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Big on Analytics: Exploring new ways to deliver content

December 01, 2016

Big on Analytics: Exploring new ways to ...


The media and entertainment industry is betting big on technology for providing customised offerings to users. Moreover, a growing shift towards digital media is driving the adoption of cloud, social media, mobility solutions, analytics and big data solutions. Media and entertainment industry players discuss their IT strategies, and technology trends…

What are the technology trends being witnessed by the media and entertainment space?

Sarbani Bhatia

The proliferation of handheld smart devices and the hunger for online content are driving media and entertainment companies to embrace the digital transformation. They now feel the need to deliver content more efficiently across multiple platforms. The emergence of new technologies and mobile devices has revolutionised the way content is produced, transmitted, managed and distributed. The priority is to collect and disseminate content rapidly across multiple channels, while ensuring adequate network backup. Digitisation has resulted in huge volumes of data being generated and collected by media and entertainment companies. Besides, with the adoption of high-definition content, the file size of a standard video or an image has increased significantly. This has resulted in increased bandwidth and storage needs. As a result, enterprises are now looking to adopt hybrid cloud services to meet their storage demands.

The current landscape is marked by a huge amount of structured and unstructured data. Therefore, media and entertainment companies are turning towards big data analytics to understand customer preferences and behaviour patterns. Big data helps companies make real-time decisions and create compelling engagement with customers. Further, applications such as customer relationship management (CRM) are being increasingly deployed for better customer targeting, intelligent trend analysis on brand spending, understanding wallet share, account planning, media inventory tracking and other improved business processes. Media and entertainment firms are rapidly implementing mobility applications such as field and sales force automation to enable real–time data collection from employees on the field, thereby saving time and expense. Securing communication networks is also a priority for most media and entertainment companies.

Dushyant Kohli

The adoption of the digital medium is expected to increase at an exponential rate by 2020 and hence we can expect technology to be one of the key focus areas for the Indian media and entertainment industry. There has been a massive shift in consumers’ viewing preferences, from an appointment-based model to an on-the-go model with greater demand for over-the-top (OTT) video content. This paradigm shift will see industry players adopting cloud computing solutions in order to enable seamless delivery of their services. Moreover, with people around the country adopting OTT as their preferred medium for accessing video-based content, there will be a greater focus on establishing robust content delivery networks (CDNs) for hassle-free distribution of entertainment content across geographies. As a result, more players in the industry will be looking to tap into the huge potential offered by smart digital devices by embracing mobility and developing OTT products for their services. There will soon be demand for a single-box solution catering to all needs, from TVs to mobiles to smart devices. Seamless viewing and communication across devices will be the key.

Shabir Momin

There has been a reduction in satellite TV viewing and a significant increase in digital content viewing in the media and entertainment industry. In addition, the industry is witnessing a reduction in TV format programming and a greater need for digital content creation. Content is being produced keeping in mind the digital audience and its digital content consumption and behaviour. The third trend being witnessed is that the prime-time slot has changed due to the change in medium. Digital media has a very different kind of prime-time behaviour, which depends on the kind of content being accessed.

Rajat Nigam

The media industry is all about managing content. Enhancement is the key to all aspects of the content lifecycle, right from content production to content distribution. The industry is witnessing the widespread adoption of fourth generation technology - 4K in content production and 4G in content delivery. The vastness of the industry, however, does necessitate the use of hybrid technologies and practices.

Mohammad Wasim

The key trends witnessed by the industry include the growing adoption of mobility services due to the explosion of connected devices, the increasing use of managed services to focus on core business areas and a transformation from physical to digital infrastructure. Further, with the increasing uptake of smartphones and tablets, gaming and online content consumption is emerging as a promising source of revenue for the media and entertainment industry.

What are some of the IT/telecom solutions being deployed by your company? How have these helped enhance business operations?

Sarbani Bhatia

We have deployed a “unique organisational portal”, which is a great human resource initiative for the dissemination of information, collaboration and project management. This also forms a gateway for our customised, hierarchical and seamlessly integrated workflows, which are used at every stage, right from content creation and distribution to business processes. Since these are real-time mobility solutions, they are very effective as they trigger auto mails and SMSs based on alerts and notifications.

Further, we are facilitating quick and efficient decision-making through our analytics and business intelligence modules based on online data. The company also has a gamut of mobile applications on the iOS and Android platforms for ensuring greater ease in real-time working. We are also using the global positioning system (GPS) facility to track and monitor our distribution network, and ensure timely delivery of newspapers. Our customised advertising sales, scheduling and pagination software have  helped in strengthening checks on credit control and reducing bad debt. The implementation of an online payment gateway has helped us realise our payments faster and more  effortlessly.

Dushyant Kohli

At nexGTv, we have an OTT platform which employs streaming media solutions, allowing users to access our massive and diverse content library. Our team constantly strives to work with the upcoming trends in OTT, be it fourth-generation CDNs or enhanced video player features. We also power DTH/mobile TV applications for multiple operators, including big players such as Airtel, Videocon and Idea. This ensures consistent revenues for us every month.

