MAD Perspectives Blog

Clouds Taking Shape For Broadcast & Cable

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 08, 2015

Clouds are a good thing. Really. They are. Especially when they bring opportunity, flexibility and innovation. 

Cloud solutions are making the news on an increasingly regular basis. The M&A activity related to cloud technology is hot as companies throughout the media lifecycle look to the cloud to drive new business models. Whether it is in post-production, the newsroom or cable head-end, cloud is the word. Cloud computing has been the talk of the IT industry for almost 20 years, but it is thanks to Google and Amazon that the terminology, and the technology, is now part of our everyday conversation. Clouds, you remember them - those white fluffy things up in the sky, are flexible and ever shifting. This is the premise behind cloud computing - on demand access to technology resources.

As the media industry increasing adopts IP and IT technology to enable media workflows, live broadcast and content distribution, cloud provides opportunities. In all cases, the consideration of cloud is driven by the need for flexibility without incurring unnecessary cost. Examples of cloud solutions changing the shape of the broadcast and cable industries:

  • Workflows - From content ingest, to transcode, edit, QC, review, and syndication, cloud solutions enable production and post-production teams to collaborate without geographic boundary. Solutions, from vendors such as NativAframe and Forscene, deliver flexibility in orchestrating tasks, resources and people. They simplify upload of footage and stories from remote locations, accelerate the editing process,and improve collaboration. They integrate with established editing solutions, while also forcing those solutions to transition to the cloud themselves.

  • Newsroom - The fast pace of live news requires solutions that allow field reporters to easily upload footage, incorporate user generated content, capture social perspectives. Established newsroom vendors such as Avid and Dalet are now using the cloud to capture real-time content, share and modify rundowns and allow reporters to do what they do best - discover and tell the story.

Distribution - It could be said that the distribution and delivery of content is the original cloud solution. Back in the 1990's content delivery networks emerged to enable digital delivery of media content across IP networks. Akamai emerged as the kind of CDNs enabling services for a variety of online video providers such as Brightcove and media companies such as NBC, MTV and Discovery. However, CDN itself is changing as vendors such as Scality bring the combination of object storage and cloud together to address the storage demands of CDN origin and edge servers. Offloading the storage demands from the CDN to the cloud provides increased storage scalability and economic flexibility as content libraries grow.

Consumption - Cable operators recognize the demand from consumers to enjoy content when, where and how they want. The set-top box has long been the hub which controlled how consumers could watch content on-demand. However, Charter is changing the game with its stake in ActiveVideo. By pushing DVR functionality into the cloud, they increase storage capacity, unify processing functions and eliminate silos of technology specific to ingest, transcode and streaming. They can simplify content discovery and personalize EPGs without concern for the STB hardware. 

Across the media supply chain, vendors are changing the strategies to capitalize upon the cloud. Ericsson is a primary example of a traditional network equipment provider recognizing the future of TV. Through acquisition and R&D, Ericsson enables cloud solutions for: media processing and contribution; delivery of TV content with MediaFirst a software-defined, media-optimized platform enabling the next generation of PAY TV operators; time-shifting and viewing on any device with cloud DVR. 

Cloud computing, for media, offers opportunities to innovate and bring great stories to market more quickly. It provides greater flexibility in serving content as consumers demand it. And, most importantly it enables innovation and flexibility in cost-effective model. Cloud reduces hardware acquisition challenges while improving scalability, turns capital expenses into operating expenses, and frees up time to create service differentiation.

What's your perspective?


Mobile at the Intersection!

Peggy Dau - Monday, June 23, 2014

Mobile is changing the face of business as we know it. It sits at the intersection of cloud, social and big data. While much focus in the mobile phone market is about devices and apps for the consumer, I would argue that Microsoft's decision to finally release it's Office suite as apps for both iPhone and IPad is a true barometer reflecting the increasing use of these devices for business purposes. Why is mobile so important? Aside from the flexibility that it provides users, mobile is driving use of cloud based services as the device itself does not function in a typical client/server fashion. These devices are the route to success for social networks as proven by Facebook's continued investment and focus on mobile. They are changing the shape of industries from healthcare to media to financial services. 

