Emilio L. Zapata
In a recent report “The Evolution of Production Workflows”*, MovieLabs asks "Would it be nice if software-defined workflows could be assembled as interconnecting children’s blocks, where integration is as simple as connecting the pieces in the desired configuration?” To make workflows in the Media & Entertainment (M&E) market more flexible, it proposes defining a minimum set of standards and practices for workflow interactions, thus promoting interoperability and minimising the work required to quickly create a custom workflow. In this way, "the creatives decide what must be done and which workflow components are interconnected to them".
In the M&E market there are media processes that can be complex because media files reside in different storage spaces, are in different formats, must be processed with specialised tools and are the fundamental component of application-to-application integration. In addition, there is a need to minimise media file movements between systems, ensuring that it is the applications that go to the media and not the media to the applications.
A software-defined workflow uses a reconfigurable set of tools/applications and processes to facilitate creative tasks by connecting them through collaboration and automation via software. We can easily deduce that the flexibility demanded in the previous question cannot be achieved by classical point-to-point integrations due to their complexity and lack of flexibility, among other risks. Consequently, the integration paradigm has to be changed.
When we analyse the processes that exist within an M&E organisation, we tend to focus on those that stand out in complexity. On the other hand, we neglect the more elementary and less visible processes that tend to be simple, informal and ad-hoc in nature. The graph below shows a rough distribution of processes in an M&E organisation. There is a large majority of simple processes that should be implemented without the need to go to the IT department. In other words, users should be able to design all processes that do not require programming knowledge.
We are transitioning to a broader and more diverse range of software, IP, cloud, and cross-platform technologies for the M&E market. There are more tools than ever for every part of the workflow. More and more software applications are needed and companies have to turn to a greater number of providers. Trying to make everything work and stay connected as software is updated or new tools are added is becoming a tiring task. It is the responsibility of technology suppliers to provide an enhanced ability to create software that generates tangible business results and accelerates fundamental cultural change for companies.
Media Integration Platform
Often people don't know what they want until they see it. When this happens, software projects take too long. Then come the change requests and the problems associated with possible breaches, because too often users include everything they can think of in the technical requirements specification (RFP), assuming that everything is possible.
The question is, how do you get users and the software team to work together in the initial phase of the automation project using software-defined workflows? The best way to start designing a solution is to think of simple processes (prototypes) and start implementing them, then make adjustments to the prototype. A prototype verifies that business ideas work, analyses how to improve the prototype and can define additional functionalities as needed. In this way, ideas can be expressed quickly and it would not take months for the development team to understand the RFP and transfer the ideas to the application.
A Media Integration Platform represents a new generation of applications that allow the time it takes to develop software projects to be drastically shortened. This is because the platform facilitates communication between users and development teams, creating prototypes that visualise the needs of the business. We are talking about the difference between many months to two or three weeks in the development of a project.
A Media Integration Platform allows sophisticated business processes to be visually composed by dragging and dropping components (applications and user tasks) into the design area (canvas) and then configuring their functionality, speeding up process development. A Media Integration Platform should allow users to design at least 70% of the software-defined workflows in the graph above without knowing how to program.
A Media Integration Platform is ideal for implementing the development of solutions based on software-defined workflows in the M&E market, because it integrates the different applications and the people involved in each process at the metadata and media file processing level, as well as organising the work of the users.
In fact, a Media Integration Platform allows both the exchange of metadata between applications and the efficient development of workflows for receiving, indexing, archiving, exchanging, transforming, producing and distributing content in multiple formats (codecs, components, segmented) and qualities. Examples are the preparation of content for multiplatform distribution, content localization or the automatic indexing of content using artificial intelligence tools.
Thanks to Media Integration Platform technology, M&E organisations no longer have to start from scratch or wait for IT to build, upgrade or enable the digital transformation of legacy applications. A Media Integration Platform allows both "technical" and "business" users to create any type of process, from simple to complex, without writing code. With a Media Integration Platform-based solution, technology development becomes more agile, collaborative, dynamic and responsive to customer needs including:
- Ability to translate business requirements and outcomes into technology solutions.
- Unprecedented flexibility, speed and agility to adapt to changing customer conditions.
- Maximises efficiency and reduces costs, improves profitability and accelerates growth.
- Dramatically reduces delivery times.
Democratise is a strong word, Media Integration Platform technology democratises solution development and accelerates innovation in the M&E market. By combining different skills, "technical" and "business" users, they break down functional silos and hierarchies and help drive innovation and business agility. We believe automation should be easy, because everyone deserves to work smarter, not harder. Our mission is to democratise process automation in the M&E market, where innovation and agility are needed and business processes need to be rethought or refined quite frequently.
Market and consumer behaviours are changing faster than ever before. We are at the forefront of this technology transition and perfectly positioned to enable next generation user experiences, creating solutions that leverage the potential of the cloud, maximise interoperability and enable users to define their processes autonomously and create workflows in a flexible and agile manner. Without a doubt, we are getting closer every day to providing a solid and practical answer to the question posed by MovieLabs.
*Reference: White paper “The Evolution of Production Workflows” https://movielabs.com/news/6334/
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