Cloud MAM – is it Clone Wars or A New Hope?

By Erik - September 13, 2017

With cloud technology now reaching a critical point in maturity, it is possible to build entire supply chains in the cloud. Pair that with organizations that are born cloud-ready, with little or no legacy, and a business environment that turns agility into a huge advantage. We are set to see large changes in expectations of the role “the MAM” will have for content owners and producers.

As in all changes you can fight or embrace. MAM vendors will have to do just this. You can decide that it will be a Clone War among identical solutions fighting for margins or a New Hope to be able to help clients in a new era of data-driven, highly efficient, content supply chains. To be successful, MAM vendors will have to rethink what, how and why they do what they do. They will have to embrace cloud logic of massive scale and think of their solutions as utility services.

Media Asset Management solved the first wave of digitalization of the broadcaster. Around 15 years ago we saw the dawn of MAM as we know it today by vendors like Dalet, Ardendo (acquired by Vizrt) and Blueorder (acquired by Avid). The implementations were highly bespoke and very valuable to the broadcasters, giving them an efficiency leap allowing the handle more content for less effort. The early MAM systems were on-premise installs with relatively large total investments and often substantial upfront costs.

Why cloud, why now?

Scalability is the first thing that comes to mind when talking cloud, and it is, of course, one of the big benefits. Properly built, you can get almost unlimited, instant, scalability without having to build your own data centers, leveling the playing fields between large and small players.

Scalability aside, another important factor is the access to deep technology you can get through the cloud, and there are two sides to this. One is that companies can get access to advanced technology that used to require huge investments, e.g., video analysis, AI or advanced QC, enabling them to focus on their core business instead of technology. The other side is that cloud enables small companies, or even lone inventors to sell their knowledge in the form of software or algorithms in the cloud, without having to build the infrastructure around it, allowing small vendors to hyper-specialize.

The third large shift is the normal cloud business model, where you have moderate upfront costs, and paying only for what you use when you use it. This model drives innovation in business models for other companies and encourages experimentation in both small and large organizations, experiments that might not have been possible before. We all have had the “I hear that you need $500k to test your idea – why don’t you prove it works first”, and the never-ending catch-22s.

So what does this mean?

Cloud is no longer an experiment, it has a place as a technology choice, but more importantly as a business choice. IaaS is practically a de facto standard where servers, storage, and infrastructure have moved to the cloud, and next up is the platform layer. The change will inevitably also affect the media industry when incumbents realize they compete with companies that curate all the content in the cloud; the content is born in the cloud and delivered in the cloud, thus creating efficiencies in cost and time. This change will create a race for efficiency in all layers, to compete with “born cloud” companies, leading to higher levels of automation and standardization, with bespoke solutions only for highly differentiating functionality.

Unless MAM vendors adapt quickly to a new reality of highly automated utility services, this software category will be a 20 year or so parenthesis in the media software history.

The complete supply chain that used to be managed by the MAM will need to turn into a utility service – and it is already happening with a first few offerings in the space. Unless MAM vendors adapt quickly to a new reality of highly automated utility services, this software category will be a 20 year parenthesis in the media software history.