In just a few days, 14 of us from the Wazee Digital team will head to Las Vegas for the 2017 NAB Show, and a few more will join us throughout next week. For those who are not familiar, the NAB Show is put on by the National Association of Broadcasters and is the world's largest electronic media show covering the creation, management, and delivery of content across all platforms. This show brings in people from every part of the media and entertainment industry, including broadcast, digital media, film, postproduction, live events, reality, and more. Being in the M&E industry never fails to yield some of the most interesting opportunities and discussions.
For us, NAB is much less about the “show floor” and more about fostering meaningful conversations. We take meeting requests from our clients, partners, media, analysts, and prospective clients, and we request meetings with others. We host events and intimate gatherings for our network off the convention grounds and simply observe the show floor – all of which allow further conversations and meetings to happen organically.
I think we can all reel off some buzzkills … er … buzzwords that we expect to hear at NAB, regardless of relevance. Words like cloud, digital, 4K, workflow, revenue streams, live streaming, next generation, and plenty more. Most of us will find ourselves saying them. (If not, then we probably shouldn’t be at that show!)
What I’m curious about is this: What change agents will be present at NAB? My colleague Jack Wenzinger wrote a fantastic blog on this topic at the beginning of the year called “Change Agents to Watch in 2017,” and I’ve been thinking about how his blog might align – or not – with some of the themes at NAB. I asked him if his observations had changed since he wrote the blog post and what he was interested in at NAB. He commented on a few:
The ease of leveraging cloud technologies in the media space will continue to be a game-changer
This year, you’re going to see just about every company say it is “in the cloud.” The great news for content owners is that the journey to the cloud has started for everyone. In a couple years, the service landscape will offer great integrated content solutions that connect your internal 8K workflow to enterprise-cloud-management architecture. But one note of caution to content owners: Not all cloud services are the same, because the road to the cloud can be long and winding! Applications can be moved into the cloud quite easily, but converting the services to leverage all the benefits that come with being in the cloud — like auto-scaling and elasticity, applications as a service, etc. — requires a massive coding effort. If you’re wondering what that means and why it’s important, then read the post “Cloud Is a Journey.”
Keep an eye on Artificial Intelligence (AI)
AI is progressing fast and will likely be a game-changer for several content service providers. AI will allow better cataloging and contextualization of content — a process that will improve the overall utility of content and create bigger demand for implementing a digital management strategy. The emergence of AI aggregators will be huge in this space. AI companies are honing their algorithms and improving the overall ability to automate content metadata and processes. The advantage to content owners will come by way of interfacing to aggregators of these services. As it’s too early to bet on a single pony, a good move is to start testing and cast a wide net when considering AI options.
Consumer-management ease of use will continue to be in high demand in the B2B market
In my blog, “Change Agents to Watch in 2017,” I commented on the demand for simpler user experiences in B2B services and enterprise tools. The industry is moving fast in this direction. Management interfaces are enabling simple search and access capabilities by obfuscating the complexities of search metadata behind the scenes. People are using services like file acceleration and transcoding behind the scenes to eliminate the need to install clients and call the various services separately. Hats off to both Signiant and Aspera for continuing to evolve their service stacks to leverage network connections naturally. Other media services are following suit, so the question is, which ones will continue to make large-scale content easier to manage?
It’s always fun to watch how the demand for higher-quality content challenges the established tenants of the industry: management, processing, bandwidth, and storage. We’ll see which topics drive this NAB: which ones are hot, which ones are not – and which ones we didn’t see coming. (We’ll be writing about those post-NAB.)