Understanding the Core Competencies of Media and Entertainment
By Nick Kereakos, VP, CTO & Head-Music Services, American Public Media Group
Scalability, Flexibility, and Security is Fundamental
In both News and Arts & Culture programming, there is the content we know about and plan for, and then there is the breaking news story or one-of-a-kind opportunity to which we have to react quickly. Media and entertainment technology systems must be scalable, flexible, and secure all at the same time, and that is never a simple puzzle to complete.
We approach this with a few guiding principles:
1. Always ensure reliability
2. Effectively scale systems and operations
3. Develop architecture that enables speed and agility to market
It is key for any media organization to clearly understand and decide what its core technical competencies are and must be. Focusing time, resources, and technical talent on innovating in broadcasting, social media, and digital and mobile content delivery is paramount. At the same time, it is important to enable the use of mobile and other newer technologies for reporters, journalists, producers and content creators in their daily work.
It is important is to clearly define what technical services and systems are not part of an organization’s core business. Technical resources and time are best spent on the tools and systems that are core to the audience service goals. Other systems (e.g., email, in APMG’s case) can be outsourced to a reputable provider.
Changing Role of CIOs
Cyber security and the ever-expanding opportunities for issues in and around this topic have made a great impact on my role and perspective. When systems in broadcast and media organizations are older than the existence of the smartphone, one has to take a close look at everything to ensure security is reliable. For example, almost every employee has a smartphone or tablet, and every guest coming into our various headquarters wants to use a guest network.
We have to provide reliable and up-to-date service and experiences to all of those people, but we have to do so safely. Ensuring network and asset security while also ensuring the Technology team is doubling down security matters is a larger and expanding part of my role.
Media and entertainment technology systems must be scalable, flexible, and secure all at the same time
Steering Technology for Enterprises
Great ideas can and often do come from surprising and unexpected parts of the organization. Enabling experimentation is a very important part of long term success, and I consider it my responsibility to enable and encourage new ideas and experimentation with my staff. Additionally, professional development and continuing education for staff and technical talent is critical. We encourage our teams to build their networks, attend professional meetings (virtual or in person), and learn from colleagues and competitors. When team members become stronger solution builders, communicators, technologists, and broadcasters–the end result is a more invested team and the outcomes are often more innovative.
Perpetual Connection of Devices with Cloud
Cloud computing has many benefits, with one of the largest being the immense benefit to our audiences. Because they are perpetually connected to their media devices, audiences can listen, read, watch and engage with our content in increasingly more and different ways.
It is hard to imagine our daily workflows today without utilizing cloud technologies. As a content producer, content distributor, and operator of radio stations we use cloud computing every minute of every day. Whether it’s through cloud-hosted email, cloud-hosted chat tools, or cloud-hosted collaboration and planning tools, we use private cloud systems to move and share segments of content within the company or to quickly distribute breaking news to our partner stations across the United States and in other parts of the world.
Our use of cloud technologies is not dissimilar to how IP technologies are the backbone of most media production and delivery systems today. The adoption was rapid, the flexibility and cost benefits are great, and the delivery mechanisms are fast. Cloud technology integration in production and delivery workflows is rapid and quickly becoming as commonplace and networked IP in production and media distribution facilities.
The Road Ahead Lies in Innovation
It has become a bit cliché, but we must set aside time for experimentation. That is easy to say (and harder to do in reality) but leaders in this industry need to take on that responsibility. Many times, the best outcomes our teams produce are processes, systems, or approaches that were built for one problem but turned out to be a better solution for 10 other projects already in place, so it helps foster continuous improvements. The added benefit to supporting experimentation and innovation is that most people find it personally satisfying and energizing.