Panel Debates Media & Entertainment Issues

by CXOtoday Staff    May 29, 2006

The recent CXOtoday.com Power Breakfast for an exclusive, high-powered group of Enterprise IT Leaders from the Media and Entertainment sector saw a wide ranging debate on a variety of issues affecting the sector, and more significantly, also examined how cutting-edge IT and communication technologies could create new revenue streams for the sector. The event was held in New Delhi and the topic of discussion was ‘Leveraging Infrastructure & Applications to Maximize Business Productivity.’

Ivor Soans, Editor of CXOtoday.com and Niru Mehta, Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Avaya GlobalConnect moderated the panel discussion.

The panel immediately agreed that communication is the soul of the media - a sector where the highest amount of significance is placed on deadlines.

According to Tridib Bordoloi, Head-IT, Indian Express Newspaper, the main business issue that the sector faced was that the shelf life of the offering was short and the product was quickly perishable. He also added that often there were no specific solutions for the media sector, and media companies had to improvise on existing solutions to fit their needs, and thus they became followers when it came to technology use.

According to Akhil Chandra, GM-Systems Modernisation, The Times of India Group, the media game when it came to leveraging IT was all about communication and bandwidth. He added that reach was very important in the business and therefore many points of collection and distribution were key to success.

When quizzed about how they currently deal with these challenges, the answer across the board was that companies deployed robust networks. Since most Enterprise IT Leaders present were from large media and entertainment groups, they all felt that uptime and reliability were vital to their huge networks scattered across the country. Security was also identified as a key issue, since any breach of security would result in leak of content prior to publishing.

For the broadcast sector, Enterprise IT leaders, security assumed another angle. According to Sanjay Jindal, VP - Technical, Siticable Network, their challenge was to ensure that the feed to the consumer wasn’t hijacked anywhere in the route from the main cable service operator to the end-consumer.

The panel debated the adoption of cutting-edge VoIP technologies and videoconferencing to improve their communication capabilities. While some felt that VoIP was still not completely viable in India, because of government regulations and the cost of handsets and other equipment, other panellists felt that this was a false perception and VoIP was viable for the media business in India - a cost effective and powerful solution that must be leveraged in order to remain competitive. Videoconferencing was also seen as a must-have technology and several of the Enterprise IT Leaders present said they were already trying out videoconferencing to improve their communication capabilities.

Service-provider issues were also debated. According to Vijay Upadhyay of Jagran Prakashan, because of the use of multiple service providers, due to unavailability of the same service provider in all centres of operation, they often suffered as service providers passed the buck to other service providers and faults were not rectified on time.

Also keenly debated was the entire in-house versus outsourcing issue. On the whole, it was felt that though use of technologies such as SMS was outsourced, media houses preferred to build in-house competencies. According to Alok K Agarwal, VP - Systems at Business Standard, this was because the media sector saw technology as being a core part of their business and hence was quite uncomfortable about outsourcing. Amit Gemini of TV Today Network said that though some parts of technology were being outsourced now, the TV channel was quickly moving towards building in-house competencies. However, the advertising sector seemed to prefer the outsourced model, with Prantik Dutta, Production Director at Leo Burnett, saying that the outsourced model was working great for them.

In conclusion, the panel felt that fast changing customer needs would force media and entertainment companies to adopt cutting-edge IT and communication technologies quickly. Earlier, the customer accepted whatever was being given/ shown to him, but now customers are demanding entertainment and content in their preferred location, at their convenience when it came to time, and in whichever medium they preferred to access it, said Sanjay Jindal of Siticable Network.

Niru Mehta challenged the participants to look at new IT and communication technologies that had the potential to power new lines of business in the media and entertainment sector. He explained, “Every time your business misses the boat, a revenue stream goes out of the window.” He further encouraged the Enterprise IT Leaders present to leverage IT and thus become business leaders in their respective organizations.