How Ticketmaster Has Fought Resale Marketplaces by Disrupting Itself

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If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. That’s the lesson Ticketmaster learned from its own journey through digital disruption, according to Jared Smith, president of Ticketmaster North America. At the Forrester eBusiness Forum November 6, Smith discussed how Ticketmaster has responded to the threat of the ticket resale market by launching its own online marketplace — a gutsy move that has increased sales and improved customer service for the ticket retailer.

Smith said that Ticketmaster is in an unusual position: “we are blessed to be in a business where people stalk our product.” Bruno Mars fans want to know where Bruno Mars will appear and how much it costs to see him even if they don’t end up going to one of his concerts, and they actively use digital to follow his appearances. Ticketmaster customers are passionate. They are driven. They are also frustrated when they can’t get access to their product — and they’ll willingly go to your competitor if you can’t give them that access via an affordable ticket.

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As Smith noted, 90 percent of Ticketmaster’s business comes from online and mobile sales — and in the digital world, it’s far too easy for fans to go elsewhere if you don’t give them what they want, a reality that spurred Ticketmaster to change the way it does business. In the 2000s, ticket resellers like StubHub emerged to threaten Ticketmaster by taking advantage of the ease with which Continue reading

Smart data: business lessons from the Battle of Midway

I’ll take smart data over big data anytime. Smart data is all about interpreting data to make a wise decision, whether you’re trying to understand your customers or attempting to outsmart your competition. Seventy years ago, the U.S. Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy gave the world a dramatic demonstration of smart data in action during the Battle of Midway. The decisive and important naval victory for the United States still teaches lessons today about making wise choices with information.

As recounted in the recently published book Inferno: The World at War, 1939-1945, by Max Hastings, the battle of Midway unfolded June 4-7, 1942, near the Midway atoll. The Japanese forces, led by Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, conceived of the assault in order to achieve a knockout blow against the U.S. Navy — which was reeling only six months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and military setbacks shortly thereafter.  But the U.S. forces, led by Admiral Chester M. Nimitz, held a distinct advantage: its codebreakers had broken the JN-25 code used by Japanese forces to communicate with each other. The U.S. knew where the Japanese were going to strike and used that information to repulse the attack. But of course breaking the code in and of itself did not guarantee victory. The deciding factors were:

1. A bold decision

Breaking the code meant that the Americans expected Midway to be the target – but even still, no one knew for sure. Someone had to decide whether to place faith in the accuracy of the intelligence uncovered by U.S. Commander Joseph Rochefort – at a time when intelligence gathering was an inexact science at best. Writes Hastings: “[E]xactitude of knowledge was still lacking. In a vast ocean, it remained hard to pinpoint ships, or even fleets . . . despite Commander Rochefort’s magnificent achievement, uncertainty and chance characterized Midway.”

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