What can Netflix tell us about the future of conferencing?
Remember back around 2007, when you signed up for a Netflix account because you loved the idea of a huge catalog of movies and games being delivered to your mailbox within 48 hours?
Oh yeah, Netflix also had that “streaming thing” that came along with your monthly fee, but nobody really used it because, well, there was nothing good to watch (unless you’re a fan of Soccer Dog: European Cup). The good stuff was always delivered by mail.
Today, that Netflix streaming product represents more than 30 percent of the nightly internet activity in the United States. The most popular content, such as House of Cards, is produced by Netflix itself. Meanwhile, when was the last time you received a Netflix DVD by mail?
A lot has happened online since 2007 – and it’s not all about content. Bandwidth – that measure of the volume of information your internet connection is able to deliver – has gotten much, much bigger, says Brad Phillips, project manager at Mira Smart Conferencing. “We used to think a three-megabyte download was good. Now a 100-megabyte download is available to just about everybody.”
Phillips said the increase in bandwidth has created a huge demand for wireless viewing devices such as smartphones, tablets and internet-ready televisions. That, in turn, has created an equally huge device market, driving prices down and putting tablets in the hands of hundreds of millions of people. It’s a self-reinforcing loop that has major implications for conferencing.
Imagine your conference content – every abstract, poster, video, speech, panel discussion – available anytime, anywhere. What could you do with such a library?
Amazing things happen when bandwidth and device meet content and creativity in the conference industry. For example, in recent months, The ISSCC (International Solid-State Circuits Conference) released ISSCCx, a series of online course previews created in collaboration with online education giant edX. The online offerings give viewers a taste of advanced online education available through the society (links at the end of this post).
Think about your archival conference data – your library. Conferences such as yours have this massive amount of knowledge. There are so many things that can be done with it, in addition to the standard book printing, cd burning, USB drive gifting and cloud hosting.
- It can be made public on the internet
- It can be made available to members only
- It can be distributed as part of a subscription (think Netflix)
- It can be shared with a fee per download, a la carte
When you start thinking about your content as a demand product, ready for distribution to an information-hungry world already outfitted with the capability to consume wherever and whenever they desire, you’re starting to think like Netflix.