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Oracle – business innovation partner for broadcast and media

Mon 30, 09 2019

Olivier Jorda

Global Media & Entertainment Director, Industry Solutions Group at Oracle

Oracle, which employs 137,000 staff worldwide, has recently joined IABM as a Platinum member. We spoke with Olivier Jorda, Global Media & Entertainment Director, Industry Solutions Group at Oracle, about what the company has to offer in the broadcast and media space and how he sees the landscape unfolding over the coming years – particularly with regard to the battle between OTT and Pay-TV.

The Oracle Business Innovation toolbox

Oracle offers SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and DaaS cloud technologies and can be seen as a business cloud toolbox with cross-industries horizontal applications and vertical offerings in major industries. The Oracle SaaS cloud toolbox includes Customer Experience, ERP, Enterprise Performance Management, Human Capital Management, Supply chain management and DaaS. It’s a wonderful set of market-leading cloud capabilities that, when taken together with Oracle’s expertise in PaaS such as integration, autonomous databases and big data cloud – and our expertise in emerging technologies such as blockchain, IOT, AI, chatbots, digital assistants – gives us a very broad portfolio to draw from when looking at what our media and entertainment customers want to do. Lastly, our IaaS portfolio (or alternatively converged infrastructure) rounds off the most comprehensive offering in the industry.

Applying the Oracle Business Innovation toolbox to media and entertainment

What we do in the Industry Solutions Group is two principal activities.

The first is sales- and partners-enablement, as they are the ones talking to major media players every day about addressing business objectives with technology – the likes of the BBC, Warner Media, Disney etc.; we know about media and what the trends are, and more importantly we know why Oracle is great for media and entertainment companies. We also enable through other expert industry organizations and partners, and this is where our desire to work closely with IABM comes from.

Our second area of focus is solutions portfolio development. That’s where for me – someone who’s been in media for a long time and a strategist who’s looking at the future of our company in media – that’s where excitement is happening because of our unmatched Oracle Business Innovation toolbox described above – we tap into the full portfolio to help our customers achieve their transformation and innovation objectives.

Digital Home Service Solution

A great example of this our Digital Home Service (DHS), which was inspired by a collaboration with Sky in the UK around field service; we develop relevant innovative industry solutions based on real business needs taking advantage of our cloud Business Innovation toolbox. DHS leverages our modern CX suite, IOT and our emerging technologies. What we assessed in the market is that the word ‘convergence’ so beloved 10 years ago is now back with a vengeance – in version 4.0! We saw a great opportunity with a converging solution where Pay-TV operators such as Sky, who consider themselves as connected media companies, and the likes of AT&T on the other hand, meet in the middle and now fight for the same eyeballs and the same wallet share.

Smart Media Production Planning

Currently, we are focusing on finalizing Smart Media Production Planning (SMPP), a new solution for broadcasters and studios. With content output booming, content makers and finance executives both want to minimize the risk of their content investment, be better at planning, manage resources more efficiently, and improve tracking of the profitability of content franchises as well as monitoring true costs in real time.

This new solution leverages our ERP Cloud expertise augmented with blockchain, and covers the entire journey of a production in a media enterprise when investing in a new piece of content – this could be a new TV series or a movie for example. The objective of the solution is to be able to first understand how and why the media enterprise is going to make an investment decision, so we start with a data driven approach to creating a new content concept, to then create a production budget using profitability simulations to get to a point where once a decision is made to invest in a specific production planning, resources can then be allocated inside or outside the company.

The production business is increasingly characterized by a reliance on external contractors (camera operators, script writers, or carpenters to name a few). To manage these external resources, we create a suppliers and contractors’ marketplace on the blockchain where everyone who is part of a production can register their ‘e-passport’ in the blockchain – we call it the Media Crew Network. This gives the company a marketplace of already-vetted resources they can draw from and bring into a production when required – based on production planned needs or to address inevitable contingency issues.

