"Be careful not to innovate yourself out of business"
David Dowling, Ross Video's VP of Sales EMEA & APAC, warns us to keep site of customer concerns in a shifting tech landscape
As we look back on another BVE, much talk around the hall and bar (which was sponsored this year by Ross Video – shameless plug!) revolved around IP and which manufacturer is offering what solution, followed by a debate of the merits/benefits of off-the-shelf products versus proprietary solutions, and vice versa. While every technology industry needs ‘the next big thing’ to keep everyone on their toes and keep the wheels of product development turning, many of us have been here multiple times before and have seen plentiful helpings of red herring along the way. I’m certainly not saying that IP is going to wither on the vine and die – very far from it; we all know what an important role it will play in our industry’s future – but the pace of progress does seem to have slowed a little since IBC and we have to be careful not to lose sight of what matters to customers today. Or, to put it in the words of David Ross, our CEO, “you have to be careful not to innovate yourself out of business”.
The more I travel and visit customers, the more I see broadcasters and content creators facing very similar problems and pressures, most notably the need to create more compelling content that maintains or grows audience share with flat or decreasing Cap-Ex and Op-Ex budgets. Throw the increasing fragmentation of the broadcast model into the mix and its clear that the job is a tough one and broadcasters need help. Despite the industry obsession with emerging platforms and technologies, I still think a great many customers are interested in workflow simplification, product integration, efficiency improvements and the ability to save money in the short to medium term. These are the conversation topics that can add real value to our customers’ businesses in the present climate. At Ross Video we’re certainly well placed when it comes to the IP discussion – we have representatives on several of the standards committees and we have products that are IP-ready today – but a visit to our booth will show that we’re still heavily promoting solutions that offer the improvements in efficiency, integration and cost of ownership that I mentioned above.
Another key topic that comes up time and time again in conversation with customers is creativity. We work in an industry that has experienced a creative revolution over the last decade thanks to YouTube, social media and streaming. As barriers to entry tumble and the technology required to create and edit content becomes much easier to access, where does this leave ‘traditional’ broadcasters and the manufacturers who have traditionally supplied them? In a surprisingly healthy place, I’d suggest, especially from a live production perspective. There is nothing quite like the excitement of live production and we’d all like to see more of it on air. Fortunately, companies like Ross Video are helping drive down the cost of live content and providing the tools to make it more creative and more accessible. As an example, virtual studio and sophisticated augmented reality solutions can add eye-catching graphics, animations and set-designs to live productions. We’ve enjoyed a great deal of interest in virtual solutions recently and I’m looking forward to seeing what other creative tools are around the corner.