Luis Esparza, VP Technology, Turner
How has your IT operating model changed during the last five years for the Media and Entertainment Industry?
It’s definitely been a period of dramatic evolution for the industry, with IT, broadcast and consumer technology converging, both leading and responding to change. Cloud-based technologies have enabled location independent operating models across the entire value chain, or what we call “glass to glass”—from the camera to the viewing device. For example, it is now easier than ever to language and post produce content from anywhere over the internet. Internet Protocol (IP) video distribution versus traditional broadcasting is another example of expanded reach and bi-directional interaction with consumers. Mobile represents another clear change in terms of media consumption and enhanced convenience for audiences.
In Latin America we have been at the front of this trend; cloud-based playout is well known to us and we are currently migrating core pieces of our media asset management layer into the cloud.
What do you think are the biggest obstacles that technologists face in working in a more agile and outcomes based model?
I am of the strong opinion that technology is in our favor—it just continues to evolve and that is a great advantage for both businesses and end consumers. The obstacle then is how to deal with the accelerating pace of change. One obvious challenge is how this affects investing cycles. In the past, we earmarked capital expenses for technologies and systems that were expected to remain viable for five years. Today it is hard, if not impossible, to think in those terms. Not only because technology in increasingly becoming an operational expense but also because product cycles in general are shortening.
Here at Turner we have set an ambitious goal to “re-imagine TV” and the international technology teams are actively engaged in defining both where we want to go and how to get there
Knowing how to invest in technology, training, and related areas has become much more complex. Part of the answer is to harness intelligence directly from consumers to drive business decisions, tech included. Comprehensive data technologies are now critical.
Moving from traditional IT to a service offering model requires a major mindset shift in IT. How did you make that happen?
We were able to shift mindsets by getting our teams to focus on the consumer instead of the next cool tech development, platform or gadget. If we truly put the consumer at the center of our decisions and focus on delivering the best media experience and products, then it becomes clear that internal developing is not enough and being a software factory is not efficient. We have to become technology brokers, integrators of the best possible services in the cloud. It is not a simple proposition; in addition to the cultural and mindset shift, there are also always issues that stem from dealing with legacy systems, security, compliance, privacy, et cetera.
What set of skills do you think is required for the technology leaders to be successful in the new enterprise landscape?
Complementing what I included in my prior answers, successful leaders need to embed in their teams and cultures the concept of orchestrating tech ecosystems versus building solutions. Also, data science is now a must. And, most importantly since IT touches the industry end to end, tech leaders must aim to add value and not only perform as a support function. Here at Turner we have set an ambitious goal to “re-imagine TV” and the international technology teams are actively engaged in defining both where we want to go and how to get there.
Which growing or future technology innovation are you personally excited about in the Media and Entertainment industry?
There are a few key innovations on the horizon that I am particularly excited about. Big data and cognitive technologies should yield important audience intelligence insights and automated content recognition (ACR) has various useful applications, from content quality control and monitoring to ad targeting. Finally, Virtual and Augmented Reality is another area I am following closely. I am interested to see how these innovations will impact our industry.