How? Healthcare is perhaps at the forefront of the M2M conversation with the ability for devices to share critical patient data with other devices. Or with the ability to simply encourage users to live healthier lives through wearables and apps capturing and tracking cardio activities or comparing healthy food options. Mobile solutions for healthcare also include patient appointment reminders and medication alerts. Doctors can provide virtual consultations and use software based diagnostic tools that incorporate a patient's medical history to make health recommendations. In the background this is all enabled by cloud, big data and social networking concepts.

The financial services sector has adopted mobile for banking, payments and brokerage transactions. Not only can we review account balances, we can deposit checks, transfer funds, research investments and perform transactions. And, the mobile payments industry (which perhaps is as much about e-commerce as it is financial transactions) is still maturing as companies like Square, Dwolla, Google Wallet simplify payments via your mobile device. The amount of data that is now available to financial institutions thanks to mobile banking allows banks to customize their marketing efforts, creating both efficiencies and new business opportunities.

The media and entertainment industry has been turned on its ear by mobile. Everything from cameras to media workflows to ad sales and advertising itself is going mobile. On the operational side, mobile solutions are lowering costs for broadcasters providing coverage of sport events like the FIFA World Cup. Mobile has also forced significant shifts in media workflows as multichannel consumption is now the norm, not an option. This means content producers must consider HOW they will enable content to be distributed and consumed on a wide variety of devices. Mobile allows social sharing of content, opinions. It is the second screen for entertainment. Media is social. It generates consumer data and content data - all of which is beneficial for operational and financial purposes. And, it is all increasingly happening in the cloud.

The industry at the heart of all? The industry without which none of this could happen. No, its not Apple or Google or any of the device or operating system providers. Its the telecommunications industry. they provide the bandwidth, be it 3G, LTE or WiFi, that allows our devices to connect to their networks and access the information, entertainment or people they desire. Not only does mobile "validate" the existence of communication service providers, it offers them new business opportunities. Companies like AT&T and Verizon, offer a variety of services to help businesses, large or small, develop and/or capitalize upon the use of mobile apps. They provide device management solutions to help businesses address the "Bring Your Own Device" desire for many employees. They provide data analytics services to visualize how, when and where users are accessing information.

That brings the final piece of the puzzle to the table. Data. Lots and lots of data. Data about the subscriber, where they are, what they do. Patterns can be illuminated. Browsing habits can reveal new opportunities. Data about devices and networks. How much data is being transported across networks. What type of data is it?  Structured? Unstructured? Is it related to entertainment, social media, sports, financial services, health, e-commerce, travel? It's no wonder that big data analytics vendors are squarely focused on mobility and the ecosystem that exists around it.

Our mobile devices are our most important accessories. How many times do we double check to make sure we have our devices with us when we are laving the house. They are our link to FINDING information -  about products, competitors, customer service, market trends, industry insights and more. They improve our productivity. They save business a lot of money through time saved. They help business invest in new markets and new solutions, through the use of time saved elsewhere. Mobile devices have changed the way we live and the way businesses will evolve.

What's your perspective?

Cloudy Days Becoming the Norm in Media

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 28, 2014

When I arrived in Vegas two and half weeks ago, to attend NAB 2014, I anticipated a greater focus on cloud. I was not disappointed. The cloud was a dominant part of the conversation, with companies at all points along the media value chain providing cloud enabled solutions. Transcoding and storage have long been the poster children for cloud services.  Why? Because, transcoding is an infrastructure heavy process, challenging ROI goals due to the high cost in building the required server farms and the inconsistent use of the servers.  

As for storage, the cloud addresses a variety of concerns. The adoption of cloud storage, across all industries, was initially focused around disaster recovery. Companies opted for cost effective solutions to store and protect key assets. However, other valid uses quickly became apparent. Centralized access to media assets for either professional or consumer purposes addresses concerns for ease of access, effective collaboration and workflow efficiency. While concerns for content security have diminished, they have not complete disappeared. 

The business drivers remain consistent: increased collaboration, quicker time to market, enabling new business models, cost flexibility and  infrastructure scalability. At NAB, companies across the media industry announced and promoted their solutions in and for the cloud. From the Level 3 Communications bus, parked outside the South Hall, decorated in clouds, to the Avid Everywhere announcement. The cloud was front and center. 

