MAD Perspectives Blog

Media. An Industry Drowning in Data

Peggy Dau - Thursday, September 19, 2013

I've just returned from the International Broadcaster Convention in Amsterdam. This event serves the community of professionals creating, managing and delivering entertainment and news content around the globe. Like other industries, broadcast and media companies are talking about big data. And, like other industries they are figuring out what big data means for them. Data serves a variety of purposes in this industry. There is data everywhere - it describes content, subscribers create it, technologies generate it, store it and analyze it. But who or what recommends what to do with it?

As i spoke with vendors and consultants, the topic of big data arose many times. Everyone agreed that the term "big data" was overused due to its adoption by just about every vendor. But big data does not mean the same thing to everyone. For content creators, its about associating the right metadata to ensure efficient workflow, editing, distribution and monetization. For storage companies it is about their ability to physically store both data and content efficiently and effectively, which means they must implement and provide storage management solutions. TV service providers and OTT vendors use data to enable content discovery and to exploit the needs of their subscribers. Advertisers depend on it when making media buys. The Second Screen is providing real-time audience data that is driving ratings and extending the story arc. These are just a few examples of data use within the industry - there are many, many more. 

With these examples in mind, it is evident that big data is a big deal for media and entertainment. There are many tools and platforms to capture and analyze the data. The challenge remains in how to use the data to initiate actions that benefit the organization. A key element of data capture is understanding why the data is needed. This can help in the filtering and analysis of data from one or many sources. Once the data has been aggregated the challenge is to interpret or translate the data into defined actions. Of course, those actions should be aligned with the original intent in collecting the data.

How is your organization using all the data it is collecting? Has it helped you identify new business opportunities? Or has it revealed new product innovation? How about subscriber insight for developing new content (think Netflix!)? Data is a source of validation, discovery, insight and most importantly, competitive differentiation. Consider your goals and then think about what big data can do to help you achieve them. It requires more than tools to collect it, or store it, or analyze it, or report it. It is criitical to define purpose of the data, collect the right data and translate that data into a tactical set of actions to achieve the goal. 

Don't drown in all the data! 

What's your perspective?

A Facelift is Not Enough

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 15, 2013

The National Association of Broadcast convention was last week in Las Vegas. I've been attending this event for over 10 years, always viewing this industry from an IT perspective. This is natural given that I was working for HP when I first attended the event. The broadcast industry is perhaps the last industry to fully embrace IT based solutions to enable its core infrastructure. This is an industry of proprietary, purpose built products that manage the capture, ingest, management and distribution of content. Yet, the target audience consuming their product - content - has eagerly adopted alternative models for consumption, putting the broadcast industry (and all the vendors who serve it) on notice.

I was speaking with a colleague while waiting for my plane home. He had not been to NAB for a few years and commented on how little had really changed. Sure, this year there were many demos around Ultra HD. Sure, this industry is shifting certain aspects of its workflow into the cloud (in fact, they've been a bit slower than other industries due to concerns about the security of content). And, yes, social media is definitely changing the face of broadcast. But my colleague was right - there wasn't anything that really WOWED me. However there were some subtleties that I found interesting.

The first was simply in how several traditional vendors sought to "re-brand" themselves. An article in Broadcast Engineering, last week, challenged traditional vendors to "adapt or die". Many of the vendors referenced in this article, Grass Valley, Harris, EVS, Snell & Wilcox, Sony, Quantel, are those whose exhibits reflected a face lift. Grass Valley, always front and center in the South Hall, has moved away from the traditional black booth highlighted in green to a white and green facade. However, this cosmetic shift does not change the fact the Grass Valley still makes kick-ass proprietary products. These products serve important functions within broadcast environments, but with the exception of GV Stratus and Edius, they are proprietary and purpose built hardware products. They lack the flexibility to enable broadcasters to extend their reach to online or mobile audiences. 

Other vendors are emphasizing their ability to fulfill on-demand, online content distribution through the use of the "play" button in their marketing. They've adopted lighter, brighter booths implying the openness of the internet versus the dark production environment of broadcast studios. Yet, the proof is in the flexibility and adaptability of products and solutions, not in the marketing.

