I watch prediction articles come through from multiple sources and each year I have the same preamble thought:” Yeah, right…” There’s always customers or specific events that shape the view of how the industry will change. The reality, is that we should be focused on the underlying changes that will help drive what occurs in 2017. In my estimation, it’s more important to look at the change agents for the year so here’s my predictions of the change agents to watch in 2017.
Consumer management ease of use will continue to be demanded in the B2B market
There’s not a content owner out there doesn’t think that the management of a content catalog for their business should be as easy as the way they manage their Picasa/Mac Photos/Smugmug service for importing their photos and video - making them available to their friends and family. The issue in not the interface but the complexity that comes in managing branded content. Once you factor in the massive difference in size, quality, audio, rights, and multiple other factors it becomes clear that it’s still a tough putt to manage. That said, the advancement of cloud and ease to wrap management services around content will continue, allowing content owners to leverage their content in ways that were previously impossible due to the manual complexity behind the effort. The desired goal of “ingest once, use any” is a reality as cloud services make way for easier integrations to cloud centralized content to be accessed and leveraged by multiple service providers. The removal of the barrier of only one vendor controlling access to content and metadata will change the game. Content holders will become more comfortable expecting that a captioning, rights, formatting, and packaging solution has access to content for delivery. The removal of complexity will make it easier to enable revenue opportunities and embolden content holders.
The user-experience will continue to simplify with newer coding technologies that are cloud friendly and focused on improving the user-experience. As access increases and complexity decreases, the utility of content will continue to grow.
Keep an eye on Artificial Intelligence (AI)
There are several companies that are in the game of AI, and most have an active demo presence online for testing static images. I’ve spent time testing images in all the major players. I don’t believe the technology will find a foothold in a revenue generating model in 2017 as these services are at a stage where they provide high level concepts, not specific context which is key to meaningful search and discovery. The data provided today is too non-specific to provide any meaningful context to search and discovery. That said, large content owners need to pay attention and consider the opportunity this will generate by adding context to their content without the cost of human resources. Content holders may consider adoption of AI technologies in 2017 to help establish the top-level components of a taxonomy or first pass analysis of content to perhaps provide a level screening or cataloging prior to involving a human interface. Content will need specific context provided by curation resources in the short term - but the structure will start to eliminate some costs.
Digital media groups will continue to gain more power over broadcast, and leverage more cloud
It’s no secret that the digital media organizations within large content holders are no longer considered “special projects” or “stovepipe development.” They are powerful teams that are receiving more and more focus from executives internally as they drive new endeavors in the business. The future holds more creation and delivery of short form content as well as an increasing number of consumer endpoints. This is not to say that broadcast organizations are going away…they will however continue to differentiate themselves more from digital media by continuing to improve the quality of original long-form content. They will also begin to experiment using infrastructure in the cloud to supplement aging equipment. The challenge will be on production companies that are providing content to the major content holders as they will find that there are more and more derivative works that they need to delivery under a single title
The march to convert the archive will continue based on better decisions and options
I’ve had many discussions with studios and content holders on how to migrate from a physical archive into a forward-looking digital strategy. Much like bad news, the cost and process for digitization doesn’t get better with age as certain formats are simply becoming near impossible due to shortages of digitization infrastructure and the fragility of the material. That said, the incentives to establish a digital only policy continue to improve and its worth a hard look by corporate executives on the economic advantages. More content holders in 2017 will decide it is indeed time to switch to a cloud managed model for content aggregation and management for new, incoming content.
They are going to find that the costs associated with up front vetting of content on what should be kept, curated, ingested, and monetized is far more efficient than staring at shelves/pallets of LTOs/HDDs wondering how much value is sitting that material.
At some point, the Indiana Jones warehouse of content buildup needs to be stopped.
The ease of leveraging cloud technologies in the media space will continue to be a game changer reaching further into the content supply chain. Imagine you own the rights to a show that generates a large amount of desirable content. As a content owner, you own the all the outtakes and b-roll from the show; some of this can generate revenue for short form projects and footage licensing. The challenge is hundreds if not thousands of hours of content have been delivered to you in the form of physical media with limited metadata. While cloud ingest sounds expensive for this content, what ought to be considered are the costs incurred by the constant buildup of this material and the manual efforts incurred each time anyone tries to sift through it to leverage something they remember and think would be perfect for a new project.
Now place this scenario in the cloud. First, transition your process to a completely digital transfer to the cloud removing the physical media scenario and its headaches. Once content arrives in the cloud, you will leverage services for automated quality control analysis and AI to determine a first pass on content that should be deleted without human intervention. This process uses automation to greatly reduce the content to review for value. Rules such as static shots, color outside acceptable range, jitter detection, and others can automatically delete unwanted content from any further investment of time or money. The remaining content will have basic metadata applied by leveraging AI to help your team catalog and identify content with revenue potential. As AI and business logic mature, the need for humans managing this process will reduce over time. Companies will achieve the goal of no longer adding to the giant warehouse of physical media making the digitization of the historical archive an attainable goal.