In this guest column, QVIVO founder Liam McCallum looks at the increasingly important role cloud-based services play in a world of proliferating data.
Data has been called the new oil, and this is a useful metaphor for how brutal the battle for data ownership and control will be.
From social media to mobile banking, data passes through the virtual hands of many, and just who owns what part is not quite clear yet. In fact, a recent panel discussion at the prestigious Brookings Institute in Washington, DC posed the possibility that third-party storage companies will be among those most likely to flex their power as the data ownership question evolves from a discussion to a critical business issue. Companies such as Google, Apple and Amazon could become even more formidable companies than they already are, and newer players like us at QVIVO will join them in emergence.
But just how such companies will play the game, how copyright will be protected, and what level of privacy will be afforded to consumers are the crucial and intimidating questions immediately at hand. Those of us already handling mounds of data each day continually struggle to find the right balance.
Since we were founded by former executives from Electronic Arts and Disney, we brought lots of relevant experience to these questions. So we asked ourselves on which side of the fence between content owners and consumers do we sit? But we quickly realized that for us there is no fence, no us vs. them. We’re working together to ensure consumers can access their media from any device.
The drastic swing from consuming media at set times in set places to audiences enjoying media anytime and anywhere is a radical shift in the industry. But instead of creating an antagonistic situation, this is actually an opportunity that the smartest content owners and technology companies are taking full advantage of to create even stronger businesses together.
In order to accomplish this goal, however, everyone must play by certain agreed-upon rules. First, the industry must understand that emerging cloud-based media services are shaking off the negative connotation of “digital lockers” which are perceived by some as having built their success upon illicit sharing of copyrighted content. That’s part of why today’s cloud-based media players such as Google, Amazon, and yes – QVIVO, don’t allow any public sharing of files at all.
Regarding uploading, these pioneering cloud-based media companies clearly state that the onus of liability falls on the user to ensure they have all the necessary rights to their videos and music to use those cloud services.
This new breed of digital locker opens opportunities for content owners to work hand in hand with consumers, building positive relationships with fans rather than policing them. With file sharing concerns off the table, everyone involved can focus on providing content and services highly tailored to the individual.
Then we must ask ourselves how customers feel about having such a tailored experience, and to what extent their personal information may be used to do so. The line between personalized and creepy is a blurry one to draw, and it’s a line that constantly moves in this age of targeted Facebook ads and spooky Google Adwords. We believe that cloud-based services, especially those that deal with user’s personal files, need to take the strongest precautions so that no personal identifiable information leaves their virtual walls.
Another concern looming on the horizon is geography. Cloud providers have regulations based on their country of operation, but data often crosses borders in ways legislatures never imagined, leaving these waters pretty muddy. Data is often replicated around the globe to ensure reliability and speed, for example.
There’s no clear solution yet, but it’s already an important issue. Users need to be aware that many cloud-based services are global, not local. They can’t assume the laws in their own country are the ones affecting their use of any particular service.
Essentially, storage companies such as Google, Amazon and QVIVO are seen as the central forces in the data game because that’s exactly what we are. And it is important to work together so that everyone benefits.
Liam McCallum has served at the forefront of the digital entertainment industry for over 12 years. Before founding QVIVO, Liam served as Online Technology Director at Electronic Arts (EA) where he oversaw the Web, Digital Distribution, eCommerce, DLC and Online Marketing teams across the Asia Pacific region. During his tenure at Electronic Arts, McCallum spearheaded the region’s expansion into digital business models which are among the fastest growing business units in the company. McCallum recently left EA to start QVIVO, a cross-platform cloud based media service.