Within the marketplace, you can create smart contracts, a record of payment and royalties, and a single source of immutable information about them, validated by certified third parties – certifications, competences, references, credit ratings or even criminal record etc.

It’s all about validating and peer reviewing. So, if another producer has worked with these contractors, what did they think of them? All this is in the blockchain – and then it’s about the productivity of the production crew. We have created a personalized app to help the crew with their daily job. And finally, looping back and looking at the results of the costs to produce but also tracking revenues such as distribution, advertising, syndication, merchandizing of the franchise and looking at the results to give you confidence to invest again.

It’s like an infinity loop – you plan for your production, go through the process and then reflect on what happened based on audience ratings, impact on revenues and various other KPIs that are important to you. The Media Crew Network sits in the middle of the production, managing the resources and saving time for the next production. This is the excitement for me in this role at Oracle – looking at innovative, transformational solutions to solve real media and entertainment industry issues.

OTT v Pay-TV: the new battleground

The next thing we’re looking at is OTT. I went to the streaming summit at NAB Show this April and it was clear that OTT is proliferating; I learned at the summit that there are 66 OTT services in the US today – which is a lot in itself – and next year, it could double or triple –and that’s just in the US; they’re popping up like flowers in springtime everywhere!

Unlike the development of mobile, where all the value went to the app players, the value for Pay-TV operators, while under threat, is here to stay – with Pay-TV and OTT working in partnership mode. Looking ahead four years, OVUM research tells us that on average 80% of the combined annual Pay-TV & OTT revenues over the 5-year period to 2023 will remain with Pay-TV operators, with Pay-TV’s share falling from 84% in 2018 to 73% in 2023.

It’s a confusing, fragmented market for everyone –especially for consumers. I don’t think Pay-TV will lose the battle of value in the same way that mobile did. Pay-TV has the tools to fight back against OTT. I’m not saying that OTT is not going to win as a delivery mechanism eventually; I am saying that it’s easy to think that direct-to-consumer models is the new thing and the old thing – the other guys – are dead. They’re not, and they are going to fight hard around the content experience and serving their consumers better.

I think until OTT came along in force, there was a certain element of being untouchable of some of the Pay-TV leaders around the world. The lack of real competition meant that Pay-TV did not invest enough in customer service satisfaction, personalization, newer content or innovative services.

What the emergence of OTT has done, in the same way the Uber did to the taxi business, is to surface all these issues: high pricing, not-so-great interfaces, lack of personalization, lack of responsiveness to customers, lack of quality on-demand content, lack of digital capabilities to allow self-service’ or loyal customers not being rewarded. OTT also transformed the production model. When asked why he worked with Netflix on his recent ‘Our Planet’ series, Sir David Attenborough cited immediate access to a global audience who can view the content for at least six months. This is a very attractive proposition for content producers to exploit and sweat their assets at global scale.

What OTT did was not only take some value away, and show what great consumer experience looks like, but also surface that aggregation – Pay-TV’s basic content-centric model – is not good enough. I see many operators deploying consumer-centric strategies to improve their engagement with their consumers whether it is about content catalogue and presentation, customer service or empowering consumers with digital self-service digital tools.

So OTT is growing fast, but the question is, who is going to own that space of making sense out of it on behalf of consumers? How can consumers easily find out what’s out there to watch at 9pm on a Saturday? Presently they can spend 30 minutes looking for the right content to watch and that happens all the time. This will just increase as more offerings come on stream. Potentially Pay-TV operators can play this role of making sense of all the content available, and that’s why I think the big Pay-TV operators are not going away any time soon. If some will probably lose some value along the journey, there will be an opportunity for the most successful Pay-TV operators to continue to grow by focusing on transforming the digital consumer experience and making sense of the complexity using Oracle technologies.

