Subscription Innovation

The best e-business models are those that require the least resources, the lowest investment and costs, the least risks and ultimately high demand, revenue and profit potential. As someone who has developed both digital and physical products and services, scoped and implemented the systems to sell and deliver them, and the strategies to market those products and services, I’ve become a strong advocate of subscription services. They are a sensible choice for both profitable and speedy innovation, for those with resources and know-how. There are a number of revenue models for different types of online subscriptions for businesses and entrepreneurs to explore. Intelligent models also look at strategic partnerships to diminish the burden on consumers and business customers juggling multiple subscription accounts, purchasing and login credentials. (Extract Top 5 Digital World Predictions 2021)

In the final edition of my annual ‘E-Business Predictions’ in 2018, I proposed ‘Subscription Services Joining Forces’, and advised streaming platforms to offer a single sign-on facility for customers among subscription service partnerships. In 2020, with the exponential growth in subscribers and content demand, the economic climate was highly favourable to media platforms providing video, music, media and TV on-demand toentertain and educate consumers, who were spending away from more costly purchases. Music streaming platforms such as Spotify (with 113-million subscribers and 248-million users in 79 markets), had new rivals such as Boomplay (with 44-million subscribers and 217-million active users), and promise to dominate the African market. It’s no secret that giants like Netflix, Disney and Amazon moved into and booked out significant studio space in the UK in 2019, where there are attractive tax incentives for British investment in production. Growth trends and consumption recorded to end of 2019 for online media were at a rate of around 25% across the board. I advised in my Top 5 Digital World Predictions 2020 that “Content quality, sales and delivery to consumers in an ever competing market, should be at the heart strategy for media organisations in 2020 and beyond. This significant growth may trigger further regulation around the globe from government and industry bodies.”

Whatever the digital business model, there are considerable opportunities for innovation which must be customer-centric and focus on value as well as efficiency and profitability.

About the Author

Deborah Collier has developed strategies for digital downloadable, streaming and subscription content for 20-years. These include e-books, membership subscriptions, music downloads and online courses. Her most recent success is the digital transformation of classroom education – the productization and monetization of valuable content into over 45-hours of online interactive audio, video, animation content within 7-months, and the delivery through a branded e-commerce enabled online platform at Digital Skills Authority.

Deborah is founder and president at the Digital Skills Authority, Group CEO of a media group and Executive Producer for three high-end TV / Film projects.


Winning Combination for Healthcare, Retail and Beyond – Internet-of-Things, 5G and Artificial Intelligence

‘Internet-of-Things’ (IoT), 5G and artificial intelligence will unite to revolutionize automation.  Industry anticipates that around 1-trillion IoT sensors will be placed globally by 2022. These will be employed in clothing and other apparel, household appliances and office, professional and personal devices, for example.  5G provides high-speed, while artificial intelligence (intelligent software programs) uses the data provided by the sensors to make informed and calculated decisions.  AI will decide what to do with data, such as providing scientific analysis to universities or manufacturers about ‘wear and tear’ and product demand, for example.  It can make intelligent buying decisions linked to e-commerce and throughout the supply chain to delivery.  One example is replenishing the contents of a fridge. Sensors in the fridge order to grocery retailers through e-commerce, based on learned buying behaviour, but with the ability to have human buyer intervention, as required.  In a professional setting, healthcare providers can reduce workload, improve efficiency, reduce costs and reduce errors, during the pandemic and beyond by employing these technologies together.  A pharmacy restocking medicines, hospitals and medical centres replenishing medical supplies are two functions I suggest would benefit from this winning technological combination.

Extract: Top 5 Digital World Predictions 2021

About the Author

Strategic & Futurist Leader Deborah Collier is also the founder and leader of the Digital Skills Authority. She was affectionately given the name ‘Half-Geek Half-Human’ by one of her peers in 2010 due to her passion for what technology can do for humanity.


How to Influence Ethical Change

The key to successfully influencing ethical change in an organisation, or indeed in the way a nation is led, is to get to the impact or pain to the organisation, nation or government. The approach should include a clearly thought out argument coupled with one or more constructive solutions. Working with, rather than against is usually the best first option.

