Viewpoint: Address Technology and the People Behind It

Continuous learning by staff can help your next technology deployment.

Our industry is facing many challenges with the ever growing emergence of IT technologies and radical changes coming to our technical infrastructure. The impact will also ripple down to operations and creative levels while changing the business model of the entire ecosystem.

If technology is a key driver, then the success of the transformation of an organization is also about people using technology to achieve their strategic business goals.

In this article, we will cover the misconceptions one can revisit and the opportunities we can benefit from if we focus on the transformation of the workforce first.

Misconception #1: We need to retire the Broadcast engineers!

It is obvious that most of our infrastructure will soon be based on generic IT components and software. The skills and knowledge of people, who design, deploy, and support the infrastructure should evolve to use this technology. But we are doing television! This will not change, and your current workforce knows the television operations and media workflows. We can train the broadcast team on IT technology or train the IT team on Broadcast technology, but the biggest opportunity we have is to leverage the existing IT and Broadcast resources to better work together and share their knowledge with the support of Training Specialists.

Misconception #2: Only people coming right out of school know about new technology!

Maybe not quite true when we are looking at the pace of innovation. According to former US Secretary of Education, Richard Riley “we are preparing students for jobs that currently do not existusing technologies that haven’tbeen invented, in order to solve problems that are not yet problems”.

A good example of this is virtual machines technology, which is very popular today but while being almost nonexistent four years ago in the Broadcast applications. First, adopters had to find a way to learn by doing and training their own resources with the assistance of vendor’s Field Support Engineers who were themselves supported by their own Development Engineers during the deployment. We should also think about the IP- based video infrastructure. We know very little about the real impact of Software Defined Network and IP routing on our Broadcast systems and TV operations. There is no doubt that continuous learning is the only solution. Using smart people from school is fine but we also have a major opportunity to leverage the existing workforce with a proper educational plan, as they know so much more about our business. Investing in the existing workforce will build a better team who is more engaged with a sense of loyal to the company.

Misconception #3: Education is about Knowledge

“The great aim of education is not about knowledge, it is about action” (Herbert Spencer).

If it is fundamental to access, share, and distribute formatted content, but we have a significant opportunity to manage every training session as a project – an assessment of the current operations identifies the knowledge gap associated with current or future workflow and helps to plan a proper and customized educational project. The project can also include the creation of specific learning tools and training material. With a proper education plan, the acquisition and persistence of knowledge is maximized.

Misconception #4: It is impossible to estimate the return on investment in education

In fact, if the training is generic, it is difficult to understand how much of the training will actually be used. By following the steps below, you could better estimate your ROI:

  • Definition of the goals with clear and measurable businessKey Performance Indicators (KPI)
  • Assessment of the current operations
  • Creation of a customized education plan
  • Deployment of efficient training program with constant evaluation of the acquisition of knowledge

A successful training program begins with a plan

One way to achieve this is to evaluate the performance improvement of the organization with a post training assessment, match these improvements according the business KPI, and calculate the return on investment pretty accurately.

#1: Define your goal

As the title suggests, the deployment of a new technology platform is not about technology, but rather how this innovation will support the business objectives and the change required at operational levels in detail. The goals should be associated with KPI and clearly defined (i.e. improvement of media created per day by X%, reduction in the cost for ingest content by Y%, time required to post online content reducing the time by Z%.). These KPI’s can be directly associated with the improvement of performances of the workflows and the workforce supporting these processes.

#2: Understand your organization

To improve the current operations or to deploy a new platform, it is very important to have a clear understanding of the organization at the technical, operational, and business levels. A mapping of the processes and tasks executed by machines or personnel associated with the representation of flow of information and media is a tremendous tool to understand how your organization performs – or could better perform. It is essential to capture the obvious, but also the “unsaid” aspects of everyone’s contributions to get the big picture and, again, identify road blocks that limit workflow efficiencies. An efficient workflow analysis can pay for itself in a very short period of time with immediate improvements of the multiple tasks throughout the organization.The assessment can also prepare for the transformation of global processes, focusing on the capability of the workforce to support new challenges.

#3: Plan the transformation

Most of the time, we deploy new solutions focusing only on the products performance and we overlook the opportunity to optimize the global workflow. This could be improved by defining the organization performance goals using the steps described above and then articulate a plan to optimize the performance of the organization:

  • Definition of the tasks to be performed
  • Knowledge to be acquired
  • Measurement points to evaluate the success of the transformation according to the agreed upon KPI’s of the business‘s
  • Scheduling according to the profiles of the future trainees, their environment and the technology they use or will use.

The efficiency of the methods comes partially with the capability to customize the education plan and provide what is really required and specific to a defined environment.

#4: Engage your staff in the process

It is beneficial to engage your staff in the process. People will understand that the company is investing in them and they will benefit if they are better at their jobs. This will also create the desire to learn. While an employee might not feel the need to “Go back to school” when they have years of experience, a global plan with clear objectives will help everyone to embrace the training with a positive attitude.

#5: Educate

Being a good teacher is not being the most knowledgeable but rather someone who can assist their students to get the most out of learning. In fact, a number of successful training sessions that we have managed were driven by helping others find the information themselves, or even better – learn from other trainees in a controlled and supported environment. The teaching techniques associated with a customized program are really what make Media180 unique. In addition, our approach can be combined with several other trainings specific to the product and provided by vendors or with modules created by industry associations like SMPTE, SBE, IEEE or IABM.

#6: Measure and re-assess

These processes also include specific methods to evaluate the acquisition of knowledge at every step of the training for the group and at the individual level. The assessment of the teachers and the material is also measured in almost real time. A final report can help to understand the evolution of the capabilities of the group according the KPIs defined earlier. The report also helps to understand new improvement opportunities and can drive the optimization of operations of your organization by adjusting tasks or the re-configuration of the infrastructure or applications.

Noting key points, our education plan will lead to a number of benefits, including:

  • Better performance of your organization with higher skilled workers and better use of technology
  • Provide a better and happier workforce at minimum cost to you (hiring is expensive)
  • Makes your workforce happy!
  • Better management of your organization
  • Quick, measurable return on investment and great increased cost of ownership of your infrastructure.

MEDIA180 is a new organization being deployed in North America for the past year, leveraging15 years’ experience of its sister organization based in Europe (IIFA). The team is made up of media professionals trained on well-proven methods; using teaching techniques and tools highly unique and specialized to the media industry. Focusing on people and education, the company has already helped a number of large media companies like CBC, Télé Québec, and StudioCanal to support deployment of new technology platforms.

Eric Dufosse is the President and Co-Founder at MEDIA180 (www.MEDIA180.tv). He spent his entire career in the Media Industry in TV operations as a teacher, editor and consultant, and has held a number of various roles for major vendors.

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