2017 Trends in Media Asset Management

Kevin Savina, product strategy director at Dalet Digital Media Systems discusses key 2017 trends in media asset management – multi-platform distribution, collaboration, workflow orchestration and business intelligence reporting – that broadcasters, facilities and content producers should keep at the forefront of their decision-making.

Let’s begin the questions with a look at multi-platform distribution. How are changing audience consumption habits combined with the continued rise of social media impacting multi-platform distribution?

In order to be addressed efficiently, Multiplatform distribution workflows need to be considered at the heart of the operations, and not as an afterthought. The MAM solution is key to enabling efficiency in this process. Not only does it need to manage the stock and the preparation flow of all the program elements needed for outbound content on all distribution channels, but it also needs to cater for a return path of data, and even more so with social channels.

Content owners want to move their assets to multiple platforms and distribution channels. The need is to do this efficiently and automatically. Click to enlarge.

Content owners want to move their assets to multiple platforms and distribution channels. The need is to do this efficiently and automatically. Click to enlarge.

Content owners want to move their assets to multiple platforms and distribution channels. The need is to do this efficiently and automatically.

Let’s start with the program preparation aspect. In multi-platform distribution, we still face challenges of similar nature as the ones traditional linear broadcasting faces - dealing with multiple languages, multiple audio tracks, multiple subtitle tracks, and different delivery formats - but these need to be taken to a much larger scale. By providing the right toolset and automating the packaging process, the combination of MAM & orchestration optimizes that preparation, facilitating a much more efficient multi-platform distribution workflow.

Now let’s move to the aspect of the return data path from the distribution platforms back into the MAM, as it is key for collecting important data on content performance. Typically, traditional MAM solutions preparing content for delivery on linear channels have not been concerned with any consumption data flowing back. But with digital platforms (OTT and social media), this data is now available and not tapping into it for new strategies is a missed opportunity. To lay properly the foundation for the new ‘game’, these data sources should be connected back to the MAM, mapped in the data model, and made available in various aggregates, to various users groups, at various stages, in order drive more informed decisions at the editorial and content preparation level, as well as longer term strategies.


The Broadcast Bridge: We operate in a work-anywhere world with multi-disciplinary teams, how is MAM keeping pace with this trend?

MAM started out as the platform to manage your media assets, but has now evolved into a solution that manages workflows to prepare these assets. To do this efficiently, it is not enough to manage access rights and share content, you need native collaboration tools. Having users accessing the system from different locations, over secured web clients or mobile applications allows for distributed teams to operate. Providing built-in chat and notification tools ensures they operate with maximum productivity. And finally, providing solutions for multi-site operations, brings together cross-geography workflows, making the walls of separate offices & facilities a distant memory.

The combination of these tools, if done right, can turn the MAM into a true collaboration platform.  


The Broadcast Bridge: We have more content to produce, more tasks to manage, more technologies to connect, more changes to come – how is workflow orchestration evolving to manage the growing demands?

Well, there is indeed a need for workflow orchestration to optimize efficiency around MAM driven workflows.

From a design perspective, there has always been a divide between 2 schools of thought: should orchestration be part of the MAM platform or a separate system? There is no definite answer to this question, but I would tend to believe that the most efficient solution is to have an orchestration layer very closely coupled to the MAM. This scenario would make full use of the comprehensive metadata available in the MAM to drive business rules as well as ensure consistency when continuously changing these business rules and operations – as mentioned in the first topic. Our choice has been to have orchestration as an open component that is natively integrated with the MAM.

Any orchestration solution should be based on the BPMN 2.0 standard. Click to enlarge.

Any orchestration solution should be based on the BPMN 2.0 standard. Click to enlarge.

If we look at the orchestration component itself, it needs to be a BPM platform based on standards such as BPMN 2.0, which will orchestrate a combination of automated technical processes and human tasks/operations. This is key to efficiency. Any partial solution will limit what can be accomplished.

What’s interesting today is that we even see some organisations, who already have MAM systems in place, but no built-in orchestration, looking for solutions like Dalet as a complementary layer that facilitates workflows across their legacy siloes, improving efficiency and bringing visibility at a higher level.


The Broadcast Bridge: Cloud – what can we expect from MAM & the Cloud?

Well, let me start by making an important distinction between “MAM in the Cloud” and “MAM and the Cloud”. In general, moving some part of an operation to Cloud is not just a technology change, it will also affect other areas such as financial planning, operations, personnel, etc... As such it typically requires a transition phase.

A first approach, that we see with our customers is what I would call “MAM and the Cloud”. It consists, in keeping a traditional MAM solution, running on premise, but taking advantage of some Cloud services as IaaS (Compute and Storage on AWS or Azure are the most common) but also some SaaS services. It does not fundamentally change the MAM operations work, but it does bring a significant first layer of flexibility to our customers.

A second approach would be “MAM in the Cloud”. There you have the whole MAM system running in the Cloud. There are some customers that have made this move to “All-in on Cloud”, but very few so far.

What we expect to see more often is what I would call ‘Edge Cloud Workflows’, whereby we work with our customers to provide a ‘Cloud-based solution’ to a specific existing business or workflow problem and nicely integrate this with their pre-existing workflow. The key aspect here is that this gives full flexibility to our customers to decide what area makes the most sense to gradually implement in the Cloud.


The Broadcast Bridge: How is MAM helping content owners collect, model and exploit data?

Data-driven is one of the current buzz-phrases of management gurus. Well, if you look at the point of view of the broadcasters and content owners, a well-structured MAM back-end, tightly combined with orchestration is the only way to enable data-driven media operations. 

First, to build the proper data model for a data-driven media strategy you need to combine:

  • The metadata - of the media assets, their taxonomy and the relationships between assets (available in the MAM)
  • The data about the users
    • the groups they pertain to and their rights (available in the MAM)
    • the time they spend on their tasks (available in the BPM)
  • The data fed back from audiences on each asset (available in the MAM)
  • The data about the infrastructure and all the connected software services (combining data available in the MAM and in the BPM)

Then to make it actually usable for decisions you need to consolidate this data and aggregate it into actionable insight for various users and in various tools:

In the MAM and its production tools

  • In the MAM and its production tools
  • In the BPM, the tasks it displays or its provisioning algorithms
  • In the BI and the set of reports it facilitates

Key questions to ask a MAM vendor

The key question to ask is whether the MAM will respond to the business requirements of your facility. Can it enable true integration between silos of production? Can it offer you the services you need in such a way that the cost savings can be established without compromising the quality of the content produced? Is it sufficiently scalable and extensible so that it can deliver the agility required to respond to new business and new business models? What would be required to add a new broadcast channel? What would it take to deliver content out to a new content distribution network? What would it take to integrate a new content production unit? What would it take to rapidly scale up the number of users? How is it integrated with the Cloud? These are the essential features that will ensure you are truly future-proofing your facility.

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