A Commencement Address to the Broadcast Industry
Broadcast and cable networks, local affiliates, content providers, distributors and other distinguished graduates of this most recent era of the media and entertainment industry, today you embark on a new journey, a yet-to-be-written chapter in the history of this venerable and world-changing institution.
That stored history has delivered you to this moment. You stand upon the precipice of change. The past few years have left little doubt that the television industry is forever altered. Video content has never been more popular and more in demand. But the means and methods of consuming that content are radically different from just a few years ago. Now is the time to embrace that change, by marshalling the knowledge of next-generation technologies and business models that you have acquired over the past few years and applying it to the future.
Now is not the time to mourn the decline of traditional business practices and longstanding value chains, but to celebrate the opportunities that lie ahead. Commencement, after all, means inception or beginning. You stand at the entryway of a new frontier. It’s time to move forward, to fearlessly confront whatever lies around the corner with the same spirit of invention and anything-is-possible entrepreneurism that defined the first 75 years of this medium’s existence.
Putting Knowledge to Work
The good news is that you are not pursuing the next phase of your existence unprepared. You’ve spent the past few years soaking up knowledge, gaining familiarity with the underlying technologies, including IP and virtualized environments, that will provide the foundation for future and unprecedented advances in agility and flexibility. You’ve witnessed the business-expanding capabilities that the cloud and shifting operations from hardware to software will bring and, in some cases, have already launched real-world implementations that are paying immediate dividends.
As you contemplate your future, you may be justifiably anxious. Change is never easy and the inertia of “the way things have always been done” can sometimes be tyrannical, forcing businesses to adhere to past practices and conventional thinking when they should be boldly confronting emerging business realities.
Nerves are normal. But keep in mind that you have much in your favor to assure your success.
For starters, you’ve been here before. You’ve dealt with change and evolution from the very beginning. Whether it’s moving from black & white to color, analog to digital or HD to UHD, you’ve had to graduate to a new tier in the technology landscape on a regular basis. The television industry is one of continuous innovation and you have more advanced degrees than you can count.
Admittedly, the current technology curve is on the steep side. But that just means the opportunities, and potential rewards, are also exceptional. In the end, though, the move to generic computing and networking platforms, as well as the coming assimilation with the IT industry and datacenter culture, is just the latest in a long line of television industry technology transitions. Ten years from now, when you reflect back on this day, what seemed like a major milestone will be for the most part another rite of passage in the ongoing transformation of the television industry.
Another advantage you enjoy is the inheritance of the most vibrant technology palette in the history of the television industry. Content producers and distributors have never had so much to work with. Advances in resolution and color depth make it possible to create video images that come close to delivering all of the vividness and acuity that the human eye can handle. The Internet now provides a conduit to nearly every person on the planet, giving new meaning to the term “mass media,” but at the same time enabling degrees of personalization that have never been possible in the past. Content and commercials can now be customized to meet the requirements of increasingly narrow audience niches, down to the individual viewer.
And no other graduating class has ever been so free to explore new business models and new ways to monetize content. Your creativity is now unbounded, clear of the many financial and technical constraints that have prevented you from introducing new services or exploring new markets in the not-so-distant past.
You are also among the first to have access to a bounty of deployment options. The untethering of technology from purpose-built hardware means you can have your choice of deployment models, from a premises-based approach to the cloud, as well as an intermediate, or hybrid, model that evolves with your business. No longer is there just one way to launch a channel. You are now capable of not only doing more, but of doing more faster and less expensively than ever before.
Embracing Tomorrow. Today.
Also at your disposal is the ability to embrace tomorrow without sacrificing investments made today, or even yesterday. The ability to leverage hybrid architectures that let you exploit the benefits of next-gen architectures without ripping out existing infrastructure or accelerating buying cycles gives you the flexibility and control needed to reach your destination on your terms and your timetable. A well-defined and enthusiastically embraced standards roadmap is also in place, ensuring that all future investments will steer clear of proprietary technology dead ends and maximize your ability to leverage a vibrant and hyper-competitive market place.
So, put your trepidations aside. From an innovation and opportunity standpoint, there has never been a better time to be in the broadcast business. You can go as far in the future as your imagination will carry you. You have the knowhow and the opportunity to eclipse all that has been accomplished in the first 75 years of this incredible industry. Graduating class, the best is yet to come. Go out there and change the world — again.
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