M&E Journal: The ‘Platform-etization’ of Hollywood

Guy Finley will be among the presenters Feb. 27 at the Smart Hollywood Summit in Los Angeles.

By Guy Finley, President, Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) –

The transformation of the M&E industry has been a process, much like our own internal business processes, that has evolved over years. We accept the things that we can’t change and now make progress where we can by collaborating in ways we never thought imaginable just a few short years ago.

One trend that has grown increasingly in the last couple years is the embrace of platforms and microservices to increase productivity, efficiency and monetization. This “platform-etization” of Hollywood means we are no longer simply “upgrading” a process by using digital tools, rather, we are tearing it down and rebuilding the process on cloud-based software/systems to discover new ways to interpret, share and collaborate both internally and with business partners. We’re weaving a fabric of interconnected platforms for our industry’s future.

It is a VERY exciting time for service providers and we are seeing this platform-etization approach across every part of the content creation chain. And it makes a ton of sense! Do we really need more e-mails and spreadsheets in our lives? Are we finding new and exciting ways to have spreadsheets and e-mails communicate with each other? There’s a resounding NO coming out of IT and operations departments everywhere! And, rather than just automating an age-old process, why not double down on the software revolution and turn all that data into a fluid stream of productivity that only a platform approach will allow?

We are seeing a growing number of companies embrace AI, machine learning and remote process automation. We need to funnel that increased intelligence into meaningful solutions that transform our employees, the human element, into an indispensable workforce that has the abject ability to analyze based on business experience rather than process learning. Anyone can learn a process but our minds have the uncanny and unique ability to synthesize past experiences into practical, real-time knowledge that impacts immediate business decisions.

The bottom line is humans are a necessary part of our future and we need to champion experience above processing power, while leveraging the increased power of platforms when reorganizing our business units.

The power of platform

But when do we realize the power of platform? Only when we’ve made the complete leap. When every process, across every business unit, has become part of a platform will we begin to see how truly advantageous the investments we’ve all made in this ecosystem transformation are paying off. When platforms communicate with each other in the cloud they bring a certain anonymity to our “snowflake” workflows that exist in every business unit — greenlight, production, post, legal, distribution, etc.

For years we’ve talked about the “one-button transcode” where we can instantaneously deliver assets to every region in the world with limited human engagement, but in a platform driven environment we now aspire to a “no-button transcode” fueled by smart contracts, IMF, OTT transmission and a connected consumer. We would not have dreamed of this as a reality just a decade ago … it was always too expensive, too difficult and far too long-ball for any executive to make the initial investment.

But now, as the platform-etization continues, we see light at the end of a very long tunnel. And the agnostic and anonymous platform approach is giving us clues in how we will interrelate in the future. Our concerns about “who” sees “what,” when, where and how is alleviated by the conditional and restricted access to data that only platforms can provide. And, when the platforms begin to communicate it opens executives’ eyes to the inefficiencies of the past while inspiring a new approach to collaboration.

The platform reduces our passionately built business supply chains into pure, communicable data that can be leveraged to fuel new ways for us to monetize our content and increase revenue for our industry. Growing the pie, as well as your slice, and everyone benefits from the collective data pool. This is our FUTURE!

This revolution reminds me of the early days of MESA when our members worked diligently on the physical disc supply chain to encourage our industry to do the same. The major difference now is in how we’ve transmuted the (literally) physical barriers to digital hurdles and the speed in which we leap to the next level is increasing exponentially. We used to rely on standards and best practices that were developed in committee and working groups to inform our “data decisions” but now we use software as the catalyst to react to a business unit’s need for increased transparency and our “builds” transform the platform or microservice to a practical process.

We still need standards, working groups and advisory committees but the focus of these individual’s activities will start to match the industry platform approach and become educated by data that is generated through actual use cases and user decisions within the platform. These groups will also start to drive software enhancement and development within these same platforms so it becomes a circuitous loop of implementation, feedback, analysis, improvement and back around again.

To be clear, we’ve only just begun. The fabric of the platform-etization of Hollywood began many years ago as single threads that were recognized as building blocks to our industry’s future. What a platform approach provides is the loom to get our threads organized and gathered together and we are beginning to see the fabric of our future as interconnected.

MESA’s communities are focused on data, IT and security — the fundamentals to any platform approach — and our members mission is to provide secure, transparent and enterprise integrated solutions to help our industry monetize and distribute content around the world. I can’t help but be passionate about the revolution and platform-etization of our industry and know you’re excited, too.


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