One of the lessons I learned from working for a large global corporate many years ago, was that to drive change, particularly if that was costly, we’d have to build a case that action was required to prevent financial loss to the organisation. This particular story is about accessibility and the Internet. An organisation, which then had over 120,000 employees worldwide, an internal portal for those employees and multiple web sites, was not accessible to those with disabilities (for example those needing larger text). Like the others in the team (the geeks and the marketers), I raised the issue of ethics and reputation. I was told “We know, we’ve tried to make change, but the business will not do it, unless there is a legal reason”. I persevered and found the legislation online which applied significantly to larger organisations, but was rebuffed “Yes but no organisation has been sued” was the reply.  I didn’t give up and found a case won against the Olympic Games for a non-accessible web site. I cited the case to the Director of Risk, which initiated a worldwide accessibility project costing over £1-million to implement. The sad but practical lesson – Money, not ethics talks.

So what can we learn? The humanity case, the ethics case – these are all positive, but we need to get to the financial impact, which is often due to loss of reputation, and in particular loss of audience. When asked by Krishnan Guru-Murphy during an interview on Channel 4 News, about the social networks decision to remove accounts and content, the need for regulation of content and the tech and social media giants, I said, “If they are seen to be allowing such content that hurts others, then that’s not good for their reputation”.  I was referring to online harms such as disinformation, inciting violence and hate speech such as racism.

Loss of audience is also about changing humanity, educating and nurturing a culture of compassion and strong morals. Strategically and morally, if we focus on these areas, raise awareness about harms and risk to human life of bullying and fake news, we can then collectively and collaboratively enable both media and social networks to support positive journalistic and user-generated content.

As always, policies within organisations for ethical information and handling of user-generated content in their forums and on their platforms, should form part of content and information strategy, and consider legal, financial and reputation risks, as well as branding, audience and objectives.

Social networks are struggling and striving with the volume of harmful user-generated content on their platforms, with billions of items of content removed or flagged with a fact check. Algorithms and artificial intelligence combined with human intervention are constantly improving to take on this bold task, and while it appears that the social networks needed either a push or the support of it’s advertisers and governments, they are tackling the mammoth task head-on. The burden will ease alongside a cultural shift in what the general public views as acceptable and with society cultivating a positive atmosphere and dialogues both on and off-line.

Includes extract from Deborah’s February 2020 Linked article ‘How to Drive Change when Companies Won’t Respond to the Ethics Argument’.

About the Author

Futurist and Digital Philosopher, Deborah Collier is an influential figure who has worked in digital, business and marketing with a heavy footprint in the knowledge economy – education, media and publishing for 20-years. She has been heavily active on social media studying the impacts and interplay between digital, data, social networks and humanity, defining a concept she called the ‘Content Social Symbiosis’. A business and educational leader, she has written and talked about Conscious business as well as social media’s benefits and risks to humanity since 2009. She has woven ‘Digital Ethics‘ into both her role at the Digital Skills Authority and it’s management and leadership programs with a global ‘Digital Governance Framework’. She has also supported vital initiatives to combat online harms such as child grooming, as seen in NSPCC’s Wild West Web Campaign.

Of additional interest
Why are National Change Management Strategies are Vital Right Now?


Import Export Bureaucracy – High-Speed Systems Enhancements

As a Briton and proud European born in the early 70’s, I’ve enjoyed the multi-culturalism of being part of a very colourful European Union, both linguistically and culturally. There were no grey areas. Everything was clear, from travel, to laws and trade. Brexit was painful for many of us, as was the impact of the economic stability leading up to that time. I personally suffered an immediate impact on a B2B business I had launched. What we offered suddenly became a luxury, rather than a necessity. Indeed any company or individual attempting to procure even $5000 of business from a blue-chip organisation struggled. That impacted livelihoods, employment and also family relationships. Losses became emotional ones.

Yet here we are now. Brexit is done, and the impacts are appearing in evidence, yet to be weighed, with more hopeful negotiation to follow. The below extract focused on the immediate impact of imports and exports from my Top 5 World Predictions 2021 published in December, aims to offer some warning, but also solutions.