     - Grass Valley introduced its cloud-based GV Stratus Playout solution, which positions playout cards at the edge of any network to provide fame accurate playback, displays still and animated logos and high quality pre-rendered graphics.  

    - Forbidden Technologies, a leader is cloud based workflow,  announced its rebranding to better reflect is primary solution, Forscene, which is a cloud-based video post-production platform.  

     - RGB Networks presented its CloudXStream capabilities, a cloud enabled platform to manage ad insertion for multiscreen and nDVR solutions

     - Vizrt now provides a cloud based media repository, on-demand media processing, management and storage services in the cloud leveraging their VIzOne Media Asset Management Services in combination with Aspera's FASP high speed transfer.

     - Chyron's Axis World Graphics allow broadcasters to create graphics such as high resolution maps, 3D charts or financial quotes for broadcast, online and second screens (aka mobile) - all in the cloud.

     - Imagine Communications (formerly Harris Broadcast) offers SelinioNext adaptive bit rate transcoding leveraging its IP based framework, MediaCentral, for migrating and optimizing media and playout functionality in virtualized cloud environments.

These are just a sampling of the announcements that exemplify the industry focus on cloud. All of this attention to cloud is good news for IT companies. The evolution of digital workflows and IP networks have set the stage for this transition. Companies like Microsoft and its Microsoft Azure Media Services partners with Forscene, Imagine Communicaitons, Wowza Media, Digital Rapids and NBC to enable live and on-demand cloud-based media workflows. IBM SoftLayer, a global cloud infrastructure, sits behind solutions from Vizrt and Imagine Communications. While Amazon Web Services is the enabler for Telestream, Harmonic, Wowza, Adobe Creative Cloud and others.

Sometimes a cloud day is good news. It looks like clouds are here to stay in the media industry.

What's your perspective?

Real-time Takes on New Meaning

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The sense of immediacy that occurs at live events is now pervasive online. We expect to find information immediately. We connect to our friends via social networks with an expectation of instant response. Brands and marketers have been focused on understanding the impact of real-time data for the past few years. The broadcast industry has also been ramping up its capabilities for real-time. Where once upon a time we could wait until the evening news to review the days events, that is now unacceptable.  Social media has forever changed this paradigm. Now, broadcasters are incorporating real-time capabilities across their operations, in the form of breaking news news incorporating user-generated content, real-time voting, real-time audience engagement or real-time advertising.

There was significant focus on real-time at the NAB show last week in Las Vegas. The adoption of IT solutions such as Cloud and Big Data are in one part due to content producer and broadcaster need for real-time solutions. These solutions will help them become more efficient and advance their capabilities for audience engagement. How is real-time related to these big trends?  Let's consider a few examples.

     - Avid announced its Avid Everywhere. Recognizing the demand and need for geographically dispersed teams, while taking advantage of the best talent available, Avid Everywhere provides new ProTools capabilities in the cloud enable connectivity and collaboration with remote team members in REAL-TIME or offline.

     -, a leader in Social TV technologies, showcased new products Story and Spots. While cloud-based Story was the "big story" with its ability to integrate real-time posts from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Vine into live broadcasts (think chat shows or talent contests), I found Spot to be quite interesting. Social Spots provides the audience with the ability to submit its pictures to be inserted into a pre-defined advertising spot. What may have been a anonymous ad now becomes immediate and relatable due to the real-time insertion of real people.

     - Decentrix, provider of Media Business Intelligence Solutions, introduced programmatic ad buying for broadcasters. Their solution not only collects static data from traditional sources, but aggregates and correlates data from real-time sources to define the true value of ad inventory.

     - AMD's FirePro workstation graphics cards provide performance enabling creative talent to develop and edit 4K content without typical latency concerns. Their technological focus on speed and responsiveness enables the next generation of ultra-high speed visualization environments.

These solutions impact the technology and business of broadcast. They improve operational efficiency of workflows. They invite greater audience engagement through audience participation or enhanced content development. They allow broadcasters to identify opportunities to capitalize upon their own assets. Isn't this what any business desires?

