Dalet’s approach to managing unprecedented levels of change

By Stephane Schlayen, Dalet

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The events of the first half of this year have exposed us to a brutal truth, which is that our industry has to change, and quickly. Changing as fast and as far as we had to was in some ways painful, but it also gave us an opportunity to transform and prepare for what will most likely be a different future for us all.

Dalet has been working on digital-first and cloud-based solutions for several years, so from the very beginning of the pandemic we were able to help our customers quickly. Here’s how we did it, and what our priorities were along the way.

Prioritize the partnership with your customers

Now that we’re no longer at the start of the crisis, we are beginning to understand it better, and we know how the world is responding to it. This is a good vantage point to reimagine our products and services. We also need to set our priorities, and the biggest by far is to look after our customers and our commercial partners. There is fidelity, consistency and reliability in our relationships. Customers like the BBC, Mediaset, VOA and many others have been with us for a decade or more. The longevity has built confidence that they can depend on us to continue their evolutions and expansions, such as RTV Slovenia who has used Dalet radio solutions for more than 25 years and is now upgrading their entire video news platform to Dalet. It is an essential modernization of their newsroom capabilities and it’s taking place during COVID-19.

We have approached the COVID-19 crisis in a way that strengthens our relationships. We are both logical and emotional and are prioritizing our customer needs. Empathy with other human beings is essential to our future as we evolve into new shapes and forms alongside our customers and partners.

Time is of the essence

The nature and the scale of the crisis called for a rapid response. The impact of the virus was immediate and decisive. People had to stay at home, and they had to keep working. We had been working on mobility for years and were able to help clients all over the world, like Telefe in Argentina, France Télévisions in France, and Metro TV in Indonesia.

Dalet was in a good position to respond quickly to the crisis because it had at its core a digital-first structure, not just in its technology and products, but in its organization too. It meant that we started out close to having a solution ready to go. We already had cloud-supported workflows, remote working and responsive 24/7 support worldwide.

Customers that needed to set up their users to work from home were able to get up and running within days, sometimes within hours, thanks to the flexibility at the core of our technology. We even packaged a solution – Dalet Galaxy xCloud – within a few weeks of the crisis erupting, as an immediate response to our customers’ requirements for business continuity. Dalet customers needed to continue working remotely and with minimum disruption.

Here’s a bit more detail about that solution.

Dalet Galaxy xCloud

Dalet Galaxy xCloud is our response to the urgent need for bringing the critical essence of content production and news workflows into the home. It is a full-featured version of the latest Dalet Galaxy five platform and leverages cloud infrastructure to allow end-to-end remote news production.

It is also integrated with media companies’ on-premises Dalet Galaxy systems and supports advanced proxy editing workflows, mixing content from the production facility with remote content. Proxy content is cached locally to make the user experience fluid. Rendering is offloaded to the Dalet Galaxy xCloud system to minimize delays and allow news to break faster.

Users edit with Dalet OneCut, Dalet’s fast-paced multimedia editing solution, which integrates with the Dalet Galaxy five platform in the cloud. The system works smoothly as all media databases are synchronized, whether at a remote workstation, in the cloud or on-premises.

Be open. Be transparent.

In a crisis, effective communication is essential. We need to be transparent with our employees, customers and partners. We need to make sure we explain what we are doing and why we are doing it. We want our employees, customers, partners and the industry as whole to understand that we are working for them, to keep them in business, to help develop their agility and make them more resilient. In short, to be able to function well in difficult circumstances.

So we have changed the way we communicate, giving it a higher priority with digital initiatives like Dalet Connect, our virtual space for presentations, demonstrations and meetings. People expect this. This is especially so now that the major trade shows have been cancelled or postponed. With no physical meetings possible for an indeterminate period into the future, we have quickly become used to talking together though screens, and Dalet Connect serves as the new medium for interactions.

Opportunity

Amidst all of the difficulties and hardships caused by the COVID-19 crisis, there is optimism and opportunity. This is a chance for companies who are willing to react quickly to transform, adapt and possibly become even better and stronger. Dalet was already focused on changing many of the tools that we offer to our customers and evolving our organization too.