Brexit may have offered certainty with regards to trade tariffs, but it will, in the near term, cause an additional headache as a result of bureaucracy, for both importers and exporters to and from the EU, as well as outside. Import and export specialist software developers will need to upgrade their systems at stealth speed. Many had already completed some work in preparation for the final December 2020 result, but did not have 100% clarity. In the interim, we are informed by specialist software and solution providers with an objective of fully automated solutions, that the Brexit deal will put an addition burden of up to 10% more workload on importers and exporters with regards to declarations.  Hopefully, governments will provide the necessary support, as well as lenience with regards to any errors posed by the challenges. This may require further staff recruitment in customs and excise departments, as well as port and border officials, thus generating new jobs for those made unemployed by the pandemic.

About the Author

Strategic educational and business leader, Deborah Collier is founder of the Digital Skills Authority. During her earlier career she implemented e-commerce, developed and traded goods and services online, developed and advised on strategy for e-commerce business, and created and delivered management and leadership certifications in Internet retailing to well-known retailers and leading organisations around the globe.


Race for the Quantum Internet

In 2021, the race for the ‘Quantum Internet’ ignites. In 2020 NASA scientists had a major breakthrough in the transference of data known as ‘Long Distance Quantum Teleportation’.  According to reports, they managed to place data 27-miles away, without any flow of the data in between the start point and the destination.  The ‘Quantum Internet’ is now a future reality rather than a possibility. The future Internet will deliver not only instantaneity but an advanced cybersecurity called ‘Quantum Key Distribution’, without the need for encryption, and any hackers leaving a provable trace, making it secure far beyond the realms of today’s Internet and cybersecurity standards. 

For citizens, as well as organizations, it provides confidence, but also the opportunity to deliver multi-dimensional media including virtual world content in high-volumes to global audiences without interference or security hindrance. In short, while the Quantum Internet may take some years to arrive, the opportunities will be endless.

Extract: Digital World Predictions 2021

About the Author
Strategy leader and expert in digital, Deborah Collier is the founder of the Digital Skills Authority.


2021 Bridge of Hope

In my annual Top 5 Digital World Predictions for 2021, I wanted to provide both solutions and hope to readers, for those looking for opportunities, and those concerned about their future. In many circles in academia, government, some media and business, it is common knowledge that the Coronavirus threat is not expected to pass until 2022, unless there is a radical shift. During this tough year ahead while collectively we manage health, individual and global economies, my concern is employment generation, household incomes and the welfare of others during the crisis.

‘The Bridge of Hope’ must be carefully and strategically planned, with every opportunity to secure a safe, healthy, happy and prosperous future for all.  Coronavirus has forced a global reset, regardless of whether many businesses were in dire need of a relaunch – a reboot ensuing from unfavourable economic events since 2008. Whatever our actions, it is imperative that we address not only businesses, wealth and prosperity, but the employment and support of our fellow human-beings.  We will have some turmoil ahead, but ultimately the future can be bright.

Extract: Digital World Predictions 2021

About the Author
Deborah is a globally-renowned futurist, strategy expert and founder of the Digital Skills Authority.


Why National Change Management Strategies are Vital Right Now?

The globe and it’s countries of people are going through a significant change economically, technologically, culturally and socially. Strategies to protect lives, livelihoods and the economy are at the forefront, while harnessing and capitalising on technological opportunity take prominant place in both business and government. Global strategy is interlinked with national and regional strategies, and are largely dependent on the unique culture and running of services and business in each country.

As a result of Coronavirus, humanity has been forced into a seismic shift in the way we do things and how we interact with eachother. ‘Change management strategy’ involves not only the processes, but the management of both business and governmental relationships with the people, during highly turbulent economic, medical and environmental times. Effective communications are at the heart of navigating through successful change. Capabilities and finance are a large barrier, but the general public could be the biggest barrier to change. Ensuring the people are on-side takes significant trust building and breaking down emotional barriers. People dislike change that impacts their way of life, particularly in ways we do not accept, and in general we will not follow leadership if and when trust is broken. Education and the media are a vital element in keeping the public informed, but also supporting us through that complex, and emotionally challenging super change. Social media monitoring, listening and responding both compassionately and practically is critical, as is collaboration. Using my own nation the United Kingdom as an example, this is certainly the most challenging time we’ve had since World War II. We thought the transition through Brexit and the impact those years have had on employment and businesses, was bad enough. I’d like to know, where is and who is leading our change management strategy, and is it robust enough to lead us through this crisis, and the long-term changes we may have to consider?

