The axiom “we’re all software companies now” is true now more than ever for the media and entertainment industry. With cinema chains locked out of business thanks to COVID-19, many exhibitors and the studios that supply them have had to adapt to branded digital offerings.
While media companies, as in every other industry, were forced to scrabble for digital solutions for business continuity and remote staff-client communications this past year, the need to leverage technology isn’t temporary.
Rather, M&E must become technology-driven organizations, as they continuously explore new ways to disrupt with end-to-end entertainment experiences.
That’s the contention of IT services provider Softtek. Writing in the MESA journal, the firm’s Jorge Zarur argues, “The current demand of information and entertainment requires strategic planning thinking, not just as a standalone exercise, but in terms of enabling core capabilities to rapidly respond to ongoing market disruptions.”
But it’s more than that. In order to thrive in future, M&E organizations must achieve a sort of singularity: “the fusion of technology in the form of AI, automation, big data, biometrics and apps, with the traditional operations of the industry such as logistics, financial systems, supply chain and HR platforms.”
IT cost optimization is at the forefront of many companies’ cash preservation activities. Interestingly enough, Softtek says savings from optimizing IT assets pales in comparison to optimizing business processes using AI, machine learning and robotic process automation. This includes companies operating theme parks, cinema complexes, or large gaming operations.
Zarur also suggests that some M&E executives “dreamed of touchless, end-to-end, app-based entertainment systems” that would enable their customers to have a big screen experience at home complete with sound, lighting, popcorn, soda, and movie reviews.
For one unnamed “large cineplex operation” Softtex did just this. During the pandemic it enabled box office titles to be streamed to living rooms and combined this with UberEats delivery of food to augment the ‘moviegoing at home’ experience.
“A huge effort was made to accelerate and adapt content based on restrictions in over 20 countries,” Zarur says.
The common theme can be summarized as the need to be ready for the unexpected. Being prepped for the future requires organizations to rapidly adjust to unexpected situations, to protect their business and that of their clients and rapidly capitalize on new market demands and opportunities.