An expert panel came together to discuss transformative tech and flag some of their key considerations from an industry buyer perspective, with some interesting and pragmatic takes on some of the biggest tech trends of today, reports Mark Mayne.

After a few weeks to digest conversations and new thinking in some of the IBC2023 sessions, an expert panel convened to discuss transformative tech, what in particular has stood out in late 2023, and where the industry is likely to head in 2024. The webinar panel was sponsored by Tedial.

Tedial Julian Fernandez-Campon headshot

Julian Fernandez-Campon, Tedial

Julian Fernandez-Campon, CTO, Tedial kicked off the discussion, highlighting that although AI will be increasingly at the forefront of technical solutions - “I think all my panellists will agree, [there] will be a lot of AI solving many different problems…” - it will not be a panacea.

“One of the things that we’ve been asked by potential customers is about cost optimisation and flexibility, because [the problems] they want to be solving are very specific, and they are not keen to replace the whole system that they have already operating,” he summarised.

Watch the IBC2023 Webinar - transformative tech on demand now.

Jeff Davidson 3x2

Jeff Davidson, Cognizant

Next up Jeff Davidson, Chief Architect, Cognizant noted down some of his key trends: “I would say the key trends are cloud, and cloud native maturity across the vendor community, that’s really emerging. As far as AI is obviously the trend, I would say that within that there are real supersized expectations. Everyone wants to know how to approach it, how big is it going to get, what is it going to look like, and I think that level of expectation is really something that everyone is having to contend with.”

Cloud still a key talking point

Increasing levels of sophistication in terms of solution demand were highlighted by Jonathan Solomon, AWS Principal Partner Solutions Architect, Media & Entertainment, who stepped up next. “Our media buyers have [to date] really just been lifting and shifting, if you will, which is taking existing application software then running it in the cloud. Now there’s more interest in what’s running on the cloud, how can we make it more efficient and what are the opportunities, so transformative would be a really good word to use.”

Jonathan Solomon

Jonathan Solomon, AWS

Aditi Pandey, Head of Vendor Management & Partnerships, NRK rounded out the panel, commenting: “I think one of the key trends I saw was broadcasters, especially broadcasters moving towards technology for broadcasting perspective. The vendors are trying to move to cloud native, they are working in cloud native technology, so [are] quite transformative in their thinking.

Adity Pandey

Aditi Pandey, NRK

I don’t think they’re quite there yet. I think we are still seeing a lot of hesitancy in adopting best practices. There’s a lot of talk of AI but I don’t think that I found AI [has very many good] available use cases - I don’t believe that automation should be retreaded as AI and sold across to us - I’m a little bit on the edge on on how applicable AI is in our industry.

“Finally for me, I think what I was also interested to see is the overall hesitation to embrace technology for the sake of it. I think we are still struggling with inflation and other economic/ macroeconomic crises that makes us all - both from the vendor side and buyer side - a little reluctant to be very investment oriented.”

AI and Ethics a Central Concern

She continued to crystallise her thinking on AI: “I think first of all we need to, as an industry, come together [and agree] what AI really means. [Do we take the] the traditional technology definition of machine learning as a concept based on different defined statistical models, whether it is large language, large language models or data analytics?

“I think we all need to first agree to various definitions, and I don’t think that we have done that yet. Those use cases [that I mentioned earlier] - I think there are a lot of use cases - we are trying and testing out many different tools and services in the News area.

“I’m not saying that there is not an interest, but there is a hesitancy in terms of real understanding of what that black box really holds. What do the large language models really hold for us and how is it developed?

“What are the ethical considerations? As a broadcaster we are very, very keen on making sure that we hold ourselves to our promises and our charter of being fair and being equitable towards all our audience.

“There’s a lot we can do with AI but there is also a question on how fair it will be for our audience, whether we will, by embracing technology without understanding it, exclude certain groups in society.”

“I think we need to keep on experimenting, but we also need to be cautious about those experiments and learn and improve from them. As a buyer when I’ve been out, I’ve been focusing a lot on broadcasting, which has not yet embraced AI to be honest…”

Huge Potential for AI as Digital Enabler

Davidson took a different view on AI, pointing to the potential for AI to power wider digital transformation in production and business processes.

“I would say that any broadcaster now is in the process of transforming themselves into a general media company, so it’s not just about broadcast, but I would agree that there’s some work to do.

“You know, although there are obviously licencing issues, there are many other issues around the use of generalist AI tools. I think you can’t deny the value of the copilot function - they say artists borrow, great artists steal - what that means is that great artists have the ability to synthesise ideas into the creation of an original work. Just to be able to generate images, text ideas, without using them directly, I think it’s really great for artists who are always looking for ideas to steal or to synthesise and adapt. I think it will have a massive impact, even aside from the other challenges that people are aware of.

“I think the other incredible impact that will come is really in what I would call data driven automation. The impact of the summarisation features of foundation models on the wide swath of analytics, predictive modelling, business intelligence reporting. That’s part of all aspects of the media business, and [AI will] have a huge impact.

“Although there’s a fair amount of training and tuning to be done around the models and how to really apply that in a way that’s reliable, as well as to be able to get to a state where we can issue simple natural language queries against our enterprise data, and get reliable, meaningful results.”

Watch the IBC2023 Webinar: Transformative tech on demand now and get the full range of insights from the expert panel. Alternatively, check out the full on-demand IBC webinar catalogue and/or register for any upcoming IBC 2023 webinar topics that appeal.

Read more IBC365’s 2023 webinar programme