Post Magazine

May 2010

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P O S T P O S I T I O N S A new economic reality F ollowing a turbulent year in the global economy, many industries have been forced to look long and hard at their By JAKE WINETT Media & Entertainment Industry Manager Microsoft Communications Sector Long Beach, CA operation strategies and practices in hopes of saving more and spending with more cau- tion. Media companies have responded to the downturn by cutting costs, however this alone is not a long-term winning strategy.To build a sustainable competitive advantage, media firms must ultimately do two things — increase productivity and find ways to deliver new value to customers who con- tinue to demand more access to rich con- tent across multiple screens and devices. IT providers in particular have been Creating new efficiencies in media and entertainment. tasked with enabling businesses to simulta- neously drive cost savings, improve produc- tivity and speed innovation.This past fall, our CEO Steve Ballmer introduced the idea of “The New Efficiency,” or the concept of doing more with less — an effort he is championing and feels will help companies respond to this new economic reality. I remain encouraged by the growth I’m seeing in the media and entertainment in- dustry particularly. I spend my time with cus- tomers from broadcasters and major pro- duction houses to post companies that tell me they are committed to integrating their largely manual workflow processes in favor of more flexible automated solutions. Using a technology such as Microsoft Office Share- Point Server 2007, for example, is one way companies can begin that process. NEW EFFICIENCIES The logical place for companies to begin creating new efficiencies is by enhancing legacy systems through technological up- dates. Currently, there are many technolo- gies available that add to existing IT infra- structure and investments. These options enable disparate technologies to come to- gether and provide new end-to-end tech- nology experiences without assuming the time and costs associated with a complete infrastructure overhaul. SharePoint, an integrated suite of server capabilities, isn’t a tool most customers would think of immediately for post, how- ever it’s very effective at enabling collabora- tion and media workflows across content and business systems while allowing for greater business insight. For example, this specific technology allows “Joe” to create a rough cut within a browser and be able to 40 Post • May 2010 share that out for review and approval be- fore outputting the edit decision list for final editing. In fact, media companies such as Starz Entertainment that have deployed SharePoint to manage their post workflows have evidence that shows, on average, an 80 percent efficiency improvement. I often hear from post partners about the lack of transparency within their existing operations. Sony DADC, a leader in supply crosoft Silverlight as the user front-end inter- face.This process was extremely overhead- intensive, with multiple processes needing to be run on each piece of content as it was being prepared and ingested.The company selected Microsoft BizTalk Server to help them integrate and automate this first phase of their digital supply chain, expecting to re- duce their operational overhead and improv- ing efficiency by about 30 percent. SharePoint 2010 supports more robust media management capabilities, including fully customizable search refinement and metadata. A prototype is shown. chain services for the media and entertain- ment industry, is aggressively tackling this issue with one of their major technology ini- tiatives.To address the challenge of providing visibility to their systems and processes while enabling the next gen of an integrated digital supply chain, Sony DADC has chosen to deploy a large stack of Microsoft technol- ogy and solutions, including SharePoint, FAST ESP and Silverlight, to help them man- age their end-to-end digital supply chain ser- vices.This solution will enable them to pro- vide a highly scalable, transparent and fully- managed service to prepare and distribute content to hundreds of broadcasters, chan- nel and retail partners. Another example of where Microsoft technology is being used in post production is with one of the largest cable broadcasters, MTV Networks. Because this company is op- erating several different cable networks, they need to ingest huge amounts of content daily into their digital asset management sys- tem, which is based on .NET and using Mi- WHAT’S NEXT? Although it might seem like putting off new IT investments is the right choice for the near term, I believe it is essential for companies to continue innovating and preparing to meet the next wave of busi- ness challenges. Technologies like those mentioned above allow post to streamline processes, connect isolated systems and share information more readily while giving business decision-makers better visibility through intuitive business intelligence tools. Studio, broadcast and media companies are being tasked to deliver content to multiple screens and to find new sustainable revenue models.These organizations must be willing to evaluate and creatively invest in their current IT infrastructure to keep a competitive posi- tion in a disrupted market. Media and enter- tainment companies stand to benefit by en- hancing their current infrastructure, creating new efficiencies in time and cost savings, and providing critical service and compelling con- tent experiences for the consumer.

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