The focus on real-time is the result of the world we now live in where immediate access to information is the norm. The adoption of smartphones and the availability of content via 4G LTE networks has influenced our psyche. As a result, our expectations in the workplace or at home are for solutions that support our need for instant gratification. As an industry whose fortunes are intricately dependent on its audience, the ability to provide real-time content, whatever form it takes (news, advertising, engagement, dialogue, etc.) will continue to influence the creation and advancement of enabling solutions. I expect the discussion around real-time to become as dominant as those around cloud and big data.

What's your perspective?

What's Trending at NAB2014?

Peggy Dau - Monday, April 07, 2014

I'm en route to NAB 2014 in Las Vegas. Since I'm not a vendor I can enjoy a less frenetic NAB experience.  For the uninitiated, The National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas is "Where Content Comes to Live" - to borrow their tag line. Anyone involved in the creation, management, monetization, distribution and consumption of professional content attends. It's a LOUD, BRIGHT industry event. It's also an opportunity to understand the nuts and bolts behind the content that we enjoy at the movies, on broadcast or cable TV, or on the Internet (e.g., Netflix, YouTube, Hulu and others).

While the broadcast industry still utilizes a lot of proprietary solutions to capture, produce and manage content, it is increasingly adopting IT solutions.  As an IT gal, given my past history at Hewlett-Packard, I'm always interested in seeing how the big IT trends impact this industry. As I arrive in Las Vegas, I know there will be a lot of discussion about 4K or UltraHD content. This is an industry specific conversation that impacts the consumer marketplace in the shape of TVs, the telecom industry due to bandwidth required for distribution and the IT industry due to demands on server and storage products. But, 4K is hot topic unique to this industry.

What about Big Data? What about Cloud? What about Social Media? Yes, they all impact this industry and are increasingly shaping the future of this industry. 

  1. Media companies are investing in platforms to gain greater insight into audience desires. Why? To create the content that will attract an audience that attracts advertisers. 
  2. Cloud solutions are evolving for live production as well as post-production. Why? To provide greater flexibility, manage operational costs and improve time to market. 
  3. Social and Second Screen solutions are integrated into existing platforms and workflows. Why? To increase audience engagement and optimize the consumer experience…and create an incremental advertising revenue stream.
I'm interested to see how solutions i've seen in the past have continued to evolve (e.g.,, Forbidden Technologies, Aframe). I'm curious to see the rebranding of several broadcast stalwarts (e.g., Harris/Imagine Communications, Grass Valley/Miranda). I'm looking forward to uncovering new solutions related to advertising, licensing and rights management as will as multi-channel content management & distribution. I'm happy to see former colleagues and meet new ones. 

It's NAB 2014!

What's your perspective?

Adopting Disruptive Technology? Manage Expectations!

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 17, 2014

In a world where new technologies are emerging every day, there is now an expectation for immediate success. However, that is simply not realistic. Innovators of the past benefited from the lack of social networks sharing speculation, much less leaking technical specifications, as to the purpose, benefit or proposed business model for new products or services. Today, the stock market turns on a dime if Twitter usage is not as hoped. One of the biggest challenges for management, sales and customer service, is managing expectations.'

The same is true when adopting new technologies or using new solutions. As I've attended conferences addressing the benefits, adoption and use of social media, cloud services and big data there is one common theme - manage expectations. This is a two way street. Both providers and adopters of these services must manage expectations as there are many examples of solution deployments that disappoint. In some cases it is the inability to translate numbers of followers into tangible leads, and subsequently revenue. In other situation its the failure to clearly understand new processes required to optimize a SaaS (software-as-a-service) offering.

As with the creation of any strategy or adoption of tactics, well defined desired outcomes are a critical part of success. When adoption social media, organizations often forget that this can be a multi-stage process. The Altimeter Group has been at the forefront in providing insight on business use of social media, providing a common sense framework for adopting, incorporating and formalizing social media into existing processes. Their reports, such as The State of Social Business 2013, helps businesses set realistic goals, identify required training or process improvements, and yes, manage expectations.

