Dr Pius Onobhayedo from the School of Media and Communication, Science and Technology at the Pan-Atlantic University of Lagos, said it was essential for the media to adopt the right corporate governance strategy to remain relevant in today’s disruptive world.
Speaking at the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) workshop in Lagos recently, he noted that the importance of good corporate governance could not be overstated.
With the theme: “Journalism and Digitization: The Imperative of Good Corporate Governance,” he said media outlets that have ignored good corporate governance should prepare to face collapse sooner rather than later. possible.
He cited US cable TV operator, Adelphia, which was forced into bankruptcy in 2002 and its controlling family expelled from the company following the disclosure of questionable financial dealings between the company and family members.
He also referenced Time Warner in 2004 agreeing to pay $510 million in fines to settle securities fraud charges involving accounting irregularities.
According to him, “In November 2001, Enron Corporation admitted that it had inflated its revenues by approximately $586 million since 1997. In December of the same year, Enron filed for bankruptcy and its stock closed at 0.26 $ (against $90.56 in 2000). ). In the face of such a mega-scandal among others, discussions about the need for good corporate governance have become particularly important globally.
He argued that the effectiveness of corporate governance should be questioned in the context of the digital age.
Today, he said, it is clear that many of the most successful companies in the world operate as digital platforms. The term digital platforms, he explained, refers to a type of platform that serves as a standardized digital interface and uses digital technologies to facilitate interactions between different parties.
He added that digital consumers are not only empowered to benefit from the convergence of devices and formats, they even want to have a say in the innovation roadmap of organizations.
For him, “customers seem to quickly sense the possibilities offered by technological advances and want to take advantage of them”.
He noted that businesses are taking advantage of the convergence of digital media, which has led to an increase in the number of platforms that regularly disrupt multiple industries, including media, retail, hotels, taxis and others. and aggressively branching out into new sectors, such as financial services.
Defining corporate governance as the way organizations are run and managed, he underscored the need for the media, among other things, to learn from the big, innovative technology companies that have risen to the top of the rankings among the fastest growing companies. capitalized in the world.
He identified tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. Common to these companies that are digital convergence services, he argued, is the understanding that the digital customer is increasingly empowered to be a “prosumer” (producer-consumer) and that this empowerment influences largely the rules of engagement.
How to achieve “good” corporate governance? Onobhayedo said a governance approach that simply equates “good” with “maximizing shareholder returns” could lead to an operational tension between the need to foster innovation and the need to generate quick returns.
He also advocated a shift in mindset from classic “corporate governance” to “platform governance”.
This mentality, he explained, is very appropriate for today’s media organizations, which increasingly face competition, not only between themselves, but also between other “media companies”. platforms” that persist in eating away at the value chain of media organizations.
He added that there is a very thin line in the digital world between service organizations that have the flow of digital information as their currency between content producers and content consumers.
Onobhayedo, however, advised media companies to focus on a governance strategy that concerns itself with how companies might organize themselves now to succeed tomorrow. What they should do now to innovate and continue to succeed in the future; what kind of structures, practices and processes will best equip the company to continually reinvent itself, its products and its services; and how they can take advantage of new digital technologies to maximize their performance and capacity for innovation.
He noted that these concerns could hardly be addressed strategically without the required knowledge or skills at the board level, where corporate strategy is set.
In addition, he said, the regulator also needed to be mindful of these concerns and the need to give administrators enough breathing space to operate with the innovative agility required.
Further, he suggested to the media and to all companies, to reinvent themselves as platforms. By operating as platforms, he said many companies hope to build their capacity for disruptive innovation and ensure they remain relevant. He added that established and “traditional” businesses also need to undergo this transformation.
With the foundation on the blockchain, which in turn is founded on a peer-to-peer architecture that overlays the internet, he said the world is entering a phase in which the user as an infrastructure provider on the network peer-to-peer, could be more closely associated with the service providers of their choice.
He added that users would likely experience stronger transaction-driven engagement, thanks to tokens issued by Decentralized Application Providers (DApps) that run on the blockchain.
According to him, “these realities could have a significant influence on the nature of governance in response to user demands. It is therefore not surprising that the concept of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) has quickly emerged alongside DApps.
In conclusion, he said, “My prediction is that DAOs will become more appealing to users as technology innovators simplify the integration steps. Media should expect significant disruption in how content users consume content, how they interact, and how users interact with their favorite organizations.