Future-proofing your media supply chain: The cloud is key to success from now on

By Dan Goman, Ateliere

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A cloud-native, integrated content supply chain is critical for any company to succeed in today’s fiercely competitive landscape, where profit is the main measure of success. Choosing the right technology partners will help your business move fast and remain competitive.

If we were to ask any successful company about their superpower, most would likely say “speed.” In the current business landscape, constant change is a given and the ability to adapt quickly, essential. Making the right technology choices so that your business can move fast is key to survival.

This is even more pressing for companies in the ever-shifting media landscape, where content owners, streaming services (large and small), social media platforms and long-time broadcasters all vie for a piece of an extremely disputed audience pie. A recent Bloomberg report went as far as stating that “media companies are having their worst year in three decades” and that “investors are freaked out about the state of the entertainment business.”

It’s no secret that competition for viewers and subscriber retention has reached new heights. Great content helps attract new viewers but retaining them is what matters — and that can only happen when you truly understand your customer viewing habits and provide them with the right content to keep them by your side.

But what’s technology got to do with this? So much. Let me tell you why.

The broken media supply chain

With major shifts in video consumption habits, customer demand has forced broadcast and streaming companies to change their production and distribution models. This brings business challenges that then turn into technology challenges. If your existing technology does not serve the needs of the business, then you have a problem.

Legacy media companies today are repositioning themselves as streaming-first providers, but unless they modernize and optimize their technology back-ends, they will struggle to compete, as it’s plain to see today.

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In our experience working with media companies who want to stay ahead of the curve, they need to focus on the following challenges:

  • Changing consumer viewing habits, across a wide range of devices and locations, and the relentless growth of content consumption, including both new content and repurposed for digital platforms.
  • Time-to-market has been squashed: whether the business is producing or licensing new content, or reusing existing content for streaming, it needs to be delivered at lightning speed.
  • The traditional, on-premises, siloed approach to video production and distribution, with each step of the media supply chain happening within its own operational island, is now inadequate. A disconnected, poorly integrated supply chain delivers content to the consumer very inefficiently and cannot respond quickly enough to changing demands, to the detriment of the business.

To add fuel to the fire, there’s been a major shift recently in the streaming service landscape: streaming platforms are now expected to show a profit. With entertainment stocks retreating further than the general market, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s comment on a recent earnings call brings this point home: “Profitability, not purely sub count, is our benchmark for success.”

Investors, executives and stakeholders have little patience for inefficiency and technology experiments that just bleed money and no results. Bringing a tangible return-on-investment is key now. Time to rethink the disconnected supply chain.

What is an integrated supply chain and why should you care?

Going back to the success superpower: To evolve with speed, any company needs to connect the dots across all of its traditional fragmented silos. An integrated supply chain connects each process and each team, so that data flows smoothly to deliver continued, uninterrupted content workflows for an exquisite customer experience.

In the business of producing content, this should start at content ideation, through capture, packaging and distribution, flowing efficiently to the consumer. Gathering key data across the chain is key to making strategic improvements quickly and often.

Cloud infrastructure enables this connectivity through speed, flexibility and centralization. When we talk about a unified global supply chain that’s cloud-centric and cloud-native, we also refer to the implementation of advanced services that enable the retention of customers — for any business.

These are the key benefits of implementing a content supply chain in the cloud:

  • Operational islands are connected through a proactive technology platform that allows the business to pivot based on their needs.
  • The business back-end and user experience front-end are integrated, enabling a better customer journey that increases retention.
  • Actionable data is gathered and analyzed meaningfully, so that you can understand your viewers’ habits (what they watch, when, where, on what devices). This data is critical to developing content recommendation strategies to retain your audience.
  • Competitive advantage: given the dynamic nature of the industry, where one day you’re offering just SVOD and the next day, you need to roll out AVOD, the right technology infrastructure becomes your business enabler.

In other words, you’ll have a better handle on your consumer, allowing you to run your content warehouse more efficiently and deliver the goods (i.e., the right content) to the right viewers, at the right time on their preferred devices, across any geography — when they’re ready to buy. Think Walmart-style supply chain applied to content.

A truly global, integrated supply chain in the cloud will introduce time and dollar savings through efficiency, help reduce churn, and increase overall profit.

