Let me take you on an imaginary tour of a car factory. The production line is largely automated, with all the parts appearing at the right point and the right time to be fitted. Cars are spray painted by robots.
Given that there might be several levels of trim and maybe a dozen colours offered for a single car, plus a range of factory-fitted options, the number of variations are huge.
Car manufacturers – like much of industry – recognised early on that the way to business efficiency was to minimise costs by doing everything just in time. Parts from external factories are delivered at the point they are needed so they do not need to be stored. Individual cars are built to order so that the finance time between factory gate and getting the customer’s money is as short as possible.
To make this work, they invested in business process management, which effectively made all their systems talk to each other. When I order a car in SE Lux trim, midnight blue and heated leather seats, the salesman in the dealership’s computer effectively talks directly to the production line computer, ensuring that all the parts for my car are placed on the production line at the right moment.
Now let me take you to the marketing department of a major television channel – almost any channel except yours, I would suggest. They will want to produce trailers to promote new series, and will commission them from post production. If it is an in-house post facility, they will probably have no real idea how much that campaign costs.
Or let me take you to a newsroom, where the assignment editor has just identified a breaking story and sent a journalist and crew off to dig into it. The story has to be covered: that is what journalists do. But is there any really clear idea of how much that story costs?
Finally, let me take you to the machine room of a broadcaster, where the chief engineer is suggesting that there might be a bottleneck in processing and buying two more transcoders will solve the problem. The engineer’s gut instinct is probably correct. But how can you be certain.
Bringing the principles of business process management to broadcasting aims to answer these questions. If you take an enterprise view of all the resources – human as well as technical – and all the workflows, then you can see how slickly the whole operation is working. You can monitor it, and maybe even command it, from a business point of view, not an operational or technical point of view.
By tracking all the workflows, you can see where the bottlenecks are. If the queue for transcoding is large, then yes you do need to add more hardware, and you can instantly justify that decision.
Most important, you can keep track of how much things cost, so you can make sensible decisions. We spent $X on the marketing campaign for the new series, but it won us Y additional viewers and thus $Z in revenue, so it was a good thing and we should do more of this sort of thing.
Conversely, you could use the same enterprise view to see that delivering catch-up to a particular consumer device might bring you $X in additional revenues, but if you need to spend $Y – where Y is much greater than X – in additional hardware and services to support it, then you might make a business decision not to offer your content on that platform.
Broadcast management systems are all about being more effective as a business, allowing you to make decisions which are based on accurate, relevant information.
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