I had a very interesting, entertaining and stimulating lunch today with a curious, smart and witty entrepreneur. We had a fairly long exchange (although I did not see the time fly) about the dramatic changes now taking place in the media, entertainment and marketing & communication space. The challenges are indeed momentous for established players and one of my friend's point was to say that it is not so much the change in itself that is a problem but rather the fact that incumbents are in denial because they have to deal with the constraints of their traditional business and organizational models. He went on to describe how what is now happening is actually increasing the level of complexity and fragmenting the "mass" market to the point of making it almost meaningless to be thinking along the lines of the Gaussian curve: we live at times when individuals do have an influence and and impact because the world is increasingly interactive and therefore the very nature of uncertainty is changing. He and I agree that the Gaussian curve is slowly and surely becoming less relevant.
Another thing my friend made me realize (again) is that evolution and innovation cycles are not binary in their outcomes: traditional media will remain relevant, people will still need some form of print and television will not suddenly disappear, even though new ways are emerging and the traditional ones are being reshaped by the power of electronics / digital / computing / always-on / networking... And a number of new players will perish simply because of their illusion of absolute power. The war between Madison Avenue and Media 2.0 will cause many casualties on both sides and like with "brick & mortar", the winners are likely to be those businesses that manage to combine new technologies and traditional activities in a harmonious way.