Making sense of it all

Can the 66 OTT players in the US sustain? Is there enough subscription or advertising revenue to support them all?Not yet. And Disney + and Warner Media have not launched yet. There will be a lot of consolidation between the hundreds of OTT players who are popping up. You could argue it’s a bit like a hype, the same way there’s hype around any current blockchain startup that makes it more likely to get funding. We’re reaching the top of the OTT hype curve right now and there will be consolidation. Just think of the number of apps on your phone, and now imagine one for every OTT service. If there were an app for every piece of content you want to watch, this would be beyond us to know what’s out there.

Having an overview and method of sorting through everything that’s out there will be the sweet spot for Pay-TV operators, giving them a value proposition to enable them to charge their customers more. Comcast X1, for example, integrates the content catalogues of Amazon, Netflix and others as well as all the TV channels you subscribe to of course, so when you press the button and say ‘tennis’ or some series you want to watch, they will show you where to find it. Sky did a similar thing with Netflix about a year ago too. This is a new area for everyone – AI-driven search will be the key. This is a huge area of investment.

Staying ahead of the game by disrupting the disruptors

If you’re a Pay-TV operator and you do nothing, you will lose the battle; consumers will go somewhere else. So the direction for Pay-TV operators is
1. invest in OTT so they’re part of it, so they will disrupt the others and access new markets quickly and
2. a good balance between curated high quality content and AI driven content search – that’s what they’re good at.

Now back to Digital Home Service solution for Pay-TV operators

Know your customer

At this time of heightened data privacy, consumers still expect you to know them – “I give you my money, I expect you to know me and I’d like you to know what’s happening in my home. If there’s an issue with the transmission, I want you to know if it’s the dish, the cable, the STB or whatever.” It’s a world where we need to find the right balance between knowing everything and knowing enough to serve our customers better. Today in many cases, TV operators don’t know enough. It’s about capturing all those data points at different places in the digital home to be able to serve your customers quicker and better; and be pro-active in a thoughtful way. IOT can help with this by delivering immediate digital home data, coupled with predictive analytics, and acting upon it.

Empower your customer

Improving relationships with subscribers includes providing them with the tools to enable them to do things themselves. Instead of sending a field technician, a chatbot can help a customer set up a set-top box, with tests to check and validate. In case of an issue, a live remote agent on your mobile can remotely see you and your STB, but on another screen has access to your home data and show recommended actions to solve your particular problem remotely.

Get ahead of the game

It’s also critical to be able to know straight away if there’s a potential issue – a storm coming for example – and to send agents to that region from another quiet one to be on hand to react. It’s about being more efficient at managing your own resources, knowing then acting on it – informing your customer “something’s happened and we’re working on it and we have an appointment available in an hour if you can see us”. Operators can do this through phone alerts or chatbots – in Oracle DHS, we have messages within the app. As soon as the agent arrives, they will have access to all the information on the digital home – all the data points – as well as recommended fixes so will have the right parts to rectify the problem. Everyone wins.

Taking this one stage further, think about predicting issues. For example, what if a STB product manager could predict when boxes will fail, or do a health scan of all their boxes; is there a batch problem? And if you could understand that a STB is likely to fail in three months’ time, swap it now instead of waiting for the box to break down. Everyone wins again.

What’s next for your DHS Solutions?

Top of the roadmap is adding smart home services in DHS such as security or thermostat services enabled through the STB. This can add new revenues for TV operators – they’re losing revenues, so they need to bolster them from somewhere else. Consumers are spending more and more time at home, especially younger ones; millennials don’t go out so much and they have expectations for when they’re at home. The home gateway – the STB – would be the best place to target; they very likely trust their local Pay-TV provider more than some mega company on the other side of the planet. And if you have a box with an IoT bridge inside, you don’t need to buy a connecting bridge – it’s already there. For example, Free in France are pioneering home security cameras for 50 euros via their box. In conclusion, I encourage Pay-TV operators to try new models with consumers’ needs first in mind.

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