What is in this article?:
- Using business process management to succeed in a world of TV everywhere
- Media businesses and SOA
Media businesses and SOA
Although DPs or editors may view their part of content production as creative, in reality the distribution and delivery of television programming can be viewed as a content factory.
The business processes in the factory include sales, acquisition and channel management. The staff running these processes are not concerned with which make and model of transcoder is used or how the media storage is designed. Their focus is on revenues, margins and costs.
Running a broadcast operation requires the management of content — both programs and commercials — through many processes before the final transmission. A typical business process could be “prepare this movie for air, and transmit at 9 p.m. on Friday.” To implement this process, the broadcaster will have designed a workflow that orchestrates many tasks and activities.
However, monitoring the processes, following content as it moves from one operator to another, and from one department to another, is difficult. An executive may rely on monthly reports from supervisors. These do not give a detailed view of how the business is running, how efficient it is or how efficiently resources are deployed.
The old way, moving tapes from one department to another, could be managed, but it was difficult to get an overall view of the efficiency of operations. Department heads provided a filtered view of operations under their command. Staff could confuse the status of jobs.
The linear nature of tape operations led to a rigid style of operation, with tapes passed like a baton in a relay from one operation to the next. Even with the move to file-based operations, much of the workflow orchestration was by files being saved in watch-folders or e-mail notifications to the next operator down the line.
It is difficult to analyze or audit such operations. There may be logs stored by individual workstations or software applications, but there is no federated view. BPM changes this by two means (shown in Figure 1):
- Management dashboard. To give a comprehensive view of the business, the operation of the workflow and underlying technical processes must be presented in a simple, customizable interface that can present key information to the executive. This is referred to as the “dashboard.”
From the dashboard, a manager can check the utilization of equipment or human resources and view any bottlenecks, like files waiting from transcoding, and take correctional action. It allows better intelligence to make decisions on strategic issues, such as capital investment vs. outsourcing.
- Service-oriented architecture. An uconventional view is to look at broadcast operations as a number of services: ingest, transcode, edit, etc. These services are then orchestrated to speed the program from ingest to air. The existing method of orchestrating processes is through a mix of written procedures, e-mail notifications, work orders and even phone calls.
Services could be called from a Web interface, much like the travel booking example. But the real strength of the SOA is when the workflow is orchestrated by a middle layer of software. This middleware carries out the business requests from the BPM and calls on the services to implement those business operations. Flowing the other way is reporting on the services, which allows the BPM to view the operations and to optimize them if required.
File-based operations remove many of the constraints on operations, allowing processes to be orchestrated in a way that serves the needs of the business, rather than as dictated by the limitations of the medium that carries the content (videotape).
Services can be provided within the facility, or they could be outsourced or even cloud-based. Through abstraction of the service adaptor, the workflow orchestration engine calls a service, whether it’s in the same room or on the other side of the world.