Three Media – Driving towards business agility

Three Media – Driving towards business agility

IABM Journal

Representing Broadcast & Media Technology Suppliers Worldwide
Articles covering a range of key topics and themes
In depth analysis of the latest trends

Three Media – Driving towards business agility

Thu 05, 10 2023

Three Media – Driving towards business agility

David Radoczy, COO, Three Media

I think it is safe to start from the assumption that every media business is moving from a smokestack approach – a production line of bespoke, application specific devices – to a software-defined, cloud smart architecture. This will include large elements of intelligent automation, eliminating the mundane to let people concentrate on where they generate real business value.

We are all more or less pleased by this.

But the move to IP and all it enables from seamless, global connectivity, easy integration and virtualised platforms is not the whole opportunity, it is an enabler. Business agility depends on fresh thinking and a change in the DNA of so many of our operating assumptions. This is much more than just another technology refresh. It is about how to manage and continually evolve the critical operating parts of your business:  technology, operations, vendor relations, financial structures and customer offerings; not as unique independent concerns but five interdependent and highly connected levers.

The shift from capex to opex is frequently cited as one of the major changes that the software revolution has brought about. The benefit here is not just how CFO’s treat the expense but consider in-sourcing or outsourcing, hosting options and infrastructure, software maintenance and new levels of vendor engagement this can allow.  Then consider how this is all bundled up for a customer proposal and the flexibility and service options that are then available.  You can get the functionality and capacity you need, when you need it and only pay for what you use. You can scale up or down as required – a virtualised operating model.

A simple example, a post house might in the past standardise on one vendor’s edit software. Now, if three different edit applications are appropriate for the productions going through your facility, then license those three applications. Turn them on and off when you need to. It is as easy as that if you’ve shifted your operating structures and have your core services in place, geared for an IP and cloud enabled operating model. Consider the right orchestration service and data flow design and management – it is not traditional, but it is real operating agility.

Self service

The nature of legacy technology made agility impossible. You need an SDI router; you identify the vendors who have the right number of inputs and outputs and resilience. Then you forget them for years until you need a new router or need to expand. There is no opportunity to scale back and cut costs or commitment.

In this new world of picking applications as we need them, the vendor relationship is transformed. At home, we are perfectly comfortable with a self-service model. If we need an application, we find it, download it and license it.

We can do this in the professional environment, too. Plenty of vendors are now offering flexible licensing, which is the foundation of business agility but in a commercial and operating context, you have to think slightly differently.

Imagine winning the contract to post produce a nature series, to be shot over two years in multiple locations in four seasons. You need a powerful production asset management system, so you identify suitable software, download and pay for it. You will need technical expertise, but do you employ staff or take advantage of the vendor’s professional services; consider this across multiple clients, each with a tailored solution.  Consider scaling from five edit seats this week and 500 next.  How do you redefine your business and key value proposition?

The relationship between vendor and media company has to become agile. Vendors have to shift from securing large contracts to making functionality available through self-service portals, and providing reassurance that software tools will be supported in new and innovative ways on terms that help us all grow.

This isn’t revolutionary. Vendors are already realising that the future lies in core platforms and flexible licensing, but it is an operating approach that needs to be pushed to the boundaries of what it can enable.

All these opportunities are out there, ready to be exploited, today. What is the right operational and commercial model for your business, for your productions, for your clients? Defining that means a lot of lateral thinking, and a conscious moving away from “the way we’ve always done it”. It means continual reinvention and to compete at the leading edge of our industry.

“The cloud”

Over the last few years there has been much talk about “the cloud”. The result is a mindset that every facility will hand its technology platform over to AWS or Azure, in exchange for a hefty subscription.

That is not the best way to think about it. The underlying tenet of a cloud-enabled operation is not about where it is hosted. An IP-connected, software-defined media architecture can exist on hardware in your machine room or the public cloud.

The point of this new connectivity and architecture is that you connect into the content and functionality wherever and whenever you need it. The technology, services and systems needed are being commoditised, and pricing structures and solutions are being transformed.

To be truly agile you need to define a technology stack where you invest in core, critical, business defining technologies – the rest is treated as a commodity. If you are a cloud-enabled business don’t allow how you have done it, to define how you are going to do it.  Don’t just migrate, blue-sky your optimal operating solution and transform your workflows and processes and leverage the cloud opportunity.

Consider web3 (as we will web4 and web5) and the new service principles it introduces – decentralised architectures, data ownership and control and ‘trustless’ web exchanges. This is another game-changer but if you only see the one-off cost of a server against a monthly subscription then you may be missing something your competitors don’t.

Consider a European linear and OTT broadcaster, buying a US drama series. Rights negotiations are complex, settlement and payments unfold over time and content is delivered on tape and facilities need to comply with onerous security protocols. The broadcaster will store their copy with all the added complexity and cost of media management.

With web3, the broadcaster would never need to host the content as subscribers access it from the content producers web3 storage cloud as does the broadcaster.  Access is via a token, an NFT and the contract is retained in a blockchain where all parties have access and it is where all rights windows, runs and viewing figures are consolidated. Payments are tracked and access is denied once the terms of the licence expire and opened when renewed. Scratch the surface a little deeper and new operating model opportunities and commercial benefits start to gain critical mass and grow.

These are just some glimpses of the way that media businesses can be transformed by seizing on the inherent agility of the technology that is available today. The technology is just the enabler. Becoming, and staying, a successful media business depends upon agility, on finding the best, the most efficient way to serve your clients and audiences. The technology is ready: to seize the opportunities we just have to think different.

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