Industry Stories

It’s Time to Digitize the Media Supply Chain

Media and Entertainment (M&E) companies such as studios, broadcasters, music and pay TV providers are primarily in the business of content production and distribution. They often suffer from a fragmented supply chain with different companies handling the creative, management and technology aspects of the content they produce/distribute.

The trend in the industry is to move to an intelligent media supply chain that capitalizes on AI and automation to facilitate creative collaboration, enable production on an industrial scale, and monetize customer relationships. This is a strategic transformation that cuts across technology, process and organizational change.

This transformation involves focus and prioritization on several key functions. The creation of any content, especially when it involves video and audio, is extremely data intensive. A single movie is likely to take up several terabytes. For a long time, digital technologies were simply not evolved enough to handle such humungous volumes. It is only in the recent past that computing, storage and broadband speeds have developed to cater to these requirements. Besides, media is a niche industry that requires specialized tools, which either did not evolve or started to evolve fairly recently.

With technological advances, the time is ripe for the digitization of the media and entertainment industry.

Digitization in siloes

If we look at the evolution of the media and entertainment industry over the last few decades, we find that while the formats have evolved and the technology has changed, the basic processes have remained largely unchanged. The basic steps in any media production involve capturing, processing, editing, finishing, duplication (for different formats) and finally, distribution. We may be using the most high-end digital camera to capture footage, but we have not been able to automate processes or consolidate them significantly.

We’re seeing a number of siloed production and distribution processes starting to migrate to the cloud. Players within the media supply chain have already begun their own cloud migration initiatives. However, while these processes may have moved to the cloud, they are still in siloes and are not talking to each other. This ‘lift and shift’ approach bring limited benefits.

Creating greater synergy through a platform approach

Only an overarching workflow transformation can bring in the disruptive, game-changing benefits that digitization promises. Given the complexities involved in the media supply chain, there are a number of vendors/tools that are used at each step of the supply chain. Bringing all of these together through a platform that integrates all the tools and creates synergies is the way to go.

To build an end-to-end, completely digitized supply chain, there are a few guiding principles to keep in mind:

Holistic view

Focus on creating visibility across the entire workflow, right from production through distribution. Also, allow for secure collaboration across the production ecosystem to help accrue the benefits of a holistic view. A leading American entertainment company was able to monetize a catalog of 100K+ hours of program content (movies, TV series), and games in over 30 countries using the Infosys Media Platform and its Intelligent Metadata Workflows. The platform ensures all digital content metadata that is tagged and delivered to storefronts runs efficiently through standardized workflows and meets brand compliance across all geographies. It helped the company achieve 99 percent accuracy of delivery, 3X process scalability and a 40 percent decrease in Total Cost of Operations (TCO).

Optimize content movement

Given the humungous file sizes involved in media content, the idea is to move the content as little as possible. Instead, bring the process to the content. The process can be smoothened by empowering productions and studio to manage timing and access to the content. For a leading digital media solution provider, a Studio Operations Workflow Platform helps manage content capture, storage, services and editing through a Digital Asset Management system using metadata information. Automate where possible.

Automation using the 80/20 rule can help considerably eliminate or minimize human effort. For instance, metadata creation and management are still largely manual and extremely time-consuming. The Infosys Media Platform for complete metadata management helps automate this to a large extent. Content localization, mastering, delivery and cataloguing are other manual intensive areas that can be automated in the future to a great extent.

Real time metadata

A large amount of data about the content (metadata) is generated manually through time consuming process of data entry, review and approval. While automation of the overall process improves efficiency, digital enablers like machine learning and video/audio/image recognition can be implemented to generate metadata in real time providing a more accurate and timely content delivery workflow.

As media and entertainment becomes more advanced with the advent of 5G, new distribution and consumption channels, and new formats, the benefits of digitization will come to the fore. Key to this transformation is a unifying fabric (such as the Infosys Media Platform) that uses smart workflows, incorporates automation, machine learning and AI, and orchestrates cloud native media and cognitive services from a closely integrated partner ecosystem.