The challenge facing the industry is how to remain relevant in a world with a 24x7 news cycle, on-demand content expectations and uncertainty as to how revenue models will evolve. It takes more than a face lift to address these issues. Solutions from Forbidden Technologies, Kit Digital, Microsoft, Harmonic  and other more IT centric vendors show the flexibilities that will help broadcasters move forward. Traditional graphics vendors like Vizrt and Chyron, while facing their own challenges, are reflecting their appreciation of audience demand by expanding their partnerships to include social TV and social media technologies.  

Upcoming blogs will focus on the impact of cloud, social and mobile apps on this industry that, honestly, we cannot live without.

What's your perspective?

Cloudy Days Ahead for Broadcasters?

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, May 02, 2012

One of my current clients is in the broadcast space.  As a result, i've been paying a lot of attention to the technology shifts in this space. The two hottest technology topics being discussed online, and just about anyplace else, will impact this industry dramatically.  These topics are:  Tablets and Cloud.

You're not surprised, right? Apple's iPad has changed the way we consume content until the next great innovation comes along. We watch TV with our iPads in hand, reviewing news, checking our Facebook accounts, sending email or watching complementary content to that which is on our TV screens. Just about every broadcast network has an iPad app (or, at least has one in development). Getting content to the iPad requires some effort behind the scenes It is expected that the content will be a combination of video and text; that it will enable some level of interactive; and that its design will be extremely user friendly and enticing.  However, the broadcaster must now produce content in formats useable on the iPad. This requires editing transcoding, distributing and delivering the content itself. These are familiar tasks for any broadcaster, but it adds to the already heavy workloads of the personnel responsible for preparing and managing that content.

At the recent NAB conference, multi-channel content delivery was front and center for many vendors.  This is a primary investment area for all broadcasters.  The challenge is how will they integrate tablet content preparation into their existing workflows. Will they create separate a "tablet" team to edit and adapt content for the end device? Or will they partner with other vendors who will manage this challenge for them.  This introduces the other hot topic - cloud.

To a certain extent, content delivery has been in the cloud for ages. The original content delivery networks provided the infrastructure and network resources to internet companies to enable the efficient delivery of their content to consumers. They invested in the technology (e.g., algorithms, edge cache servers, bandwidth, etc.) and created service level agreements with customers, who paid a fee based on the amount of content served or the bandwidth consumed.  

Today, additional tasks along the broadcast workflow can be performed in the cloud. CPU-intensive functions such as rendering and transcoding or content management challenges such as storage or metadata management are the already happening in the cloud. Across the board, every storage vendor at NAB was promoting its cloud capabilities.  Companies that could be considered pure product companies were introducing and showcasing their cloud storage capabilities.  Why is this of interest to broadcasters?  It converts capital expense to operating expense.  It provides centralized access to users, regardless of their location.  While the largest broadcasters may elect to build their own centralized archives, they may still choose to use cloud storage for disaster recovery.

Cloud computing provides broadcasters with investment alternatives. The challenge will be defining which functions can exist in the cloud, developing the relevant interfaces to access the functionality and integrating cloud services with in-house functions for a seamless workflow. NAB even had a Cloud Pavilion this year with companies offering video production in the cloud. Broadcasters, across the board, must find cost-effective, agile solutions to address internal and external pressures to produce meaningful content and deliver it to the consumer device of choice. Perhaps a cloudy day is just what they need.

What's your perspective? 

Social Media Disrupting Broadcast News?

Peggy Dau - Thursday, September 22, 2011

Social media has been at the forefront of many major events over the past few years. Flight 1549 landing on the Hudson River, the Arab uprisings this past spring, Hurricane Irene's path up the U.S. east coast are just a few. Some might argue that social media has displaced broadcast news as the primary source for immediate news.  They may be right, especially if thinking about the youth audience.  However, broadcast news is not in competition with social media, they are incorporating social media into all aspects of their operations.  The important factor for both social media outlets and broadcast news is that - news is immediate!

Newsrooms recognize this and are leveraging social media for news gathering, public opinion and new content.  Many newsrooms, such as the BBC, have implemented User Generated Content teams to monitor, validate and incorporate news generated on social sites to complement their broadcasts.  Differentiating between fact, fiction, rumor and speculation are the challenges of social news gathering.  (Just consider today's rumors about the potential replacement of HP CEO Leo Apotheker with HP Board Member and former EBay CEO) Meg Whitman.  Newsrooms around the globe are monitoring and listening to online and social news outlets not only to gather news, but to understand how their own news is being received and interpreted.  Social media can provide them with guidance on how to present news, while still maintaining journalistic integrity.

