Saturday, 6 July 2013

Should we cheer or castigate the BBC's dreaming

Just over a month ago the BBC was heavily criticised over its failed Digital Media Initiative. Today 'auntie' is in the firing line over abandoning 3-DTV "as another costly failure". Do you think the criticism is right?

£100m was spent on the digital media initiative before failure was admitted, we don't know how much the 3-D dream has cost. I don't really think you can blame the BBC for the reality that so few of us have bought 3-D televisions - the analogue switch-off forced many to replace TVs which really had nothing wrong with them and the economy meant that replacement of TVs was not something necessarily welcomed - why would anyone upgrade again to 3-D so soon?

But if the UK really wants to feature in the new digital age, is it not appropriate that state funded organisations, such as the BBC, should be encouraged to innovate and lead the way in thinking and experimentation. If the Digital Library and 3-D had turned out to be massive successes would the government not have wanted to use those as exemplars?

I think we should cheer the BBC for its dreaming and trying, and I sincerely hope these recent failures will not stop the dreaming and trying. However, we need to learn the lessons of failure. We need to learn how to be faster at spotting the failures and put in the checks and balances to protect the innovators from themselves without stymying their vision. Our industrial strategy needs to reflect this too.  The UK lacks dreamers and visionaries but we also tend to deify them and reward with a seat in 'the Lords'.

Procurement needs to work out ways which can help costly innovation mistakes going too far. Gateway reviews should help but clearly haven't. We need more prototyping. We need to also be part of the innovation team.

Procurement has another role, not just in stimulating the market to innovate but also being more innovative in procurement practice. Do you not find it strange that the global financial crisis has not led to any paradigm shift in procurement thinking? Where is the zeitgeist? Have we not just dis-proved, that in procurement terms, 'necessity is the mother of invention'?

If we want to move forward we have to accept sometimes the stat-nav just doesn't work and we have to go back to the drawing board. Sadly, the BBC appear to have let two projects go too far, but that doesn't mean we can't learn constructively and help successfully turn more dreams into reality.

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