I listened to broadcasters, at the recent Broadcast & Video Exposition in London,  talk about their adoption of social media. In every case they talked about trial and error in their use social media. They spoke about how social networks such as Twitter had changed the nature of broadcast by becoming the "channel" for breaking news. As a result, networks now use Twitter to break news in real time. Their tweets direct followers to their online or scheduled broadcasts for more detailed information. At the same time their online destinations and live broadcasts invite viewers to follow them on Twitter and Facebook. They also utilize the social networks to raise awareness of special programs or ongoing series. 

Every content or social media strategist emphasizes the "trial and error" nature of social media, not in terms of actually using the networks, but in determining the content that will drive engagement. While data can be collected to identify key topics of interest to an audience, the manner in which those topics are discussed often influences the level of engagement. Understanding that the use of social media is an evolution not a miracle cure is critical to managing expectations. Understanding that social media is part of a greater content strategy is critical to managing expectations.  Understanding that policy and training will help employees understand how and when to use social media is critical to managing expectations. Get it? 

Whether you are in the broadcast & media, financial services, manufacturing, high tech, pharmaceutical or other industry, you must consider the impact of ANY new solute. Whether it is social media, cloud, big data analytics or other disrupting solutions consider how the technology will impact people and process. Share proposed goals, benefits, concerns, training and anticipated changes.  In short - manage expectations! Success will come more easily!

What's your perspective?

Look to the Clouds if Seeking Flexibility

Peggy Dau - Monday, March 10, 2014

The debate regarding the benefits or pitfalls of cloud solutions in the media & entertainment industry continues to evolve as businesses throughout the industry test the increasing variety of options available to them. From solutions to offload CPU intensive elements of broadcast workflows, review dailies or manage rights and contracts for distribution of content across multiple platforms, there is a solution. They come from enterprise technology companies adapting their platforms to the needs of their media clients and from privately held businesses who create solutions to address a specific need in the market. Their solutions exist for just that reason - a need in the market.

As with other industries, the media & entertainment industry is under pressure to improve operational efficiency. In short, this is code for doing more with less. Content producers, be they Hollywood studios, ad agencies or broadcasters, must still create original content. This process requires the production of content which ultimately results in dailies, that must be reviewed by the director and other decision makers. The cloud improves the efficiency of reviewing the dailies by allowing them to be shared via services such as rather than physical delivery of a DVD. As long as their is sufficient network connectivity on both ends, the key benefits are the saving of time and effort, thus allowing the post-production process to move forward more quickly. And, as long as the cost of connectivity does not surpass the cost of physical express delivery, this scenario is cost effective.

But, content production is about more than storytelling, it is about the management of the contracts and rights to monetize and distribute content. The area of business management is one that is ripe for cloud solutions. Functions such as finance, reporting, rights & royalties, program planning, scheduling and CRM are critical to the success of media companies. However, these functions often exist in organizational silos with disparate systems supporting their specific needs. As business models become more complex, so do the requirements for the functionality of these systems. While in-house solutions have been available for years, new or enhanced functionality is required. All media companies are seeking solutions to break down silos, integrate systems and simplify access to and management of media assets. 

They are seeking workflows that allow talent to access systems from wherever they are located. They seek solutes that simplify the distribution and monetization of content through a wide range of channels to and even wider range of devices. They demand solutions to manage complex rights and licenses. The business of media has become increasingly multifaceted as content owners seek greater insight about their audiences, while striving to increase global reach for their content. Cloud based solutions provide operational flexibility and efficiency through their easy deployment software functionality while virtualizing hardware functionality. Software to manage contracts, licenses, rights, schedules, avails, assets, data, marketing, etc. is now accessible via the cloud. Imagine enabling your sales teams to access relevant data to impress clients, placing orders and validating schedules, all in real time. Add in the ability to gather, analyze and share audience feedback, based on integrations with leading ratings and social media measurement firms, and a media company is not only pleasing its consumers, it's fulfilling the needs of its advertisers.

The business of creating and monetizing content has changed dramatically. The cloud is the enabler for overcoming many of the challenges created by prior technological limitations which created organization silos and cumbersome workflows.

What's your perspective?

