Sarbani Bhatia, Senior Vice-President, IT, Jagran Prakashan

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?

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.

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

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.

“The rapidly changing technology landscape poses the biggest challenge.” Sarbani Bhatia

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.