About the Author
Deborah Collier is a business and educational leader globally renowned for strategy, with specialisms in digital business, digital and humanity, information, education and marketing. Change management strategy is a vital ingredient in organisational leadership and transformation – digital transformation or otherwise.

Of further interest
How to Influence Ethical Change
Trust versus Incentives


Digital Ethics – How Can We Balance Humanity with Innovation?

Digital ethics is coming of age. The rise in social media conversation, user-generated content and use of mobile devices, coupled with our growing interaction with digital and artificial intelligence, means that as individuals we are creating an extension of ourselves and a ‘digital identity’. As we become more ‘digitally human’, protection and privacy of our digital selves is becoming ever-more critical. As digital business and automation continue to grow, with more tasks occupied by Artificial Intelligence, the question of ethics regarding innovation versus both employment and human behaviour, come to the forefront. However, digital business frees up individuals to perform more managerial, creative and innovation roles. In 2020 and beyond, I predict a significant shift in employment and skills needs. Both organisations and individuals must ensure that they have the right skills, education, experience, culture and environment to fulfil these changing needs. Environment and the planet is also of growing importance to humanity, and as such, while automation and digital reduce paper usage and deforestation, electricity production and energy sources to run technology and server farms, should continue to come from ‘green’ power production such as solar and wind power.

Excerpt from Deborah’s ‘Top 5 2020 Digital World Predictions‘ published in January 2020

About the Author

Deborah is President at Digital Skills Authority, and has worked in the field of digital business, publishing and media for the last 20-years. She champions ethics in digital business and innovation.


Coronavirus Challenges & Opportunities in Education

Coronavirus has had a huge impact both negatively and positively as a result of Coronavirus. From CEO’s, professors and teachers concerned about the welfare of their staff and students, to business and organizational leaders concerned about meeting educational objectives, the facilitation of exams, security of content, operational challenges and impact on costs and income.

Facilitating Learning

Facilitating learning, when students and pupils cannot attend a classroom, due to either travel restrictions and risks or building closures, means that education has to be transferred to online – either through live online classrooms, or through e-learning.  There are a number of challenges with online classrooms and e-learning:-

  • Technology and accessibility
  • Delivery of quality learning and student engagement (is more challenging online)
  • Protection of content intellectual property
  • The speed required to transcend classroom learning to online

In the case of classroom attendance, maintaining student and staff safety with physical distancing is very challenging, and means that there is less room in a lecture theatre or classroom for students to attend.  University professors are reporting as much as a five-fold increase in volume of work, due to having to repeat classroom seminars as much as five times for one class.  In addition, they are reporting cost-cutting and pay cuts. 


How can educational institutions facilitate examinations during lockdown, with social distancing, or when travel restrictions are in place?

  • E-Learning often offers short multiple-choice questionnaires, but there is no way of verifying that the person taking the exam is the person being issued with the award
  • Live Online Exams (Secure exam systems with a live invigilator) as offered by the Digital Skills Authority, is one option but is dependent on a number of things.
    • Speed of implementation, testing and learning – Implementing exams and learning, and strategy for how to use the systems can take several weeks, if not months to complete
    • A qualified and well-trained network of exam invigilators
    • Speedy and reliable technology and Internet for all students (to take the exam)
    • The ability to handle case study exams, which may include drawing and writing
  • Classroom exams require further space for exam invigilation due to distancing, and there is an additional need for hand-washing and protection when touching exam materials and interacting with students.