Shabir Momin

As a company, we use and create our own technology solutions. We do not use any third-party technology platform except from Amazon. Recently, we launched a platform called One Access, which is very new and exciting, and has witnessed significant uptake.

Rajat Nigam

Technology is an enabler and a key differentiator in the media and entertainment industry. IT plays a significant role in our corporate functions by imparting tools that drive higher productivity, efficient analysis and optimised costs. Automation in content production and delivery and in asset management systems helps in the sharing and treatment of content across multiple locations for production and deliveries. We leverage newer technologies that drive faster database churning along with machine learning for our digital products (applications and website). Being in the digital medium, with our core assets in file form, IT security solutions and practices are deployed across the organisation.

Mohammad Wasim

From the telecommunications point of view, the company will bring about some changes in the existing plans and  implement new corporate plans. This will provide cost-effective solutions to the company with regard to its telecommunication requirements. As far as IT infrastructure is concerned, the company needs to make some changes related to the server, workstation and network equipment. Considering the heavy data requirements, the existing servers are not enough. Therefore, new servers are needed immediately to provide better storage capacity.

What is the level of technology adoption in respect of the cloud, internet of things (IoT) and big data analytics in this industry?

Sarbani Bhatia

Different media companies are at different stages in the journey of technology adoption. Cloud spending is increasing and most media broadcasters have plans to purchase cloud solutions. While cloud solutions are becoming popular, most companies continue to rely on private cloud solutions to harness in-house technology support and secure customer data and content. However, cost considerations and improved security measures are boosting the hybrid cloud space as well.

The scope for IoT devices in the media and entertainment industry is really exhaustive. Based on the data captured by sensors about an individual’s habits and preferences, the industry can create and deliver personalised content as well as reduce the duplication of user data across platforms. Despite the vast potential of IoT, its execution remains at a nascent stage. There are various issues pertaining to IoT implementation that need to be resolved including regulatory hurdles, legal precedents, intellectual property rights and lack of connectivity standards. The biggest challenges pertain to privacy and cybersecurity. Media and entertainment companies need to adopt a customer-centric approach while developing IoT strategies to calibrate experiences that attract consumers without invading their privacy.

These companies are using big data analytics to enter new markets, improve visibility, sharpen the focus on key initiatives and improve efficiency. Although the usage is not as pronounced as business-to-business selling and services, media and entertainment organisations are using it in a big way. In both Hollywood and Bollywood, a large part of the success can be attributed to predictive models based on analytics. Social media buzz can often predict the success or failure of films. The show House of Cards is said to be aired based on studies of customer preferences using big data.

Dushyant Kohli

Given the massive evolution in the way entertainment content is delivered and consumed, cloud and big data technologies are rapidly finding acceptance amongst players in the Indian media and entertainment industry. By integrating these technologies into the service delivery architecture, OTT players can enable seamless, on-the-go access to video-based entertainment to their users. Besides, they can target viewers across multiple geographies based on their preferences, consumption patterns and usage behaviour, and can create detailed consumer segmentations to serve relevant entertainment content to individual users. Moreover, the introduction of companion devices would enhance the user experience. Meanwhile, machine-to-machine (M2M) communication will help record and view the content as per the user’s choice.

Shabir Momin

Our company has been using cloud technology for the past eight to ten years. We have been early adopters of the Amazon Web Service in India. In addition, we use a lot of big data analytics for our internal computations, such as to figure out what is trending. Our company also uses big data in our new platform, open access, to give enough information to content creators and content owners so that they can invest in the right content. The use of big data analytics gives a lot of insight; without proper knowledge, it is usually the gut feeling that dictates decisions. We also have a separate IoT division and use the technology in various products and technologies. One of the verticals that is actually adopting IoT and augmented reality in a big way is marketing. Experiential marketing has gained traction. Currently, people are focusing not just on on-the-ground or outdoor marketing or any other marketing, but also on experiential marketing. This form of marketing facilitates personalisation.

Rajat Nigam

We have made a significant change in terms of our operations by adopting cloud for news gathering. Traditional modes of using satellite links are fast being replaced with bonded operator solutions and cloud-based streaming solutions, giving us higher efficiencies in terms of speed and costs. The consumer is the king and should be gratified in this highly competitive world. Data analytics is an essential part of our workflow ecosystem as it helps us to customise and deliver content to consumers on the basis of devices, locations and behavioural patterns. We are fast moving from broadcast to narrowcast to unicast, and technology is helping us achieve this.

Mohammad Wasim

Of all the technology trends mentioned above, cloud computing is one of the most interesting and, in my opinion, the least controversial. While there are far greater reasons to adopt cloud technology than just cost reduction, performance issues and lack of visibility into the stack remain major issues for large enterprises. Yet, among the large enterprises we deal with, cloud computing is being adopted steadily for non-mission-critical applications. Moreover, some enterprises are now beginning to downsize their data centres. Business agility, vendor choice and access to next-generation architectures are some of the benefits of deploying the latest cloud computing technologies, which are often radically advanced as compared to the traditional enterprise solutions.

