Two of my favorite media and First Amendment scholars, Thomas G. Krattenmaker and Lucas A. Powe, once observed that “it has become a trivial ritual to observe that telecommunications technologies and media are converging.” But while “convergence” is a buzzword that has been uttered in almost every conversation about technology, communications, and media over the past decade, that doesn’t mean the significance of this phenomena should be casually overlooked or ignored by policy makers, business leaders, or consumers. Indeed, technological convergence is set to upend the entire media universe and public policy along with it.
If you don’t believe me, then you need to check out this excellent new report by Deloitte entitled Digital Convergence: The Trillion Dollar Challenge. The Deloitte report notes that “increasingly substance is displacing the hype” about convergence. They cite numerous examples of how convergence is at work–and with a vengeance–in the technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) sectors.
Rapid convergence for TMT is being driven, they argue, by three underlying trends:
(1) The Proliferation of Digital Data: The general digitization of all information and content in our new economy;
(2) Widespread Connectivity: The tying together of previously diverse information, networks, devices, organizations, and communities; and,
(3) Technological Advance: The unrelenting pace of technological change and innovation–most notably embodied in Moore’s Law–which continues to make everything in the Digital Economy faster, cheaper, smaller and more energy effiecient.
These convergence factors, the report goes on to argue, can be expected to “create new product categories, new markets, and in some cases even change the structure of existing industries–shifting the balance of power and altering the basis of competition. Some companies will win; some will lose; and some will stand idle as the best opportunities pass them by.”
Traditional media and communications companies… are you listening?