A couple of weeks ago, a group of us packed our bags once again for the IBC Show, held every September in Amsterdam at the RAI Exhibition and Congress Centre. From Film and Motion Picture – to Broadcast – to Playout Services – to Media Asset Management and everything in-between, there is no doubt that it’s advantageous for any company in the M&E market to place themselves amid the top industry influencers from around the world. The numbers aren’t quite in from this year’s show but we do know that there was a record attendance somewhere around 55,800 attendees over the course of the week – drawing in a global gathering and representing over 160 countries.
With the IBC Show, comes an unparalleled opportunity to discuss, strategize, and gain new perspectives on the industry, technology, and your respective business. The global theme for this year’s IBC was “transformation,” which was naturally fitting for us at Wazee Digital – having undergone a massive transformation over the past couple of years and continue to do so every day as we are ever-evolving…adapting and staying ahead of changing technologies, industry shifts, and market demands while staying true to our vision and mission. The IABM Breakfast overview stated that the M&E market is declining and that the days of proprietary hardware are becoming extinct – it’s all about software running on commodity hardware in cloud environments. And I have a few sentiments around that topic.
Though before I delve into the details of IBC, I want to speak to one of the most rewarding aspects of traveling to IBC, and that is traveling with colleagues. Between the borderline excessively long flights, to trams, and impromptu meals, the opportunity to have conversations that you may not have had otherwise and not to mention learning things about each other that you likely would not have ever learned had you not biked to-and-from the IBC Show and the hotel together everyday – this aspect alone makes the trip worth the investment every single time. Though I will say, the synergy this time with the group that went was uncanny. Representing Wazee Digital at IBC this year was: Harris Morris, Chairman and CEO; Mark Pougnet, COO/CFO; Greg Loose, SVP, Product and Engineering; Allison Coquet, Product Line Manager for Wazee Digital Core; David Candler, Customer Solutions; Sally Wallington, Sales UK; and myself, Andy Hurt, SVP, Marketing & Business Development. The seven of us undoubtedly met our purpose – and then some.
Some photos of our travels from this year’s IBC Show
There is something to be said for being on the show floor, though this year, we took a different approach and set-up camp in the IABM Lounge and we couldn’t be more pleased with this decision. Being in the lounge gave us the space and time to have strategic meetings amongst ourselves, with clients, partners, and other interested parties. And, it allowed us to walk the show floor at our leisure without the superfluous lead-gen laser tag. In other words, we were able to get shit done.
Having the ability to step back and walk the show floor rather than being on “booth duty” talking with people who, candidly, have no intentions of buying anything, I took in a very different perspective of the exhibitors. I have spent over 15 years in M&E and feel like I know the space relatively well. However, when looking at the booth exhibits along with their respective messaging, it felt like there were thousands of companies that all do the exact same thing. Cloud, Workflow, Metadata, APIs, Content Enrichment and Monetization – just to throw a couple of industry buzz words around. What I find interesting is that most of these companies are what we would call “cloud washed.” In other words, they throw their hardware and perhaps software in a datacenter and call it “cloud.” I can say this because at Wazee Digital, we built Wazee Digital Core with the Cloud in mind and never intended for Core to run in a proprietary environment and behind a firewall.
Au contraire mon frère…. Our vision has always been to leverage a distributed and cloud-native ecosystem and for our software to run outside of the firewall so that content can easily be discovered, transformed, distributed, and monetized via Wazee Digital Commerce platform– our licensing arm of the business. For those of you that don’t know, Wazee Digital’s DNA as a company comes from hosting and archiving content that ultimately we have the rights to license and sell to third parties across a browser-based Digital Asset Management platform, Wazee Digital Core. I like to think of our asset management software akin to iTunes for music. A simple yet robust application that allows an end user to search, discover, transform, and monetize video, audio and still image assets. We work with rights-holders to implement ways to generate revenue leveraging our APIs rather than having a mundane conversation around reducing costs or enhancing workflows. Our story is about helping organizations monetize content by making it discoverable and accessible in Core so that third parties can find the content and ultimately license it through Wazee Digital on the behalf of the rights-holder.
So what the hell does this all have to do with IBC?
Well, on one hand, the aggressive marketing around Cloud and Monetization validates what has been Wazee Digital’s strategy since we launched our first product in 2002. It also means that the level of competition is going to ramp up dramatically as the entire industry is attempting to take a giant leap across a massive chasm from Hardware to Software with the ultimate goal of being a native SaaS provider. I also see a world where value props need to align with monetization and revenue generation rather than simply cost savings. I can’t wait to see what IBC looks like in ten years and which companies are successful in their transition from a pure CapEx to an OpEx model with the ultimate goal of enabling new or augmented revenue streams.