After speaking with a number of European media companies over the past year, I had high hopes for IBC making a triumphant return, and the good news is that it did not disappoint! With very few European representatives attending NAB, we looked forward to seeing many of them at IBC, the first major industry event in Europe. Thankfully, the COVID-19 pandemic is diminishing, and people are feeling more comfortable traveling and attending industry events. While the audience drew more from the European region than in prior years, the opportunity to meet face-to-face was encouraging and exciting.
Business as Usual?
In many ways, IBC was a return to normal, at least in terms of interacting with industry colleagues … far more so than at NAB, which was still a trial run of sorts. When you see lines around the building to get in on the first day, you know there’s an excitement about getting back to what people have missed for three years. I actually didn’t mind the lines. For sure, they were surprising, but they were exhilarating all the same.
Inside the hall, the energy was every bit as strong as it was the last time we had IBC. Sure, we had 30% fewer attendees, and the halls were configured for that attendee reduction, but the show floor felt almost as normal as the last time we all got together. Kudos to the IBC organizers for the way they managed the hall layouts to maximize that energy.
In our stand, meeting after meeting started “It’s so great to see you again!” It reminded me of what I love about this industry: the fact that relationships matter. Our industry is based on trust, and “selling” is less about selling and more about building and maintaining trust. We spend years building relationships between vendors and customers, and I think both parties appreciate that. It creates a working model where vendors have their customers’ backs, and customers treat vendors as partners. With that as an underlying platform, great things can happen.
Energy is a hard thing to define, but ask anyone who was at IBC and they will tell you that there was an energy about the show that rivaled (or exceeded) that from 2019, the last time we had IBC. I’m glad that SDVI could be a part of that this year.
Power of Partnerships
My second takeaway from IBC2022 was the role and importance of partnerships between multiple vendors who serve the M&E market. This is no longer a market where one company can do it all. Vendors need to stop claiming to offer an “end-to-end” solution to a customer’s problem. There is no such thing. Solving customer problems is an effort to bring best-of-breed tools to the various problems that need to be addressed. No one vendor has it all, and certainly doesn’t have best-of-breed solutions for every problem.
Once vendors realize that they can’t do it all, and that they need to work with other leading companies, the magic can start to happen. They start being more honest about what they can do well and what they need other partners to help with. At that point, you can put together consortiums that start to solve customer problems in ways that any individual vendor cannot. A great example of this at IBC2022 was the IBC Accelerator project called the Cloud Localization Blueprint, which brought together almost a dozen vendors and customers to define a best practice reference architecture for moving the localization supply chain to the cloud. This project is an industry game-changer, as it identified each of the roles that different companies play in the supply chain, and how they can work together to standardize the localization process.
Moving media supply chains to the cloud is an important step in achieving greater efficiency and agility, but a lot of that depends on many different vendors working together. The good news is that vendors (and end users) are recognizing that requirement and doing the hard work to integrate on behalf of customer success. Moving to the cloud demands that multiple software products work together, and it’s encouraging to see so many vendors embrace integration as a fundamental requirement.
The Move to the Cloud
My third takeaway from IBC2022 was the increased role of the cloud in customers’ workflows. “Cloud” is not some esoteric notion; it’s a fundamental reality of media infrastructure going forward. Every customer is looking for guidance on how to utilize it. Every vendor is claiming that their “software” is now cloud-enabled. What’s disheartening is how many vendors are misleading customers by claiming a cloud capability that simply does not exist.
I’m constantly surprised at how many vendors promote a “lift and shift” model to the cloud. Porting an application to the cloud does not make it “cloud-native.” To take advantage of the elasticity and scalability of the cloud, applications need to be written specifically for cloud resources, not on-premise hardware moved to the cloud.
The real benefit of the cloud comes with vendors who reimagine their tools as cloud resources, taking advantage of the scalability, resiliency, and elasticity that the cloud provides. Giving customers fungible, on-demand capabilities that scale up or down as needed is an imperative of the cloud model. And it’s what customers want. They want to match the resources they consume to the workload at any point in time. They want the near infinite scalability that the cloud provides so they are not limited by past decisions on infrastructure deployments.
IBC this year was more than just a trade show. It was a chance to reconnect in a very personal way with customers, prospects, partners, and industry colleagues. From our booth to the Beach, we enjoyed every interaction we had. We’ve missed so much of that over the past three years, but we are glad that the industry seems to be on track to normalcy again. I’m already looking forward to the next industry event.