Column: The video ecosystem – the context of the media supply chain
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In the very first of this series of six articles, we started with the definition of the media supply chain. A (digital) media supply chain can be described as “any production and distribution workflow system where media files and their associated metadata needs to be managed based on the current business model.”
While siloed systems can be uncomplicated, they are, well – siloed. From the John Donne poem “No man is an island,” for media asset management systems came “No MAM is an island” and while the play on words might no longer work, the sentiment remains exactly the same for the media supply chain.
Whether you’re building out your media supply chain yourself, or working with a vendor or other partner to deliver a turnkey system, in order to maximize the productivity and/or efficiency of the system, it will need to be connected to other technologies or business processes.
We can refer to the applications, services and platforms that comprise and extend our media supply chain and the other systems it interfaces with as the ecosystem. More broadly, we can describe the video ecosystem as the processes and technology involved in the business of generating revenue from video or using video to enable other business.
If, for example, we can connect our media supply chain to our rights and scheduling system, from the rights we can anticipate incoming content, and potentially populate metadata — and from the schedule we can automate processes to ensure content is available on our playout server or at our headend when it needs to be. Conversely, metadata we generate and store in the media supply chain might be used to drive EPG (Electronic Program Guides) or recommendation engines at the scheduling and delivery points – that in turn may increase ratings or “downloads” and not only increase efficiency but also ROI.
Similarly, if we connect the media supply chain to our advertising inventory management and/or sales systems, we can integrate the planning of ad insertion into the media supply chain processes and/or use descriptive metadata in the media supply chain to automate the insertion of context-relevant commercials – the latter here also has the potential to drive additional revenue.
There are many other examples at other points in the content chain, for example in studio, location or even live production, around newsrooms, or other business process tools. However, one challenge commonly faced, both within the core elements of the media supply chain and in its connection to the rest of the content ecosystem, is that these connections and integrations require significant scoping and start-up costs. The result of this is that, while there is demonstrable ROI in these systems and connections, with the start-up effort that ROI can take quite some time to be realized. In an area of technology that is moving at such a fast pace as media is, that can present some perceived risk.
Cloud-based platforms are already helping to reduce those start-up costs and diminish that risk. With minimal initial investment, systems can be spun up and, especially in integrating other systems, sandbox and staging systems can be managed cost effectively.
With an eye to the future, there will be far greater emphasis on “fast start” and pre-integrated technologies that enable users to go from a blank sheet of paper to productive systems in a matter of hours or even minutes. This dramatically changes the risk profile of adopting new technologies and, in turn, should provide a base for faster and/or more innovation in this space.
However, people do business with people, so at the center of the ecosystem will always be the community. In a world where we will have the ability to build a system with little or no communication between customer and vendor, critical for the content ecosystem will be to have a hub for that community, empowering users and enabling knowledge exchange.
Explore more of The Media Supply Chain column series.