Trust is Critical

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Trust. It is the most important aspect of any relationship. Be it a personal or business; B2C or B2B or B2B2C. The challenge for B2B businesses is that trust is impacted by many direct and indirect factors throughout the pre-sales, sales and post-sales process. While a sales person can establish a fantastic relationship with their client, a supply chain issue or poor customer service can quickly shift the nature of that relationship. Now, with business communicating and engaging with their customers through multiple channels and via different platforms, their are increasing opportunities to build or break trust.

As Satya Nadella, the newly named CEO of Microsoft, said yesterday in his webcast with customers and partners, "Mobile First, Cloud First".  These new business channels are a mandate, but  trust may be the single most important concern for customers utilizing these technologies. Although, this concern may not be stated explicitly. When analyzing cloud vs. on-premise solutions, the focus is often financial. The discussion revolves around technology, business need, business process, accessibility, reliability, scalability and security. The word trust is not used, but it is the underlying concern. At the core, can the SaaS, Iaas, or PaaS provider be trusted to protect data and guarantee performance.

Interestingly, it is services that we take for granted like email, social media or messaging that provide a context for trust. They all take place in the cloud. They enable communication, collaboration, immediacy - and we trust them. Sure, there are notable, publicly announced breaches. Yet, we access email and social networks from wherever we are. We trust that we can post and share updates. We trust that our business or personal email will find its way to the intended recipient. We quickly connect with friends and family without concern for some random stranger intruding.  

On a larger scale, social media has proven to be a source of great insight for companies. It provides them not only with a channel through which they can connect with their customers, it provides customers with a method for increasing visibility to their needs or concerns. When implemented with thought and care, corporate use of social media has allowed business to enhance their perceived trustworthiness. 

Businesses need to apply that same thought and care to their use of mobile and cloud. These technologies provide for 24x7 access to data and information by employees, partners and customers. This creates demand for the right content at the right time in the right format. The opportunity exists for for business to create deeper customer relationships and greater customer loyalty through the development of apps and services.  And, it's all based on trust.

What's your perspective?

TV's Perfect Storm

Peggy Dau - Monday, September 09, 2013

There is a growing conversation surrounding the value of social intelligence. Altimeter defines social intelligence as "insight derived from social data that organizations could use confidently, at scale, and in conjunction with other data sources to make strategic decision". It is the natural progression from social media marketing, social media monitoring and social media analytics. This intelligence reveals audience segments along with contextual understanding of customer likes and dislikes - providing brands with tangible actions to pursue. In short, it validates the investment in social media for companies.

When considering social intelligence related to the TV industry, it is no wonder that Social TV and Second Screen apps are attracting a lot of attention. This is an industry in a constant state of change. Today this change is relevant to cord cutting, an increasing OTT audience, network battles with distributors – as well as a back-office technology evolution away from proprietary products. Today, the incorporation of social data into business planning is marketing centric. It is centered on defining the right message for a specified audience via an agreed upon channel. In the not too distant future it will be used to influence product development, mergers & acquisition, innovation and public policy.

The back-end of the myriad of Social TV and Second Screen platforms or apps is firmly entrenched in the cloud, providing a combination of both flexibility and stability for digital strategy teams. Cloud-based solutions provide ease of access to content, social networks, content management systems and historical and real-time data while reducing infrastructure costs even as providing scalability to address peaks in audience engagement.

The early impact of Social TV has focused on content discovery and audience engagement. The interesting side benefit (or perhaps this was the goal all along) is the volume of data that allows content producers to enhance their storytelling while improving the ROI to advertisers. Studies show that second screen ads running simultaneously with TV commercials improve audience recall of the brand. Additionally, the data can reveal key insights as to audience likes and dislikes that will help in the ad targeting.

It is the volume of real-time data that is the essential value of Social TV. Understanding the reaction, intention, sentiment and action of an audience provides producers, distribution channels and brands with clarity and insight that will be used to shape future programming and business models. It is easy to understand why Twitter is being hailed as the early winner in TV-related real-time data, even if Facebook allegedly has 5X the volume of data. With Twitter’s open broadcast model (meaning all tweets are public), plus its acquisition of Trendrr, Twitter has the capability to provide immediate feedback as to trending topics. However, their model currently does not allow a program to curate, manage and fundamentally brand the social conversation. This is the benefit of second screen platforms such as GetGlue, IntoNow, Zeebox and others.

