Can a High-Tech Breakthrough Approach Deliver Novel Supply and Demand Solutions? A Study of Digital Cinema Rollout.
Digitalization is the process of making digital everything that can be digitised to change a business model and provide new revenue and value-‐producing opportunities. However, difficulties exist in evaluating the value created by digital technology investments in organisations, industry structures, economies and society, at large. My dissertation illustrates how the distinct characteristics of digital technologies are implicit in an evolution from stable to fragile product innovation; while highlighting the need for a dynamic approach to entrepreneurial innovation within national innovation systems. The foundations for my work are bound up in the digitalization of value networks, and the context for this research is digital cinema – a process that began in 2000. Digital cinema offered a new value proposition to distributors and significant cost reductions for the US studios. With a reliance on a highly developed value chain to protect intellectual property, these studios sought to learn from the disruption digitalization caused to the music industry, by cultivating digital technology as an, incremental innovation, in replacing celluloid with bytes to project content to cinema audiences. Global digital cinema penetration in 2014 stood at 90 per cent of the total screen footprint. The dissertation assesses features of this digital rollout that have been under-‐ explored; including the role digital technology has assumed in process and product innovation; and, the behavioural responses of both incumbents and new entrants during the diffusion and adoption phase. My dissertation is supported by eight published papers, which highlight the need for domestic policymakers to focus their attention on emerging entrepreneurial innovations; the utilisation of current knowledge and strategies for novel solutions in order to strengthen their respective national innovation systems. Taken together they help explain the creation, diffusion and adoption of digital cinema, explore the new content creation opportunities they support, and explain how three nations in particular have sought to innovate and reorientate themselves in relation to these novel phenomena. The wider implications of the findings of the project build on the innovation literature in examining the diffusion, adoption and knowledge acquisition during the rollout of digital cinema technology. These findings suggest a radically different reading of both disruptive innovations and national innovation systems than has been offered in previous accounts, viewing the digital cinema rollout as a case study of an increasingly mobile sector, in which technological factors retreat in importance behind entrepreneurial innovation as a key driving force in reaching audiences. Finally, in exploring the phenomenon of the digitalization of value networks I have made a significant contribution to knowledge in the design of an innovative mixed method; specifically in the area of field research -‐ a qualitative data collection method designed for considering, observing, and interacting with individuals in their natural environments. Over time, I have established that digital cinema was capable of delivering novel supply and demand solutions -‐ starting with a few unrelated scraps of data, through the establishment of personal networks with communities of practice (in the UK, US & Norway) to building rich, and complex quantitative data sets capable of measuring the entire diffusion and adoption phase of the digital cinema rollout, right across Europe.