EIDR: Technology is Helping, Hindering Workflow in Production

As the media and entertainment industry continues its digital transformation, technology is, in some ways, both helping and hindering workflow in production.

What can only help is more standardization and never losing sight of the need for a human touch when dealing with end-users internally, and clients and fans externally, according to Will Kreth, executive director of the Entertainment ID Registry (EIDR).

There’s “value that’s added by people agreeing on a set of principles that makes sense for all the different players” involved, he said July 25 during a panel session called “Discover, Build, Measure and UX: Digital Transformation 2.0” at the Smart Content Summit East event, part of the Media & Entertainment (M&E) Day. “Universal IDs are not just nice to have — they’re a must-have and the path to the future,” he said.

The event’s closing session looked at how technology is helping and hindering workflow in production where content is also being produced for linear TV, online, mobile and publishing. Technology and marketing leaders are collaborating to ensure the best user experience, but there are challenges in measurement and how the industry will transform through technology collaboration, Kreth and other panelists noted.

His organization is sharing knowledge with its members on what EIDR is about, as well as “how to interface with us and how to bring well-formatted data into our world,” he said, adding that, while “trying to better connect with our audiences, we are both using newer technologies for our new tech platform we’re working on now and also fully cognizant and aware that we have to have a human element to all of it.”

One other challenge is that it’s hard for any organization to forecast in any given quarter what the latest and greatest technology will be next year, moderator Mary Yurkovic, director of smart content for the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA), noted. The best place to start is with your internal end users when it comes to an organization’s digital transformation, she said.

At education publishing company Pearson, there’s “a partnership with the leaders from the different groups” of the organization that is in place, according to James Cooney, its director of software engineering. Because it’s a company that came out of a publishing background, “they have print workflows that are really burned in and have a lot of efficiencies, so we want to take those efficiencies – and they don’t map one-to-one to the digital transformation space – [and] really utilize them and make it a partnership,” he said, adding: “We’ve been fortunate. The leadership of the digital studios groups are really on board with these changes that we’re looking to make.”

Right now, it’s “definitely throughput, volume and storage [that] are big things for us,” he said, adding: “We’re constantly keeping track of how much storage we’re using in each location as we’re migrating things out of legacy archives. It’s really important to have those metrics because especially as you start to move more into the cloud and you start to move more into” Software-as-a-Service (SaaS)-based tools, “you have to be aware of what the costs are going to be associated with those because they start shifting from these big capital projects that we’re funding every few years to subscriptions we’re paying every month…. Knowing what you’re getting into and knowing how to plan for that is super important to help identify as you’re going through all those projects.”

Asked about the challenge involved in convincing people to change, he said: “My experience has been that people will adopt change when they have to kind of reluctantly. But the real value we’ve been able to see in some areas is providing opportunity for innovation.”

“Silos are always going to be a challenge” to go across, he went on to say. “There’s not going to be a magic bullet for that,” he conceded. But he said: “Actually being able to sort of enable better innovation and an actual better experience for the end student or instructor — that’s where I think you can really make a difference. Because if you just speed things up, or make things a little bit cheaper, that’s good for the company. It’s good for the company’s bottom line. We want to do that. But we really want to make the actual end experience really differentiating in a meaningful way.”

The internal clients of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, meanwhile, are people who try to help public media through different means, Maciej Ochman, its director of media technology and service strategies, noted. He needs to explain what’s happening on the technology side “so they can make the best educated decisions where to invest their time and money to help our customers in a sense,” which he said include PBS, NPR and their member stations.

“I think if you enable people to contribute and you recognize this, they have a personal stake in the work and, if you trust their intelligence and help them understand why things are done, you are going to have really great cooperation and help from the teams,” he told attendees.

Asked to predict what’s going to happen in 2020 on the technology front, he responded “I think that there are a lot of things going on that are happening really fast and that is the convergence of different technologies through certain technological solutions.”

Noting that “we have been talking about” over-the-top (OTT) services “constantly,” he said that’s the biggest thing now, adding: “With the new ATSC 3.0 over-the-air technology, which is also IP-stack based … if we thought that we ever had very complicated media workflows,” we are about to get much more complicated media workflows and “blockchain will not help us.” Add to the mix the fact that, “next year, you have 5G coming in with a new television standard, [ATSC] 3.0,” he pointed out.

“This is a brave new world and we’ll have many more challenges, so it’s very easy for us to get lost – especially the human side,” he said, explaining: “Everybody wants to feel relevant. So I think we have a lot to do, not only in grasping the meaning for our future businesses with the new technologies but also how to properly treat one another when implementing those new technologies for good business outcomes,” he said.

The 2018 M&E Day, which also included Content Protection Summit East conference tracks, was produced by MESA, in association with the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), the Hollywood IT Society (HITS) and the Smart Content Council, and was presented by Microsoft, with sponsorship by Akamai, BTI Studios, Independent Security Evaluators, LiveTiles, MarkLogic, RSG Media, ThinkAnalytics, Amazon Web Services, EIDR, the Trusted Partner Network (TPN) and Richey May Technology Solutions.