Media for 2017: The Future Is Here!

Last year, I predicted that the only constant for the media industry would be even more, radical, unpredictable change.

I couldn’t have possibly been more right! The ways people find and consume information and how media organizations can realize and increase the value of their content and data continued to rapidly evolve in 2016.

With the role that fake news, feeds and direct access to the public played in the biggest political events of the year, the changes in the media industry were not just conversations within the industry, they were front-page news!

The takeaway from these big events and the many other disruptions across every part of the industry is that the real role of media organizations —creating trust — has never been more important.

How do you maintain your place in the industry and stay ahead of the many changes to come?


Key Challenges for Media Organizations in 2017

  1. It’s all about data: Once again data is at the forefront of every conversation. Investing in a strategy to capture and curate all your data has never been more important but putting it into action is far from easy. This is not just your content but how your customers consume it and how contributors of all kinds fit in your domain. This could be the single most important move your organization can take and doing it right and doing it as an executive priority is critical to your organization’s success. Here are some guides to get you started:

    – The data-driven approach was first proposed for publishing by Dr. Sven Fund with this paper (now in English).

    – Shelly Palmer highlighted the importance of this for EVERY media organization, saying you are either data-rich or data-poor.

    – And our customers like ALM put this into action with great results.

  2. Operations come to the front: We live and work in a world of constant change, so how can we manage that change? More than just a ‘shift to digital,’ taking a close look at operations can radically improve how we get content and how quickly and effectively we can deliver it. But it can also be a giant hairball of complexity. One place to start is with data – visibility across the supply chain is a big driver of our work in entertainment. But the bigger shift is to think about the entire content workflow as a true process and supply chain. In early 2016, MarkLogic had the chance to work with the Entertainment Technology Center at USC on The Suitcase to explore the impact of better managing metadata on the production process (for more see this article).It’s a now a topic at nearly every one of our customer meetings. Make 2017 the year you take a new approach to optimizing how you get content and deliver it!
  3. AI and machine learning are here to stay. Everyone has heard that age of automation is upon us, but is your organization ready for the changes? AI and machine learning techniques are developing rapidly and are more viable than ever. These techniques can mean huge reductions in the cost of content processing and tagging, changes in how content is created and changes in how it’s delivered. But this isn’t something that you can just buy and plug in. Tailoring it for your domain and applying it to benefit your customers and audience takes time and, critically, takes good foundational data. If you haven’t already started to adopt these techniques in your organization, this is the year to do it. Bots that write content and bots that deliver content are here (and people are already publishing guides to adapt) – the question is will they be your bots on your content? Or someone else’s?

Trends to Watch

  1. No Interface: 2016 introduced most of us to mainstream VR. The current kit is bulky, the lag and images aren’t perfect but there is no doubt that it works! 2016 also saw Alexa and Google Home take voice activation mainstream and even talk to each other. Working from different ends, these are all leading back to a trend from 2015: ‘no interface.’ This is a logical step from how we at MarkLogic first helped people deal with mobile: create information and then package it for delivery (as opposed to creating the entire package for each format). But now the challenge is bigger. It’s about creating a complete interaction – information, audio and video – and then packaging THAT for delivery. Like AI, this is something that will take time to develop. Getting started with VR and voice in 2017 will set you on the path for the new no-interface world. But first, have a look at the original manifesto from Golden Krishna.

    “vr-tour“

    Matt Turner gets into the act with the VR book experience from MarkLogic customer VLB-TIX at the Frankfurt Bookfair

  2. Information Access: Across the media industry, access to content is still a big issue and an area where some of the hardest problems still need to be addressed. In the information industries where content is licensed to large organizations, the RA21 initiative from the STM Association is looking to address this core issue with non-IP based authentication to get access to content. It’s not sexy (I’m looking at you VR) but it is fundamental to get right so that customers can get to content they trust and pay for. Across every part of the industry, delivery paths that include social media and devices are now the norm. If you aren’t looking at or helping define how your customers get access to your content, make it 2017 the year this gets on the agenda.
  3. Live events versus on demand and scripted: At our MarkLogic World Event in 2016, I did a lightning round with customers from the world of entertainment. Representatives from Warner Bros., NBC and The ETC Center were on stage and at the end of the session (recorded here) I asked a couple of questions that highlight what I think is one of the most interesting trends to watch. The only rule was you couldn’t give ‘both’ as an answer: Would live events or scripted content have a bigger impact on the industry? The panel split 2 for scripted and 1 for live events. Which will be more popular with kids, watching video games or playing video games? Again the panel split – 1 for watching and 2 for playing. This is the tension that will play out this year and probably for years to come as we all try to make meaningful content that will impact our fans and customers AND want that content to be fresh and even live if possible. Stay tuned for how this plays out in 2017 and beyond. Will Woody Harrelson’s Lost in London start a trend of watching movies get made? Will the video game world cup surpass the real thing? One thing is certain, the answer is actually ‘both’: live and scripted will be with us for a while.

What Will 2017 Bring for You?

No doubt it will be full of changes and unexpected events.

I hope it will be a year of great progress for media organizations in which adopting new strategies like leveraging data and harnessing AI and tackling old problems like streamlining operations and access control will help focus on what really matters: Delivering the valuable content and data that our fans and customers know, trust and love.

Matt Turner
From New York in a New Year 2017