The other opportunity social media presents to broadcasters is the ability to distribute their content to a wider audience, that may not watch their scheduled broadcasts.  In fact, many premium news outlets, such as CNN or the BBC,  recognize the different characteristics of those watching their broadcasts vs. consuming news online vs. following them on Twitter or Facebook.  The ability to share news directly and indirectly (as happens in the social arena) provides news organizations with greater influence.  That influence comes with an ongoing responsibility for impartiality, truth in reporting and meaningful storytelling. 

News content will never go away.  News is now available via apps on your tablet on smartphone.  These devices will again create incremental impact in the presentation of news, if not the actual content.  News will continue to be immediate and relevant because of its immediacy.  News gathering organizations will not disappear as long as they continue to evolve and capitalize on the complementary nature of social and whatever comes next.

What's your perspective?

Is Video Social and do we need to Manage these Digital Assets?

Peggy Dau - Monday, January 11, 2010

In early December, I participated in a webinar hosted by North Plains.  The focus of the webinar was about video, social networking and digital asset management.  I want to thank Joshua, George and Robin at North Plains for inviting me to join a discussion that started with basic question.  Is Video Social?

There are two ways that we can interpret this question.  The first is that video tells a story.  The story can be a comedy, a drama, a sporting event, a news topic or a personal moment.  Regardless of the medium by which the video is viewed (TV, PC, cell phone), the story incites a response.  This is the social aspect of the video.  Back in the old days, we had informal chats in the coffee room or by the water cooler to laugh about the latest Seinfeld episode or to exault about the Yankees latest win.  Today, these thoughts and comments are posted and shared in online communities.  We share our stream of consciousness with our friends and colleagues, enjoying the socialization that evolves.

The other perspective is that unless the video is interactive (i.e., video conferencing) it is not inherently social.  Social implies a two way conversation with give and take between the parties.  However, this perspective is weak as their is not requirement for social networking to be accomplished in real-time.  Social discussion can take place over a period of minutes, hours and days.  So, we can agree that video is social.

If video is social, do we need to manage it as we manage our other video assets?  Up until now, Digital Asset Management (DAM) vendors have provided solutions to manage the process (aka workflow) surrounding the creation, storage, repurposing and distribution of Digital Media.  Digital Media is the assortment of photos, audio files, video clips, animations, computer graphics or banner ads created, owned or licensed by a company.  The uses of these assets may be for internal or external purposes. 

Up until now, most of the video addressed by DAM vendors was created by "professionals", meaning the studio, broadcaster, agency or enterprise itself for their purposes depending on their business model or business goals.  However, as video has become "social" it has become less professional and is created by individuals.  How does these businesses incorporate user generated or employee generated content into their DAM system?  The DAM is supposed to be the key to managing their digital assets.

In the end, it comes down to policy and governance.  As we move forward and the creation and capture of video becomes easier and less expensive, there will be increasing amounts of non-professional content used by businesses.  In fact, many are already inviting it (i.e., Doritos).  As companies move forward in using video to educate, entice, inform and entertain, they will need to consider guidelines about how the content will be used, who will see it, how it will be distributed, how and where it will be stored, how it will be consumed, etc.  These companies will need to establish guidelines and educate their content creators and digital asset managers on how to incorporate social video into their DAM systems.

So, yes video is social.  Video will become more casual just as social networking became a more informal method of communicating.  Check out further perpsectives from this North Plains webinar.

What's your perspective?

A New Buzz Word: Employee Generated Content (EGC)

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I learned a new buzz word this week:  EGC or Employee Generated Content.  while this term is new to me, it is not new to the industry pundits.  EGC is the ability to easily create and distribute content to members of your company without transferring large files via email or file storage.  Apparently this term has been bandied about for the past 2 or so years.  While all of us are very familiar with the term UGC or user generated content, primiarly due to the pervasiveness of YouTube, the discussion of enterprise related content, generated and "broadcast" by employees within the firewall, is still somewhat new.

