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Interview with Sunil Lulla, Group Chief Executive Officer, Balaji Telefilms

September 27, 2018

Interview with Sunil Lulla, Group Chief ...
The media and entertainment sector has been rapidly increasing the use of technology to enhance business performance and efficiency. Information and communication technology (ICT) is playing an important role in various functions of the industry such as operations, product enhancement and service delivery. Emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), internet of things (IoT) and data analytics hold a promising future in this space and are already seeing deployment at various levels. However, the deployment of new-age technologies and cutting-edge ICT solutions is laden with several challenges, including the lack of adequate IT infrastructure. Sunil Lulla, Group Chief Executive Officer, Balaji Telefilms talks about the ICT trends in the media and entertainment industry…


What role is ICT playing in the media and entertainment industry? How has data explosion impacted the way business is being conducted?

Globally, technology is driving the digital revolution as consumers increasingly adopt innovative solutions for their media consumption. The world is now connected through the internet and social media in ways that exceed the imaginations of technology innovators from the past. India has not been an island in this change, the next billion users of media and entertainment will access the internet from their phones. The growing access to smartphones, smart speakers, connected cars and connected homes enables people to be online virtually anywhere and any time, consuming music and television shows on the go. Content owners cater not only to families but to individuals across geographies with different preferences.

Clearly, the data explosion will further change the way stories are selected and presented. The current TV rating systems will have to move from once a week to a daily number. Prime time will no longer matter, and all 24 hours will have to be factored in and catered to. It also means that infinite combinations are possible and the need for quality content will go up exponentially. Content creators and broadcasters will have to recast their business models to cater to the data-driven audience as opposed to the one-size-fits-all model of thinking.

What ICT solutions are being adopted by your organisation and how have they benefited business performance and efficiency?

ALTBalaji, the subscription-based service of Balaji Telefilms, uses big data and AI to track audience behaviour and consumption. The data emerging from the existing users helps us program better in the future. We use technologies from Microsoft and Amazon Web services in our streaming and storage infrastructure, and data lake.

What is the role of emerging technologies such as big data analytics, AI, and IoT in the media and entertainment industry?

At this point, AI is being used for marketing and advertising, service comprehension, search and recommendation, and experience innovation using technologies like virtual and augmented reality. A machine learning algorithm trained with data such as text, stills and video segments can extract language, objects and concepts from its training resources, and suggest marketing and advertising solutions to improve efficiency. As experience personalisation becomes important for the industry, companies are using AI to create personalised services for billions of customers. These include recommending content as per users’ personal tastes while they are browsing a video. Meanwhile, computer vision technologies are enabling content producers to better manage visual content and accelerate the media production process.

What are the key challenges in the deployment of new technologies and management of the existing IT and telecom infrastructure?

The existing IT infrastructure has become dated and companies need to upgrade quickly to be able to leverage the disruption in technology.

What ICT trends will shape the media and entertainment industry going forward?

Blockchain in managing intellectual property and rights of artists and content will be an important trend in the coming years.






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