While the future of Social TV is still fuzzy the opportunity is still compelling. Thanks to the adoption of smartphones and tablets – and a natural predilection for multi-tasking, audiences are comfortable with a comfy lean-back entertainment experience that also allows them to easily seek and find complementary content related to the program they are watching. In fact, from an information finding perspective it is irrelevant if the content being watched is live or on-demand. However, from a community engagement point of view, live viewing is a requirement for enjoying real-time interaction with like-minded fans.

Social TV and Second Screen are creating the perfect storm, where social, mobile, big data and cloud are coming together to allow a new type of TV viewing experience that will change the face of content consumption forever. The question remains as to whether the second screen platforms provide a relevant service and business model for content producers, or if the pervasive social networks such as Twitter or Facebook are the best option for attaining both critical mass and the all important audience data. And, if this is the case – does this represent an incremental revenue model for Twitter and Facebook? Social Intelligence is the key and whichever platform can provide the best, most relevant insight - in additional to augmenting the storytelling process, will be the winner.

What’s your perspective?

The Cloud is Open for Media & Entertainment

Peggy Dau - Wednesday, June 26, 2013

...or is it? The concept of openness when it comes to technology is an interesting one, especially when creating cloud solutions. In general, open means free redistribution of  software and technology agnostic licenses. The media & entertainment industry, more so than any other sector, has held onto proprietary, purpose built solutions for capturing, creating and managing their content assets. While the telecommunications industry has standards for its networks, the closest the media industry comes to standards are those related to codecs and file-based workflows (only relevant because of some standardization of said codecs). There are no metadata or essence standards. This lack of standards, much less open standards, is an inhibitor to adoption of cloud solutions. 

Industry leaders have hailed the advancement of cloud solutions as they provide for more open options in performing common media workflow tasks, challenging the long term viability of "old school" vendors. This is an industry where collaborations is demanded. Whether in the creative process or in the supporting business management processes, if each player doesn't fulfill his responsibility a project can come to a screeching halt. A benefit of cloud computing is its accessibility, relative openness and ability to simplify and foster collaboration. The cloud can enable creative types to access the technologies to store, manage, share and distribute their content, streamlining workflows when it comes to editing, reviewing content and obtaining approvals.

The challenge lies in what cloud to use. If the cloud is "open" this shouldn't matter, but the cloud is only open in so far as any cloud platform provides a development framework and relevant APIs (application programming interfaces) to integrate various software applications residing on unique hardware platforms. Whether a media company elects to develop a platform using Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Windows Azure, or to access a hosted solutions from the likes of Adobe or Forbidden Technologies, they are still adapting to the development guidelines or user interfaces allowed by that provider. My question is, does that mean these are open platforms.

In a conversation with a colleague recently, I asked him how he liked his new iPhone after years of working at Microsoft and having had a Windows Phone. He responded in favor of the amazing selection of apps, which was no surprise given Microsoft's late entrance to the smartphone market. However, i then asked how he felt about Apple being a "closed" system. He disagreed, stating that Apple's app developer community, in fact, created openness through its structure and ability to allow any developer to create an app available to the masses who use Apple devices. I struggle with this definition of "open".

As content creators address the demand for cross-platform distribution and consumption of content, they are forced to adapt content addressing the requirements different operating systems, networks and device specifications. Can cloud solutions address this concern, and others related to protecting content during the creative process? Can they simplify rights management, ensuring that only users with the right credentials access and edit content, or actually consume content on the devices of their choosing. Does the cloud simplify the resolution of these challenge or does it simply offer an alternative to existing in house solutions?

This is the debate for the media & entertainment sector (and others). The decisions will be driven by financial, operational, cultural, security and business model requirements. What cloud solutions is your media company using or developing? How important is the "openness" of the cloud platform? What standards are you incorporating or wishing for? The cloud is open for business - how will it help your media & entertainment business achieve its goals?

What's your perspective?