IBC2019: In this complex and rapidly evolving industry, close relationships between media firms and their suppliers are essential, and IBC2019 is the place to forge those ties, writes Peter White.

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Peter White

20 years ago, broadcast and media end-users came to IBC mostly to see the latest technology and discuss how they could apply it in their businesses – based on a single distribution platform model and one suite of technology. Today, it’s a multi-faceted business and profit margins are squeezed through the higher level of competition and the advent of free content setting consumers’ mindsets on a different model.

Visitors to IBC are now arriving with a requirement to create media factories producing content for many platforms - including social media and behind the scenes stuff. To achieve this, broadcasters need to be run like automotive or aerospace manufacturers where decimal points in costs matter. It’s a fine line between profit and loss and driving efficiencies and optimising output at lowest cost is the prime consideration. IBC today is about looking for partners to help them deliver this successfully.

Those partners are still of course offering technology – but technology that facilitates the dynamic, multi-platform world we live in - enabling the drive for efficiency and new services as the industry transforms from a linear, push mode to one driven by consumers demanding content, anywhere, any time on any device.

This scenario is starkly illustrated by the growing dominance of ‘makes us more efficient/saves money’ and ‘makes us more agile/responsive’ in all the recent editions of IABM’s Buying Trends Reports. Today, the value of a technology solution is assessed by buyers against these criteria: it either opens unexplored opportunities such as new revenue streams and quicker service deployment or enables them to carry out existing activities at lower costs. These same considerations are also increasing M&A activity on both the demand and supply sides of the industry. Broadcasters’ search for scale – physical and geographical – to compete with the digital giants is a major driver, as well as buying-in specialist capabilities to kick-start digital operations. The search for scale is also driving M&A activity on the supply side as margins and development timescales are squeezed.

It’s an immensely complex world and is driving closer relationships between broadcast and media companies and their suppliers across the board; collaboration is key to success today – and IBC provides the perfect platform to enable this. As a European broadcaster told us in a recent IABM Buying Trends Report, “We are not looking for products anymore, we are looking for partnerships where product development is driven by our requirements”.

And that’s why IBC is even more pivotal today than it was 20 – or even 50 – years ago. Business and margins are now totally driving technology choices, dictating a shift in technology demand in favour of direct-to-consumer platforms. This in turn requires speed to quickly adapt to continual market changes – which is increasingly being achieved through software, the cloud and AI/ML technology.

This is all driving a significant rise in partnerships between media technology suppliers and their end-user customers as they strive to build ever more efficient and agile content supply chains to capture and retain audiences across multiple platforms. Today, IBC is about beginning and continuing the conversations that underpin these close relationships.

Shared vision
The first requirement of any collaboration is a shared vision; do both organisations see the future unfolding in the same way? A good place to start is with roadmaps – buyers now have a front row seat in future technology development, driving roadmaps along with their suppliers. To help this process, IABM has recently unveiled our Technology and Trends Roadmap, a blueprint for common understanding which can be customized to each company’s exact requirements, providing a baseline to enable companies to quickly compare their ideas. You can download a copy from the IABM website.

“The first requirement of any collaboration is a shared vision; do both organisations see the future unfolding in the same way?”

The IBC Future Zone has always been a great place to look further into the future – to see the next generation of broadcast and media technologies. Following its highly successful debut in 2018, the Future Trends Theatre within the Future Zone – curated once again by IABM – is returning with more than twice as many presentations across a huge range of future-looking topics. The presentations are designed to give attendees an understanding of new technology and business trends and how they can enable business plans now; to illustrate this with practical, real-world use-cases; and look beyond the horizon at emerging technologies that will bring new possibilities. The IABM Future Trends Theatre is running from Saturday 14 through Tuesday 17 with continuous presentations and is open to all IBC visitors.

As I said earlier, today it’s all about changing business needs – collaborating to drive industry transformation and keep ahead in our ever more rapidly changing industry. IBC is the perfect environment to make the right connections, understand current and future industry trends and the technology that is powering them. IABM is proud to be an IBC partner and to be providing platforms for collaboration that will ensure all our continuing success.

Peter White is chief executive, IABM

The IABM is one of IBC’s owners. Visit the IABM at the Partnership Pavilion stand 8.F51.