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“Ultimately, the cloud is the latest example of Schumpeterian creative destruction: creating wealth for those who exploit it; and leading to the demise of those that don’t.”
- Joe Weinman, Senior VP at Telx and author of Cloudonomics: The Business Value of Cloud Computing
While Joe Weinman’s statement clearly matches the vision of his company, he is far from alone in describing the dramatic changes brought by cloud technology. In fact, most of our customers have already come to us to discuss the challenges they face as well as the new business and technological possibilities they wish to exploit. While Dalet customer references include a large variety of media organizations, from news broadcasters and post-production houses, to thematic channels, musical radio stations and sports teams, most of them actually share similar aspirations.
What most broadcasters and media organizations are striving for today can be summarized in three words: New Business Horizons. In today’s fast-paced and ultracompetitive business environment, it is all about the ability to respond rapidly to evolving consumer demands and explore new revenue streams, with business solutions as dynamic as the infrastructure and operations on which they’re based.
The good news is that today, these solutions are a reality thanks to the advancement of cloud, virtualization and hybrid on/off-premise deployments, enabling on-demand usage, ubiquitous access, dynamic scalability and elasticity, as well as pay-per-use models thanks to measured usage. Broadcasters and media organizations indeed have a powerful technological toolset at their fingertips to adapt, evolve and succeed in a world where the (majority of the) cards have been folded.
Where should they start?
In the broadcast & media industry, cloud technology has moved in just a few years from the status of a buzzword without much substance to one of the fastest growing areas of project spending, according to the Big Broadcast Survey from Devoncroft. In 2015, for the third year in a row, it was cited among the top 5 trends by broadcasters and media organizations.
However, cloud technology being a top trend should not be enough of a reason for your organization to invest in it. Before you call your technology providers to start discussing cloud-enabled, media management solutions, you must first do your homework. It mainly comes down to answering one question:
“Why should cloud technology become part of my equation?”
Well, the answer to this question depends on your business needs. Each organization has its own, specific needs derived from its core business objectives. Here are some examples:
Compete or partner with pure OTT players by creating your own platform, services or apps to produce and/or deliver multimedia content over the open internet. Cloud technology allows you to accelerate solution and content development, and more generally rollout cycles. The icing on the cake? You don’t have to invest in bulky infrastructure anymore, just to provision development and test environments, and pay for the resources used. Pilots and experimentations can be done in weeks rather than months, with no or minimal capital expenditures.
Consumers are particularly demanding in terms of content access, quality and continuity. They expect a smooth experience to consume their favorite news or sports programs, music, movies or TV shows on a widening array of connected devices: from hybrid or pure IP set-top boxes to Internet-enabled TVs, tablets, smartphones, PCs and gaming consoles. With this level of device proliferation and always more content in (too) many formats, cloud-enabled services have proven to be media organizations’ best allies for handling media processing, versioning and distribution operations.
Whether it’s covering national elections, local events or second-tier sports competitions, there is no longer any reason to ignore these opportunities today. Cloud technology has democratized the market for the coverage of such events. For instance, setting up a full-fledged, cloud-based newsroom system (more here) takes no more than a few hours. Hyper local or hyper personalized news, sport or entertainment content generally goes along with highly engaged audiences. Media organizations should take advantage of it, as this is now economically viable.
By nature, multimedia content is social and potentially viral. Broadcasters and media organizations have well understood this and are today massively present on social media. The next step is to fully embrace the social revolution: it’s not only about standard, multimedia publications anymore, it’s about live, 360° social experiences. Whether it’s quickly repurposing content to enrich a story/program or streaming live events using popular services like Snapchat, Facebook Live or Periscope, cloud technology will be your key partner.
Bring down geographical barriers, and enable ubiquitous access to resources and full mobility for your staff. Thanks to cloud-enabled media management workflows, users can contribute, document, edit, review and upload/download content from virtually anywhere in the world. Whether you’re aiming at a true “2.0” organization or looking to expand in a new country without a big infrastructure investment, cloud technology empowers geographically dispersed teams, freelancers and ultra-mobile collaborators.
Broadcasters still often have too much dependency on traditional, mass advertising. Through the many business opportunities offered by the cloud, it is also the perfect time to start or accelerate the move to an economic mix with more diversity. This can potentially include Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD), hyper-targeted and rich ads on mobile, à la carte channels with native advertising, gamification and more.
With great cost pressures and intensifying competition from lower-cost entrants, broadcasters and media organizations need to reduce up-front investments and align costs with revenues. By gradually adopting cloud services, they are able to lower capital expenditures (capex) and benefit from on-demand, pay-per-use economic models. Ultimately, cloud technology helps you reduce Total Cost of Ownership (TCO).
Whether it is a pure technical failure, an unexpected natural disaster or a human mistake, you should never underestimate fate! Cloud technology allows you to set up robust business continuity and disaster recovery workflows with built-in redundancy. You should take advantage of it.
While I’m sure you’ll agree that these opportunities all sound very interesting, there is an essential pre-condition to achieve any of them. Your organization needs to rely on an agile infrastructure, and that’s exactly what cloud technology enables. Extend reach, respond faster and scale according to demand! Based on this new paradigm, organizations are able to run nextgen operations with new levels of collaboration and mobility, also elevating user tasks through advanced automation and reporting. Ultimately, new business horizons become a reality with the capacity to respond to evolving consumer demands and explore new revenue streams.
Let’s be clear however, the “cloud” is not the answer. As always, technology is only the enabler, and the key is to leverage it well to cater to your own business needs. Everything should be driven by a shared, strategic vision and well-identified business goals within your organization – not by technology.
Furthermore, there is no such thing as a full transition to the cloud in the broadcast & media industry, as that would imply that everything will migrate there and become virtualized or containerized. It won't, at least not any time soon... The near future lies in smart, hybrid mixes of on/off-premise deployments that allow media organizations to keep control over critical infrastructure and crucial data, but also benefit from the promises of the cloud.
That’s exactly our philosophy with Dalet xN: providing agile, media management solutions, scalable to many thousands of concurrent users over various geographies. And we are not alone on this journey. We are partnering with the most trusted cloud and virtualization technology providers, such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure and VMware.
In the second part of this article [update: now available here], we will introduce in more depth our unique approach to the cloud and share real-life Dalet xN case studies. From affordable, on-demand marketplace apps, to hybrid, standard image and native, cloud-based tailored deployments, Dalet xN business solutions suit all needs and increase the effectiveness of the media economy.