It’s well known that we are on a roadmap that takes our business model from perpetual CAPEX investment to subscription and SaaS investments. And from software on local hardware to cloud-based infrastructure. We see this as an opportunity to seize and to use it to transform the way we imagine our products, and how we move quickly towards agility and mobility. And of course, we need to embrace the move towards “intelligent” and “actionable” data, which will lead to all kinds of optimizations and major transformation for so many people: our users, our customers, our partners.

We also see this as an opportunity for new, value-added partnerships with technology vendors to deliver more value to our customers. Just recently we integrated with Bitmovin to improve OTT preparation and delivery. The technology partnership, which features the advanced media logistics of Dalet’s Ooyala Flex Media Platform and Bitmovin’s blazing fast encoder technology, player and analytics, enables customers to expand existing offerings into new markets and geographies at scale; launch new services such as VOD, apps and subscriptions; and augment revenue opportunities thanks to better visibility across production and distribution operations.

From Digitization to Virtualization

Looking back, it’s become clear that there have been two distinct periods in the history of Dalet. For the first, very successful twenty years, we essentially pioneered media asset management for TV and Radio.

Over the last ten we have significantly evolved this concept to encompass the entire content supply chain. We developed advanced media logistics and orchestration platforms with a number of capabilities, integrations and emphases. All that time we were helping our customers to optimize the way they produced content and built their media supply chain.

As we move forward to a third revolutionary phase which is the pinnacle of our cloud capabilities, we pivot our business model to expand subscription and SaaS-based offerings. It was always going to happen, but now, it’s fast becoming the norm for media companies who are more focused on OPEX budgets. As for the technology transformation, for years, the media industry has been slow to adopt cloud technology, but recent events have made it clear that virtualization is essential when it comes to dealing with rapid change – and when it comes to seizing new opportunities as they arise.

Meanwhile, at Dalet, we have been preparing for this (r)evolution: we have been working on major cloud and SaaS-driven initiatives. We acquired a fully cloud-based supply chain solution, the Ooyala Flex Media Platform, which is now allowing us to help a wider range of clients in more market segments move into remote media workflows that are resilient and crisis-proof.

Three areas of transformation

Our major transformation, accelerated by the COVID-19 crisis, has three components, each essential to the future of our company and to our customers: mobility, agility and flexibility.

Yet, this is not a totally new direction for Dalet; it is the culmination of years of engineering and innovation to support our clients’ evolution. As an example, ABC News in the US has been embracing new technologies geared towards mobility like Bonded Cellular, which they see as a primary way to get contributions into the studio. Alongside this, they’ve been using Dalet WebSpace, hosted on AWS. It’s perfect for remote workflows and it shows the degree to which we’re committed to providing cloud-based solutions.

Inside the company, we are working on a number of initiatives around organization, the way we appear to the rest of the world, and the way we work internally.

The most important thing that we’ve learned in our thirty-year history is that we need to constantly adapt. You simply have to. You can’t resist this absolute necessity if you want your company and its ecosystem to thrive and generate sustainable value.

Darwin was not only right scientifically, but prescient, even to today, when he said:

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to changes.”

About Stephane Schlayen, Dalet

Stephane Schlayen is the Chief Operating Officer at Dalet. With strategic oversight of sales, marketing, services and operations, Stephane has helped grow Dalet by more than 300% since taking the helm in 2005. A technology-savvy business leader, Stephane has spearheaded the introductions of bold transformative media management solutions and the successful acquisitions of companies such as AmberFin, Gruppo TNT, and most recently the Ooyala Flex Media Platform business. During his 20-plus year career with Dalet, Stephane helped pioneer the industry-wide adoption of Dalet’s groundbreaking media asset management and workflow orchestration platforms, transforming the broadcast, news, sport and enterprise media landscape. Under Stephane’s stewardship, Dalet continues its expansion to offer innovative content supply chain solutions and user-friendly tools that define today’s media logistics and management technology used to propel collaborative media workflows for brands, media companies and enterprises around the world. A graduate of CentraleSupélec, Stephane and his family reside in Paris, France.