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MAKING CONTENT WORK
Media conglomerate Viacom is working with Microsoft to digitize its content libraries. And the company expects to be able to make its assets work harder once they are fully digital, says CIO Joe Simon.
Owning iconic media brands such as MTV, DreamWorks, Paramount and Nickelodeon, Viacom is among the world’s leading players in the broadcast industry. And, as such, like other global media players, the company has a huge and ever-growing library of content items–shows, movies, audio and the like. Managing this library, given its size and the complexity of Viacom’s many routes to market, is a major challenge.
For media companies, program assets are sources of both opportunities and potential problems. Opportunities, because the modern converged world provides almost unlimited openings to reuse content across multiple platforms, meaning that the heavy investment needed to produce exciting content can be recouped more quickly, and the potentials for ongoing revenue are enhanced; but problems because the sheer scale of a media giant’s production and content management operation makes for a logistical challenge more akin to a distribution or manufacturing supply chain environment.
This is why media companies have sought for some time to digitize their content. The storage and movement of huge numbers of video or audio tapes is an expensive business, with many potential disconnects.
As with previous Connections featured company Ascent Media, Viacom’s solution is to digitize content, and to invest in the development of a digital asset management (DAM) system to keep track of, and better utilize, that content. CIO Joe Simon says that, although a relatively recent convert to the DAM mantra, he sees clearly the benefits the system could produce. “We have been looking at DAM since 1998,” he explains. “But for much of that time, it always seemed like a solution looking for a problem. DAM is like a big database, it’s an enabling technology that allows you to do other things with your data. You don’t implement the database for its own sake: what you are really implementing is a system that uses that database. DAM is a tool that allows us to find new solutions to some of our business problems.”