More than video, we put data first
Wouter Slot is the Divitel COO in charge of all processes and resources to design, build and operate the video delivery solutions
Wouter Slot, COO, Divitel
Q: What do you see as the main IT challenge that the video industry is facing today?
A: Just like in many cases, the video industry is dealing with a Before and an After scenario. Before the internet and after the internet. In the before, watching TV was an analogue, one-way street. The only things we could do were change the channel or turn off the TV. After, we have suddenly gained the ability to interactively watch, pause, replay and catch up whenever, wherever we want, not only on a TV screen. And we have become quite demanding while doing it, expecting a high level of quality and a superb viewing experience. Is this a problem? For many companies, what it is, is complex. What is so hard about this? Everything! To our customers, dealing with this complexity is a big challenge. To us, it is our mission.
Q: Can you explain what you mean when you say that everything is complex?
A: Well, maybe not everything is complex, but there are certainly two big issues here.
The road to get video content from its creation to the device is long. Operators, content providers and broadcasters must: 1- not only learn, study and find the many different types of technology and let them work together, but also 2- operate their services in an efficient way, allowing faster times to change with increasingly lower margins of error. While trying to implement this, they all have limited resources, in an industry that is becoming more and more hyper competitive and users (the viewers) who are free to easily switch services after only one bad experience.
Even if you succeed in overcoming this first technology hurdle, the next one is there waiting for you: deeply affecting Operations. You have a limited number of people who are doing the best they can to get to the data that they need, in order to ensure timely fixing of failures (such as buffering, freezing and the likes). In comparison to the technology challenge, this is an even bigger obstacle, because how are they supposed to do this efficiently, when the generated data is stored in different IT silos? Some of the data can be found in the cloud, some on premise, some you do not even know where to find or if the data even exists... How do you get the end-to-end overview and the situational awareness that you need over the whole system, so that your people can effectively analyze root causes of failures? That is the second main challenge here.
Divitel operating center in The Netherlands
Q: Divitel has many solutions: from OTT / IPTV to Managed Services and Managed Mesh Wi-Fi: how are you using these services to help with the problems above?
A: At Divitel we have as many solutions as there are problems. And these solutions could be anything: from a full cloud OTT solution to a new feature added to an existing on premise or hybrid video platform. We look at the specific customer challenges and then offer a tailored, independent (no vendor lock-in) solution, based on the chosen strategy and the existing or non-existing technology. We Design, Build, Integrate and Operate video services.
Because we have over 20 years of video domain expertise and we also remotely manage video services for our customers, we are uniquely positioned with the required knowledge and experience to help our customers with the video delivery challenges they face.
Most importantly we put data first. We believe that data is the universal language that everybody in this business needs to start talking, in order to get a grip on the reality of video operations and speed up time to change without having to invest in additional redundant resources.
Dealing with the huge amounts of siloed data that our customers’ video systems generate and managing them end-to-end, we have been continuously learning all the possible scenarios about how video systems work. What we do, is leverage on that specific knowledge to create the best possible video services for an increasing number of players in this market, whose background may be different, but whose goals are similar.
Q: What does the future of video look like according to you?
A: Developing and putting into practice strategies, processes and operations to harness the power of data is something that will become imperative to survive and gain competitive advantage in the video industry.
For us, this means that our goal is to create and develop self-healing video systems. From our Operating Center in The Netherlands (see picture), we have been already training Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning, so that it becomes possible to automate certain parts of the video operation and even prevent failures from happening. While manually managing incidents, problems and failures, we are slowly but steadily training the system so that one day, not too long from now, it will be able to manage this on its own. When this is in place, human engineers will be free to better pursue less repetitive activities, spending more time on activities that generate new revenue and prevent churn, instead of fixing problems. The video ecosystem in place will continuously improve automatically and in the end, ensure competitive advantage in today’s marketplace.
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