That sounds great — but how do you make it happen?

In 2023 and beyond, media organizations need to plan for and quickly implement their business transformation to be competitive in this fast-and-furious industry.

Attempting to renew your content supply chain by investing on a lengthy, labor-intensive, lift-and-shift in-house project that requires hiring dozens of new technical staff does not make sense. A project of this scale could take several years to yield benefits, while market dynamics have no tolerance for multi-year, multi-million dollar projects; results are expected fast. Plus by the end of your project, if indeed it is ever “complete,” your competitors will have charged ahead!

Trying to justify your own data center, plus associated overheads, and keep up, or (gasp!) compete, with the advancements in cloud services is not a wise business strategy. On the other hand, not leveraging cloud computing is a major liability.

A more effective approach is to partner with a technology company that has experience moving content supply chains to the cloud, with the right cloud infrastructure and integrations already in place to get you going quickly and efficiently. Workflows can be gradually transitioned and extended organically in the cloud in a way that serves immediate business needs first.

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When moving your content supply chain from an on-premises installation to an integrated cloud infrastructure, you’ll need to consider:

  1. Where’s your content today? Often distributed across different physical locations, this is a time-consuming, logistical challenge. Whereas it takes time to centralize your content in the cloud, we work with our clients to apply automated migration strategies, based on content needs.
  2. Where’s your metadata? You’d be surprised to learn how often content does not have associated metadata — perhaps in a spreadsheet somewhere, or lost through multiple storage generations. It pays off to audit your metadata and be prepared to re-index your content. AI can greatly help with this.
  3. Once you are clear about points 1 and 2, you need to consider how you package it all together and distribute it efficiently based on your content providers, audience needs and business drivers.

A strong partner has experience in the planning process and can recommend best practices for your transition to an integrated content supply chain in the cloud.

Obviously, all this work needs to be done with ROI in mind: your investors and/or management will want to see quick results. The business is going to suffer if you cannot have an integrated content supply chain in a matter of days or weeks (rather than years). Leveraging the experience and off-the-shelf tools offered by cloud service providers will save you time and money. Imagine for a moment having to develop the integration for all your different vendor platforms in-house, versus deploying existing, proven APIs — hundreds of hours saved.

Your goal should be to prove ROI and its projection quickly and often, in terms of efficiency, output and dollars.

The time to future-proof your business is now

The main drivers for technology decisions today are consumer demands and profitability, and this can only be achieved with streamlined, integrated supply chains and increasing efficiencies.

As a result, M&A and consolidation will continue across the media landscape, especially when companies do not have the right content supply chain in place to keep up with viewer demands. If you’re a technology decision-maker you should be thinking about future-proofing your business now so that it’s ready to deal with the growth of a merger or acquisition. How will you handle petabytes of new content, take on the subscriber base, distribute globally, and integrate all the legacy systems?

Are you in a position to do all this quickly? More and more, businesses are realizing the huge cost burden of acquiring companies and not integrating them properly into their core business, ending with inefficient and overlapping systems and teams. At a time when business is looking to save money and become profitable, this is of huge importance.

Additionally, market expansion will be essential: Content creators need to be ready to enter new markets globally. Do you have the infrastructure in place to deliver 30,000 different versions of the same movie? That is a real example from one of our clients due to the differing localization, audio, subtitles and compliance needs. When you have the right infrastructure in place, capable of collecting data from your consumers and pivoting quickly based on viewer trends, you are future-proofing your business.

If your company doesn’t want to enlarge the list of financial losses that have been public over the last couple of years, you should be implementing a global, unified, integrated supply chain in the cloud now. Partner with the right technology provider who invests in modern technology and gives you access to the right tools and talent, so that your company can focus on its core business — delight its audiences cheaper, better… with speed.

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About
Dan Goman, Ateliere
Dan Goman is the founder and CEO of Ateliere Creative Technologies, an entertainment technology business that originated as a content company before breaking into SaaS. The son of two immigrant parents who sought political asylum in the United States after expressing dissent towards the communist government in their native Romania, Goman used his intuition and technological acumen to help media companies such as Microsoft, Lucent Technologies and AT&T Wireless advance their technology before trying his hand at entrepreneurship.

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