion dollar projects, with a vast range of stakeholders, and delivered. On top of that, they have to be up for doing it all again.

The right person for this role will be a kick-ass programme manager who's only aim in life is to execute programmes brilliantly. That person is not going to be submitting an RFP. You will have to crowbar them out of an existing position. You need to look for these people - they don't come to you.

Why ?

Because someone will have worked out they are a kick-ass individual and will be doing everything they can to keep them doing great work for them. The right person will take time to find and convince that this is not a lemon of a project. The right person will get NZers the maximum value for $1.5 B. The wrong person will blow millions just getting started.

I sure hope that it's Option A...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

How Freeview, TiVo, Browning and Telecom fit together

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/24026191@N02/3353222455/

I've been following the TiVo and Freeview developments with interest.

I always thought that there was a good market for a decent PVR (akin to MySky) for Freeview in NZ.

There are interesting parallels in the UK where BT launched MicrosoftTV (known as MediaRoom) with the UK Freeview service under the banner BTVision.

It's been clear here that there is not enough capital for Freeview to do this on its own in NZ. Just take a look at the MyFreeviewHD link on the site.

It's basically a simple page that says you can buy a Freeview approved PVR that can record 2 channels with a basic 8 page programme guide. It's clear that there is no appetite to release this product.And they have just followed the same branding as MySky HDi without the 'i'. You have to look hard to find one on the site. When you do, you'll find is $1150. Ouch.

What is also clear is that Freeview is reaching a maturity point as a business. The infrastructure is in place and I would be surprised if more than 50% of installed decoders are stand-alone. My pick is that a fair chunk of them are embedded in TV's like Sony Bravia. So not much left to do for a start-up - all the work is being done by the Consumer Electronics companies.

Enter TiVo - I think this will shake up the local marker due to its pure simplicity. The reason TiVo is successful in the US is because it is smart about recording programmes in an Amazon kind of way. MySky is totally driven by the customer - so the ability to 'discover' new programming is down to what other people tell you. TiVo's strength is that it predicts what you might want to watch based on what you have recorded already.

It's a different proposition to MySky.

It's also a different proposition to Freeview - TiVo is about control.

So that is why it's attractive to Mr Browning who announced his resignation today. It's not a defection as opposed to a well managed move given Steve's previous background at TVNZ.

It will be a different business to Freeview - which is about digital quality - and will require more input. Input in terms of cash and product management.

Which brings in Telecom.

Hybrid TV have stated they are looking for a third investor. Telecom has always had an aspiration to get into Internet based TV. There have been multiple attempts - FirstMedia, trials with Sky, investigations with Freeview. But it's never really worked out what its role is - content delivery, content aggregator or owner. This meant it made some pretty poor decisions by trying to play in areas where it had limited skills i.e. trying to own swathes of content.

This is a gift wrapped opportunity to get into TV in NZ in a relatively cheap way without having to deal with content rights. Development risk is low, technology and brand are proven, there are no major content deals to be done (movies are easy for anyone to get). It's the right way to do it.

I would pick them to add this to their refreshed home broadband proposition - home VoIP, broadband and TiVo - which they could bring to market later this year. Only speculation on my part but its what I would do!

As long as Seven, TVNZ and Telecom - should it be them - stay in governance mode as opposed to management mode then Steve will have good support to hit his 120k customers in year 1.