Vendors such as Qumu are jumping on this bandwagon.  Recognizing that today's employees are familiar with the ability to upload video content to a video portal such as Youtube, means that companies need to start addresing the desire of employees to create and consume enterprise centric user generated content.  Imagine a content expert with the Flip or Kodak z18 mini camcorder, able to create high quality video explaining new technology, educating colleagues or demonstrating a new HR system.  Employee generated content can reduce production costs for enterprise business, attract innovative thinkers, create an alternate source for valuable content creation and increase employee participation in social collaboration, but it also creates new challenges.  These challenges range from consistent metadata standards, to incoporating EGC into enterprise intranet searches for content, to integration with existing content management platforms.

As I mentioned in last week's blog, enterprises are broadcasting increasing volumes of content.  They are utilizing platforms and services, originally designed for media broadcast, such as encoding, editing, video workflow, video storage, content management and more.  It remains to be seen how EGC will be adopted by enterprise companies.  EGC vendors are not only providing employers with a means to tap into the employee social mindset, they integreate Will they establish policies for EGC?  Will they define target audiences for this content?  Will they restrict the type of content employees can create?  How will they manage this content?  How will it integreate with existing systems and IT infrastructure?  It's early days but exciting to think about how this can change the ways we connect, collaborate and communicate in business.

What's your perspective?

The Enterprise is a Broadcaster

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Many of us grew up with the Big 3 Broadcasters:  CBS, NBC and ABC.  When we hear the term broadcast, we immediately think of news and entertainment programs offered by these networks.  We have adapted to include FOX, CW and the myriad of cable networks providing news 24x7, entertainment and education programming.  However, I don't think think that many us actually think about enterprise companies broadcasting.  But, they do!

The volume of content being created and shared, live and on-demand, by corporations is increasing dramatically.  IDC's White Paper, Best Practices for Enterprise Content Delivery, estimates that employees are watching an average of 2 hours of video per month.  Initially, only very large companies could implement video streaming.  They were driven by a desire for consistent executive communication to employees.  They faced high production costs and high networking costs due bandwidth requirements.  However, they saw the benefit of enterprise video.  As companies became more geographically dispersed, video solutions provided alternatives for excecutive communication, training, product promotion, investor relations and customer service.  Large companies soon realized they could not exist without a variety of video-centric solutions.

Simulteneously, streaming formats advanced subsequently providing better quality yet requiring less bandwidth.  DRM and network security improved thus providing confidence for corporate communication teams and IT and Networking specialists.  In addition, tools evolved to pro-actively monitor and manage the networks thus ensuring a positive quality of service.  Hosted services also evolved to alleviate the burden on the corporate network.  With VPNs available to host and delivery content securely, small & mid size companies were able to take advantage of the same benefits as the big guys. 

As a result, there are now multiple terabytes of video content resident at most enteprise companies.  Enterprises are broadcating live to their investor community and employees while making educational, promotional and training content available on-demand.  Companies, such as Ascent Media, Grass Valley, Avid and others, that have provided solutions to the traditional media & entertainment industry, now also provide solutions to the Enterprise.

Considering the size of the Enterprise Video market this is not surprising.  Wintegreen Research anticipates enterprise video to be a $14.4 billion market by 2014.  IDC anticipates enterprise online video to grow at a compounded rate of 50% over the next 5 years.  The economy, lack of standards and continuously evolving and emerging solutions will challenge the growth, but the committment and value seem clear. The enterprsie market cannot compare with the size and complexity of the traditional broadcast market, yet when combined with the focus exhibited by the enterprise on implementing these solutions and the evolution of vendor solutions it is clear that Enterprises have become Broadcasters.

What's your perspective?

Digital Media at IBC

Peggy Dau - Tuesday, September 08, 2009

I'm on my way to IBC (International Broadcasters Conference) in Amsterdam, September 10-14.  This conference brings together the global thought leaders and vendors in the broadcast and new media space.  As expected, the conference agenda focuses on those technologies related to the creation, management and distribution of video.  In particular, the delivery and distribution of video content continues to evolve simply because we as consumers desire to access content on a variety of different devices which access content through a similar variety of network protocols.

Watching the trends in the broadcast industry where quality is of the utmost concern, usually paves the way for understanding options available to the enterprise.  While the enterprise typically does not require a 24x7 broadcast center, they do need to understand the challenges of creating, storing, editing, promoting, distributing and consuming video content.  I'm looking forward to seeing what's new!  I'm also interested to understand how this industry is incorporating social media in a more strategic manner. 

What's your perspective?