From data gathering to regulation to new cloud service models, the industry’s adoption of new technologies will only accelerate in 2018.

Data regulation
With the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force in May this is the year media companies will enter a whole new regulatory environment on data use.

It has been described as the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. It is also occurring just as many media companies are executing strategies to gather and use more personal data than ever before, which means GDPR compliance is vital.

Facets of GDPR include consent, and the issue of how your organisation gathers, records and manages consent for personal data use; ensuring you can identify children and children’s personal data and the ability to detect and report data breaches.

Big data meets AI
It is hard to see how big data will not be a major investment focus for 2018. The reason? Board members in big media companies have embraced the importance of understanding the end customer, their behaviour and consumption patterns. This shift to retail type business models calls for data. But big data is not just ‘lots of data.’

Disney acquired 21st Century Fox

Disney acquired 21st Century Fox for $52.4bn in 2017

As 20th Century Fox showed with its data-first approach, media and entertainment firms have no shortage of data. What they often lack is the strategy to manage, process and use that data to inform the business.

Just days before it announced its acquisition of 21st Century Fox Disney chief Bob Iger wrote in the Economist: “This is an extraordinary period for media. Our industry is being transformed in ways we cannot yet fully envision. For the first time ever we have the means to build direct relationships with every consumer. The future will reflect the individual input from hundreds of millions of them.”

Cloud Computing
Cloud computing has been around for so long that it is hardly news. However, as is often the case in enterprise IT developments, adoption lags are common.

Cloud data centre

Cloud data centre

In general purpose enterprise IT systems running HR, CRM, financial applications and databases only around 10% of processing is done in the cloud.

The other 90% is done on traditional owned IT server, storage and network equipment in computer rooms and so called ‘on premises’ owned data centres. As a sector, BME will generally fit this profile.

Where the big changes will come in cloud computing for media are in the processing, storing and distribution of content.

Expect 2018 to bring strategic partnerships and big deals between traditional broadcasters and the main public cloud players.

Serverless computing
A cloud computing development, serverless computing is a method of dynamic provision of compute resources based on use. Instead of buying or leasing set amounts of capacity such as server processing capacity, customers will pay for only what they use.

Currently, serverless computing is mainly deployed as an application development environment allowing the developer to concentrate on the applications and not on the server backend capacity.

Amazon data centre

Amazon data centre

The service is responsive; think of it as turning a dial to access the required amount of compute. This could be especially relevant for streaming media applications where capacity management is key.

A surge in popularity for a particular event or programme won’t burst the capacity restraints or cause unexpected costs as your cloud provider has to provision additional capacity in real time.

Its an area of focus for Microsoft’s Azure set of cloud services  while AWS has its Lambda offering. 

Cloud becomes fog
Fog computing is a term developed by Cisco to describe the process of pushing cloud computing resource to the edge of the network. The technology facilitates efficient end point device engagement with cloud services.

As production, management and transport move to the cloud in 2018 this digital edge will become increasingly important to every stack in the broadcast value chain as latency dictates customer experience.

According to a Gartner report commissioned by Equinix: “Enterprises and vendors that don’t focus on new demands driven by edge computing will become non-competitive. The edge will eat the cloud.” 

Schneider Electric CTO Kevin Brown told IBC365: “When businesses in general started transitioning to the cloud services, there was this idea that outsourcing would result in a simplification of the way all IT services were delivered.

Kevin Brown

Kevin Brown

“However, what’s apparent is that centralised cloud was not designed with many business applications in mind. The result is that most now use a more complex, hybrid model consisting of cloud services, together with regional and local edge data centers.

“There is a tendency to focus on the larger facilities, where the majority of processing and storage goes on. These tend to be well invested from an infrastructure point of view. However, it is the smaller, distributed edge data centers which absolutely dominate the availability of the whole system.

“It’s edge data centers which enable the limitations of bandwidth and latency to be overcome in order to ensure customer choice and satisfaction. But it’s often these facilities which lack monitoring, cable management, physical security, redundant power or dedicated cooling.

“Edge computing has been described as the lowest latency point between a service and its consumption.”

Disruption in 2018

As disruption becomes the norm here are some big waves that will hit throughout 2018:

Net Neutrality
The end of net neutrality in the US will have major implications for TV owners, streaming services, telcos and internet service providers. But its impact will be felt far beyond the US. The EU believes strongly in net neutrality. Other countries have different regulations on ISP behaviour and traffic and content.

This could lead to a fragmentation of the internet and a highly complex legal environment with content coming under the jurisdiction of different data laws depending on its primary storage location (data sovereignty) and the networks and territories it crosses.

Streaming traffic
T-Mobile said it will offer a US streaming service in 2018 – so called Un-carrier TV. It says it will shake up cable and satellite in the world’s biggest TV market. Verizon is expected to launch its deferred streaming tv service early in 2018.

Bigger boxes
We’ll be watching content on bigger and bigger TVs. The demand for 65-inch plus TVs will grow by over 30% this year and we’ll be controlling them through voice assistants, according to predictions from market research outfit IHS Markit.