The world of digital advertising is evolving at a breakneck pace. By utilising Hadoop to capture and analyse clickstream, transaction, video and social media data, digital advertisers are able to spot trends and patterns, unearth new relationships, and optimise their ad campaigns by adjusting campaign tactics in real time. The entertainment industry is using Hadoop in a number of ways, with the connected consumer at its core. It is being used to increase revenues, understand real-time customer sentiment, increase marketing effectiveness, and boost ratings and viewership. For instance, video game development studios are turning to analysing massive data streams in order to enhance game player engagement and increase player retention, while music streaming services are providing completely personalised recommendations for their customers.

What are the key challenges in the deployment and management of telecom solutions?

Sarbani Bhatia

The rapidly changing technology landscape poses the biggest challenge in terms of finding the right balance between handling daily operational challenges and planning for the next big thing. The introduction of new processes without disrupting existing ones, and keeping costs under control yet leveraging latest top-notch products are often conflicting issues.

Downtime and latency of networks are other important issues. We also have to live with the problem of last-mile connectivity. Further, the increasing demand for shorter time-to-market distribution of digital content over an array of platforms is causing major disruption.

In addition, constant upgradation of the existing infrastructure, increasing costs of software licences and integration of multiple platforms are some common issues faced by the company. Besides, there are problems related to employee retention and finding the appropriate talent with the required skill set.

Dushyant Kohli

Interoperability is one of the major problems that we as a technology-focused organisation face when it comes to the deployment and management of IT/telecom solutions. Another challenge is ensuring  that the solutions developed and implemented by us are consistent and seamlessly accessible across multiple platforms.

Shabir Momin

One of the key challenges is that, from a client’s perspective, the solution made for the target audience should be easy to understand and access. In many cases, the pace of adoption is comparatively slower than the speed at which the innovation takes place. The other challenge is that there is a change in the cost structure owing to the adoption of new technology solutions. As a user, we face challenges related to the bandwidth or the quality of service provided by operators. In my opinion, this is an overgrowing mess that never gets resolved because the expectations keep on increasing. Earlier, when we had 2G, we expected 3G technology. Now that we have 4G, we have expectations for 10G. Therefore, innovations keep taking place. The problem is that these 3G/4G technologies do not deliver the promised bandwidths.

Rajat Nigam

The key challenge is the short lifecycle of technological solutions. To this end, there is a need to enhance the skill sets of personnel in order to adopt and adapt newer tools. Designing systems that can adopt next-generation systems and are modular in nature is must, but not easy. The way content is consumed today is significantly different from how it was done a few years back. This is both an opportunity as well as a challenge.

Mohammad Wasim

Telecommunications faces a number of challenges on a daily basis. However, service providers and agents must overcome these issues to offer the best-in-class customer experience available. A major challenge facing the industry today is ensuring that telecom companies are leveraging the correct infrastructure for optimum functionality. As more customers utilise different devices for voice communication and internet access, service providers need to address the growing data needs. These companies must analyse the existing infrastructure and make the necessary changes to expand their capabilities and meet the rising data demand. Organisations need to effectively manage costs and have the ability to react to the quickly shifting market. Many of the expenses incurred by telecom are IT related, as operations are dependent on reliable technology.

What IT initiatives are you planning to take over the next few years?

Sarbani Bhatia

With greater uptake of high speed telecom services, the company is planning to upgrade its IT infrastructure by investing in hardware, revamping its content management system software workflows, enhancing its mobile applications and increasing public cloud usage for business applications. We are also looking to improve our CRM software and opportunity management platform for more targeted sales.

Dushyant Kohli

Over the next few years, we are planning to further augment our technology architecture and make it more efficient and robust by undertaking new IT initiatives. Further, we aim to develop hybrid network capability to support our array of services, as well as invest heavily in CDN delivery and cloud computing technologies in order to improve the company’s existing IT infrastructure. We are continuously upgrading our video players, applications, payment instruments and methodologies to improve the user experience and keep pace with the latest industry trends. We are also working on new segments like OTT set-top boxes and hybrid boxes with fourthgeneration CDNs.

Shabir Momin

As a company, we drink, eat and breathe innovation and aim to continue doing that. We plan to add new technologies, services and innovations in the coming years.

Rajat Nigam

The media and entertainment industry focuses on content delivery across multiple platforms, and technological solutions have to be adopted around that. IT-based workflows across the content lifecycle including content acquisition, content production and content delivery are fast becoming a reality. In times to come, I would want to see a networked environment across my organisation, supported with cloud and IoT technologies, and including the necessary security systems.

Mohammad Wasim

The company has some plans with regard to its communication infrastructure over the next two years. We will implement the Cisco Nexus and Cisco Layer 3 switches throughout the country for remote support. We will increase the bandwidth of our existing internet service provider lines for better data communication.


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