Building Seamless Broadcast Workflows
Few could have predicted the impact that the pandemic would have on our working lives. Technological shifts that were cautiously underway have leapt ahead, with media companies adopting hybrid working practices and harnessing the capabilities of the cloud.
Encouragingly, many broadcasters have found that these changes have been a net positive, far beyond the initial goal of maintaining business continuity, improving flexibility, accessibility and even employees’ work-life balance. However, some remain reluctant to fully embrace the transition.
The good news? The necessary technology to build seamless hybrid workflows which combine the best of both worlds, is available to broadcasters – it’s just a matter of integration.
The shift to hybrid and cloud-based working is undoubtedly a complex one. Broadcasting teams routinely work with petabytes of data, to monetise that content effectively, editors need instant access to decades’ worth of valuable archive footage. But many broadcasters are working with the restrictions imposed by legacy infrastructure, not suited to modern media workflows and high consumer demand.
There is also the collaborative aspect to consider, teams are used to working side-by-side, making decisions, and coming up with fixes in real time. Throughout the pandemic we’ve all had to get much more comfortable with connecting with colleagues remotely, but it isn’t always easy to replicate the energy of in-person working – especially when you consider variables such as home environment and its impact on working hours and response times.
As well as full-time employees, media companies must also consider integrating freelancers into their workflows. A geographically dispersed workforce can certainly bring benefits in terms of flexibility and creativity. But an agile team that can be online at any time of day, is ultimately hamstrung without instant access to all the necessary assets and streamlined editing workflows that can be managed remotely. So how can broadcasters navigate these challenges?
The Way Forward
Many media organisations have recently taken advantage of cloud-based spin-up, spin-down infrastructure in order to facilitate remote working. With careful monitoring, broadcasting teams can maximise the efficiency of remote editing workstations by checking how many are in use, and which users are connected. Different instance profiles can be created to provide users with simple, workstation deployment with a couple of clicks, with no specialist technical knowledge required. A combination of on-premises and home working will likely be the new normal going forward, and media companies can optimise physical space by ensuring that workstations can be accessed both on-site and remotely.
Our work with A+E Networks UK provides a useful case study. Four years ago, the team called upon 7fivefive to completely overhaul its network infrastructure, a process that involved a partial move to remote editing. The combination of on-premises and off-site infrastructure enabled a seamless transition, as VP of Technology and Operations for EMEA Matt Westrup comments: “The editors saw no difference working remotely. When we reached capacity at our facility, they could either dive into a remote edit station on-site or opt to work from home. The whole team adopted it seamlessly, there was no learning curve, because it mirrored the on-premises setup they were used to.”
Once the pandemic hit, 7fivefive then helped A+E Networks UK to rapidly adapt, expanding the number of users with simultaneous access to higher-powered machines and providing enhanced capacity for employees to work at home just as they would in the office. 7fivefive helped A+E Networks to nearly quadruple its capacity in a very short space of time. In fact, the company noted that the overall quality of work actually increased, despite these new circumstances and limitations.
Navigating the Transition
When embarking on such a transition, keep in mind that individual organisational needs will necessarily require individualised solutions. Even within the same industry, no two businesses are exactly alike, and deploying a one-size-fits-all solution risks more headaches down the line.
The key thing to remember is that, behind all the technical language and logistical considerations, companies are made up of individuals, all trying to perform well under difficult and varied circumstances. Transitioning to a hybrid working model must naturally benefit the company first, but it can only reach its full potential if it takes into account the needs of broadcasting teams. After all, the cloud is there to work for you – not the other way around.