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The cloud future of MAM

Vidispine CEO Erik Åhlin analyses the past, present and future of media asset management

The development of Media Asset Management (MAM) systems has slowed down. There is no doubt that when MAMs first hit the scene around 15 years ago, they were the saviour for broadcasters heading into digitalisation. However, the world of content has moved on since then, while MAM developers seem to be stuck on-premise with products that are not adapted to a content anywhere world.

The days of MAM
Back in the day, MAM was seen as an innovative product, solving complex challenges and ultimately bringing broadcasters into the digital world, making them much more efficient despite the rise in content and platforms.

In the beginning, it was all on-premise, and although highly innovative, MAM meant a monolithic system with significant upfront investments, perfectly suited for big broadcasters with vast catalogues of media and deep pockets.

Fast forward to today, and almost anyone is a content provider, creating an environment where the amount of content and workflows varies hugely between different organisations. Not only that but the content is being delivered to more platforms than ever before, and with innovation happening all the time, this will only increase. Naturally, what works for a large broadcaster generating hundreds of videos a day will not work for a small company creating a few videos for marketing.

The cloud
Cloud technology is one of the hottest topics of discussion right now, in our industry and across many verticals, with broadcast workflows beginning to move to the cloud. It started a few years ago with a few early adopters experimenting with cloud infrastructures, which brought important efficiencies. We have now emerged from the experimentation phase and are beginning to see widespread adoption, especially in content distribution. Indeed, according to the recent Digital TV Europe cloud video transformation survey, 14.5% of respondents say their content distribution workflow is now 100% cloud-based. A further 30.1% claim over 50% of their distribution workflow is cloud-based.

What these early experiments, and since then more widespread adoption, have proven is that the cloud has massive potential for improvements, changes and cost efficiency. For the user, being able to scale up and down at any time is an obvious plus point, especially as it means you no longer have to pay for unused service. It has also been a critical part of levelling the playing field between large and small, as niche content providers can access the same technology and innovation as the large broadcasters.

Cloud’s impact on tech and the MAMs
The move to the cloud will have some significant implications for the technology providers right through the supply chain. MAM is one major area that will feel the brunt of this, mainly because MAM providers have for the most part been sitting back on their laurels with regard to the cloud, comfortable that MAM is a crucial part of the media workflow and would therefore never be redundant. Think again!

Just as OTT means broadcasters can deliver the right content choices and packages to individual consumers, MAMs need to deliver the right services to the right customers when they need it, not upfront. With the cloud comes the potential for flexible business and pricing models, enabling customers to pick the services required, and crucially only pay for those services used. This is a vital part of any cloud deployment and will be critical for the future of MAM.

The future is utility
Despite the apparent doom and gloom for MAMs, it does not all have to be. MAM systems perform an important function that will only get more important as the amount of content and variety of platforms increases. However, a change in mindset and approach is desperately needed to ensure that MAM’s will continue being a part of the media supply chain.

The cloud brings with it some challenges for MAM providers, but a move to the cloud and a shift to operating as a utility service will mean a not so cloudy future for MAM.