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What Foxtel’s Game of Thrones crash can teach your business about technology

Danielle Uskovic
Danielle UskovicDaenerys Targaryen + Head of Digital Marketing Asia Pacific
I am Daenerys Stormborn of the House Targaryen, Mother of Dragons.

I’m a Digital Marketing aficionado with a passion for all things innovation. I have lots of experience across business-to-business and consumer sectors leading award winning sales and marketing teams for ASX 100 and Fortune 500 companies. Currently, I am head of Digital Marketing for Lenovo Asia Pacific. I’m passionate about innovation and the difference technology can make in our lives. It’s an exciting time to be working in digital and seeing the impact it is having on businesses everywhere.

You can follow my escapades on twitter @uskovic

The Game of Thrones season premiere sparked a near-record amount of interest. The show’s cult following has, for quite some time, made it evident that they’re ready to go to any lengths to see the latest material and learn more about the iconic show. In Australia, however, this led to an unprecedented problem: Foxtel Now, the only streaming service that was able to show Game of Thrones in the country, wasn’t able to support what many sources call an “unprecedented” demand. Viewers of the 8:30 pm showing of the season premiere–not to mention other Foxtel Now viewers attempting to access content on the site at the same time–discovered that the system crashed, making it impossible for them to view the much-anticipated content. As one news site pointed out, the only thing worse than Game of Thrones spoilers is not being able to watch the new season at all!

The Problem

Game of Thrones is an incredibly popular show, reaching a wider audience than any other currently on the market. Its worldwide popularity has only continued to grow as the show has outstripped the books upon which it was based–and the much-anticipated season premiere, which will move the show into the long-awaited winter, had fans changing their plans and altering their schedules so they didn’t need to do anything but sit in front of their television. This led to an unexpected number of people worldwide attempting to watch the same show at the same time–and the numbers were far higher than anticipated in Australia, though perhaps they shouldn’t have been. Australia is known to have some of the highest rates of Game of Thrones piracy around the world. Frustrated viewers, after realising that they weren’t going to be able to watch the show through any legal means, wondered if perhaps returning to piracy might be the best way for them to acquire their access to the popular series.

Foxtel Now was not alone in its inability to meet the challenge of increased demand. In fact, streaming services across the United States and Latin America also experienced challenges, outages, and glitches throughout the streaming process. Outraged fans struggled to watch the newest episode of their favourite series worldwide. Simply put, the current streaming technology worldwide simply wasn’t up to the demands placed on it by this latest release–and it’s the customers who suffered as a result.

What This Means for Your Business

If you deal with technology at all, it’s critical that you learn from the Game of Thrones season premiere fiasco. The struggle of frustrated fans who simply wanted to watch the latest episode of their favourite series was bad enough. Other technologies, however, need to meet even higher demands–and they may not be up to the task. You don’t have to be in media to know that your business needs to keep up with the times and offer incredible performance.

Bigger, better, and stronger isn’t just a slogan. Your technology needs are constantly changing. Customers have new demands with every year that goes by–and they expect your business to keep up with the times and provide them with the latest technology just as they’ve asked for it.

You must innovate constantly. Staying ahead of the demands of technology is an ongoing challenge. In order to meet it, your company must constantly be at the forefront of innovation. That means encouraging a culture of innovation in the workplace as well as pushing research and development forward as intensely as possible.

You can’t afford to assume that you’re ready for a challenge. Most of the streaming services assumed that they would be ready for the Game of Thrones season premiere. In fact, many of them may not have thought about the increased demand at all–a lack of forethought that proved catastrophic for many businesses. It’s critical for the continued expansion of your business that you think through potential challenges and test whether or not your company is able to meet them before they become an issue.

Learning to Innovate and Improve Technology

If your business has lagged behind the standards of innovation offered by others in your industry, there’s good news: you can change the way you do business to embrace innovation and keep your business at the forefront of your industry. You need to change the standards of technology at your business: “good enough” won’t do the job anymore. When even the latest technology being employed by companies like Foxtel Now, which had recently undergone a period of innovation and change, isn’t enough to keep up with consumer demand, you have to train your employees to think outside the box and push forward the innovation process in order to provide the best possible service to your customers.

Move resources toward innovation. Innovation doesn’t just require a willingness to think outside the box. It also requires resources. You need time, people, and materials as well as the funds to push forward with innovation. If your company genuinely wants to embrace innovation, it’s critical that your employees have the resources they need in order to succeed.

Offer opportunities that will help employees expand their knowledge and understanding. Instead of assigning projects based on availability, take the time to think through who in the company is best suited to a particular project. This might include questions like:

  • Who specializes in this area?
  • What team members work well together?
  • Who will be challenged by this project?

Learn more about the technology you’re using on a daily basis. In many cases, people within your organisation might not have as deep an understanding of the technology you’re using as they will need to improve it. An attitude of constant learning will help push employees to advance themselves, which will, in turn, advance the company. Provide training in areas that will help employees on the job. Give them opportunities to improve themselves, and you will develop more effective employees who are better able to ensure that your business can meet the changing technology needs of your industry.

Make it safe to experiment. It’s easy to allow innovation as long as everything is going your way. It’s when ideas fail, however, that you’ll learn just how deep your commitment to innovation really is. Safe experimentation means that employees can try out their ideas without having to worry that they’ll be penalised for failure. That doesn’t mean that you have to move forward with every idea. It does mean that when you take the best idea and try it out, employees aren’t penalised if it doesn’t succeed. Failure is simply an opportunity to learn more on the path to success–and companies who are committed to effective innovation embrace that part of the process.

Create an innovation strategy. You can’t simply tell your employees that you’d like them to attempt innovation. Instead, create a solid innovation strategy. Include the people who are responsible for these innovations, the budget and materials that are available, and the process for proposing new ideas. Your innovation strategy should also include the projects or technologies that are the focal point of your business. Think about what you want to be recognised for, what is most important to your company, or how your company is different from your competitors, then make that the focus of your innovation strategy.

The Game of Thrones season premiere brought to light a simple fact that many industries have been aware of for too long: technology is lagging behind the demands of the people. If you want to start creating more effective technology for your company, your industry, and your world, creating an effective innovation culture is critical. Contact us today to learn more about the benefits of innovation culture and how it can change your industry for the better.

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