Media – a dual history with a unified future
The media industry has always had a dual history, with art on the one hand and technology on the other. As media technology has evolved, it has always had a direct impact both on what is produced and how it is consumed.
Just take a writer like Dickens. His novels were written to be serialized a month at a time, with each episode being exactly 32 pages. This formula wouldn’t have been possible a hundred years earlier, just because it depended, for example, on railways for distribution; for a large enough proportion of the population who could both read and afford a shilling a month to buy the next instalment; on innovation in print-finishing; and much else besides.
That’s all ancient history now. But this duality still exists and the ways in which people create news coverage and entertainment, and the technologies we use both to create and consume are intimately connected. Just think, for example, about how i-Phone movie making is now crossing the boundary between home-movies and professional reportage.
Right now, there is also a second duality to consider. Not only is media history about creative and technology skills: it’s also about the disappearing boundaries between IT and broadcast specialists.
Until relatively recently, the broadcast technologists had their own dedicated point-to-point SDI networks; their own specialized hardware and software; and, of course, their own specialist skills and language.
The IT tribe had a different background and a different focus. Until recently, the IT tribe did mainly back office functions such as payroll, accounting, procurement – all the fun stuff.
But now, as we all know, the rules have changed.
Now that IP network distribution is overtaking SDI, IT skills and technologies have become critical to the core business of broadcast: making, managing and monetizing creative content.
New skills, new perspectives
These new IT media skills are highly sought-after.
Media companies need to find people with strong technology skills, particularly around IT/IP, but also with a deep understanding of how media works operationally. Partners need to understand the KPIs used to measure business process efficiency in media; they need to understand service performance and quality; and, ultimately, they must be skilled in managing change from a technological, organizational and cultural standpoint.
The focus is wide.
IT teams within the media industry need to address the many issues of continuity and integration; of process change; and new management and partnership models. They also need to develop a whole new area of competence in cyber-security.
Whilst in other sectors, such as, financial services, defense and aerospace, organizations have been refining their cyber-security models for years, in media, progress has not been quite so advanced. Now that the balance is swinging in favor of IP networks as the primary media distribution and access channels, this is beginning to change.
This change is not just about protecting content assets, or at least guarding against unauthorized usage. It’s not even about ensuring that the confidentiality of millions of registered customers is respected. It’s about securing the wider infrastructure itself. When hackers can now power down an electricity network by targeting the operation and machine control network, they can do the same to a media enterprise.
When your customers expect the same uninterrupted performance and quality from their news and entertainment providers as they do from their electricity services, the media companies need the same levels of protection.
The good news for media companies is that they don’t need to reinvent the wheel: they can leverage tools and best practices that have already shown their value in mission-critical scenarios in other industries.
Follow our next articles as part of “IT in Media” Blog series for NAB 2018