Enabling Qualifications for Schools, Colleges and Universities

The United Kingdom’s solution for students is to issue qualifications based on predicted grades.  However, conversations with academia indicate that the predicted grades are actually a significant percentage lower than they would expect a student to eventually gain.  This means, that some students are missing out on a realistic grade. Additionally, this process does not account for those who may have had challenging times at home, impacting their predicted grade, who may actually succeed in an exam due to additional input and hard work.  It does however help those who perform well during class, but suffer from exam stress.  Stress and uncertainty about the future have impacted everyone, and would no doubt impact exam study and results, as well as potentially university dissertations. University professors have reported dissertations with multiple repeat paragraphs in their papers – stress or attempting to reach a word count? Whatever the case, their performance is impacted.

From a human and human development perspective, I would consider postponing all exams for one year and developing an alternative solution for the break year – one that provides value to students and ensures they remain engaged. As an interim, students, employees and job seekers can focus on shorter remote learning certification exams, if they feel able to.


E-Learning and virtual learning is nothing new, but Coronavirus has highlighted the absolute necessity for there to be a mix of learning channels, whether this be through live webinar, virtual classrooms, interactive e-learning or recorded video.   Digital learning takes time to implement. Two established 5-day certifications took almost one year to convert to online, and were enabled by excellent knowledge of technology, digital online engagement traditional educational experience, as well as significant careful planning and testing.   The beauty of digital content is that educators can reach a wider audience.  Institutions have the choice of offering live tutor interaction or simply an automated self-service option. Both choices are normally reflective in the pricing. There is a significant difference in pricing between online and classroom learning, which is driven by the value and experience of personal one-to-one attention or consultative nature of a classroom course, versus e-learning.  Pricing is also impacted by student affordability as well as competition.  An optimal pricing strategy is key and must be measured against both costs to build, deliver and maintain the programs, as well as user demand.  Brand trust and educator credibility can elevate pricing, however it is both reputation and impact that count for students, whether that is know-how, the certification or both. The potential to reach a far wider audience through online education makes digital education an attractive option for expanding the reach and impact of the information and skills organisations provide, as well as increasing revenues and profit. As always there is a balance that needs to be achieved – that is offering high-impacting educational content and mechanisms, without devaluing the education delivered.

About the Author

Deborah Collier is President & Chief Information Marketing Officer at the Digital Skills Authority. She is also on the board of Directors of a leading UK government backed education management organisation.


Rise of the Digital Human

Looking to the future, we should investigate possibility and question the impossibility.

Digital brings both amazing opportunities and risk to humanity, which need to be carefully managed.  Humanity is evolving as we become more and more ‘digitally human’. What will the attributes of a typical human being be in 2030?  With digital progressing at such a rapid rate, the impact on social, economic, lifestyle, health and other aspects of human-beings is evolving too.  We are on a superhighway and must remain agile. In order to innovate for the future, we need to understand the lifestyles, opportunities, challenges, desires, needs and circumstances of people in 2030.  This requires understanding of several different disciplines, a look into how digital and other technological advancement will transform progress in key areas such social, medical, retail, employment, political and the workplace, for example.

Collaboratively strategic and innovative thinkers, as well as subject matter experts can create profiles or a group of profiles of the typical human-being in 2030.  Through this understanding of human beings, innovators and organisations, can align their roadmap to fit their audience early. In doing so, they can align their business, services and products, and the marketing, communication and delivery of their products and services to fit the needs of their audience.  Lessons learned from history, are great at helping us to ensure we avoid future mistakes, and thankfully we are in an information era, where we have a catalogue of knowledge and experience at our fingertips.  Looking to the future, we should investigate possibility and question the impossibility. However, in order to steer our journey in the right direction, we must have a vision of where we are heading or where we would ideally like to be in both the near and long-term future.

About the Author

Deborah Collier, strategic educational and business leader, has worked with, implemented, researched,  developed strategies, advised and written about digital for 20-years. She has been heavily active on social media, and defined a concept she named the “Content Social Symbiosis” which also features in the courses she and her teams developed over the years. President, Founder at Digital Skills Authority, Deborah is a global keynote speaker, futurist leader and digital philosopher, and has investigated, spoken publicly and taught others about Digital Ethics – in particular digital’s impact on humanity.