Tech Drives the New Era of Innovation in Media and Entertainment

Fernando González Aguirre, VP Marketing, Belatrix Software
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Fernando González Aguirre, VP Marketing, Belatrix Software

Back in 2015, a survey by Russell Reynolds Associates of more than 2,000 C-level executives found that, by a long-shot, among different industries, it was media that would be disrupted most by digital disruption. They were right. Today, we barely bat an eyelid as we hear Google is working with a movie studio to turn your Android phone into a magic wand to promote the new Harry Potter film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Or that Facebook now makes 84 percent of its advertising revenue from mobile, compared to 0 percent back in 2012 when it had its IPO.

Consumer demand for content, both premium and user generated, when we want it and on any device, is driving fundamental change. This dynamic is blurring the lines between traditional media and entertainment companies and organizations that recognize the importance of creating and delivering content. Underlying all this is the impact of technology and the need to become a digital organization. This is changing budgets and organizational priorities—research indicates that U.S. marketers will spend 8 percent of their marketing programs’ budget on content in 2017. Meanwhile, this is also the year the CMO will finally spend more on technology than the CIO.

The challenge today is how can you serve and delight consumers who have more choices than ever before? What does it mean for your organization’s structure? To what extent do organizations need to change as they implement the technology and processes required for a digital world? In this article I want to explore some of the new technology developments that we see organizations adopting as they try to not just keep up, but provide powerful and engaging customer experiences in this rapidly changing world. What are the importance of new technologies such as AngularJS, and the impact of new tech architectures, such as microservices, in driving innovation?

  ​Agile testing practices from the very beginning means you can better manage the increased complexity of today’s software 

Pro-active media organizations recognize the need to produce content that appeals in new ways, and that requires investment in new technologies and platforms. Let's take the example of mobile and online video. Online video ads are one of the fastest growing advertising mediums, with one of the highest click-through rates of any digital format. However, to be effective, mobile video needs to be social and media friendly—look at how effectively Snapchat uses video, and helps brands from CNN to Mashable engage with younger consumers.

But to deliver a Snapchat like experience means organizations need to invest in their digital capabilities. For example, we worked with one of the largest digital video advertising services, to help them implement and transition to new technologies, (in this case AngularJS), and conduct a complete redesign of their user interface and user experience. Here it’s not just a case of migrating from an old technology like Flash to Angular, but also the need to implement and use techniques such as continuous deployment and invest in quality assurance (QA) and automation. This requires changes to business processes and organizational structures. What may start out as a re-design of your front-end design experience, in many cases leads into more fundamental organizational change as you are driven to improve your customer experiences.

In a similar vein, to create the nimbleness and flexibility needed to react quickly in this new world, we’re also seeing the rapid adoption of new technology architectures, such as microservices. Netflix and Facebook are two of the commonly cited examples here. Businesses need to be able to react quickly to changing customer desires and tastes, and old, large, monolithic applications make this challenging and complex. Re-architecting software products to this new world and using lightweight micro services provide business with greater flexibility. But again, what may start off with the aim of shifting the underlying application architecture, means you will require automation to handle the deployment releases, DevOps and continuous integration; teams will find Agile development methodologies are a better fit than traditional ways of working. Microservices and Agile represent a natural fit, as small teams of 6-8 people can work together on a specific part of the application.

Meanwhile, quality assurance (QA) capabilities are increasingly important. Given the business-critical nature of software and the urgent need to transition to a digital-first world, the role of QA engineers has changed, and testing can no longer be considered as a less important part of the value chain. Introducing Agile testing practices from the very beginning—and that means from the start of the development life-cycle—means you can better manage the increased complexity of today’s software. This reflects how companies need to not just deliver great content, but also great user experiences to keep people engaged. Effective QA has become a core part of ensuring these experiences.

And then beyond these technology changes which organizations must undertake, we’re also in the midst of major business model transformations, just as we’re seeing in other industries such as fintech. Look at the $85.5 billion deal between AT&T and Time Warner for example, or Verizon’s pending acquisition of Yahoo (even despite the major data breaches), and think of this as the beginning. Just as David Bowie pertinently foresaw in 1999, when asked about the impact of the Internet “I don't think we've seen the tip of the iceberg. It's almost if we're on the cusp of something both exhilarating and terrifying”. Almost 20 years later, his vision is more apt than ever in the industries impacted most by digital disruption.

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