One Must Have an End-to-End View of the Workflow

Manas Mati

The name of Walt Disney is synonymous with creativity, family entertainment and some of the most recognizable characters anywhere in the world. The organization is also known as one of the most admired companies that is run as efficiently as one might possibly run a $48 billion-plus diversified media and entertainment empire.

A similar stream of creativity and efficient operations defines the character of Disney India as well. I recently had the chance to meet Manas Mati, the company’s Executive Director and Head of Technology, at his Mumbai office.

Now, Disney India is one of the most digitally evolved organizations in the Media & Entertainment (M&E) space in the country and I was curious to understand how it manages its operations like a smooth clockwork and was also eager to get some insights from the man at the helm of all things Digital.

On the question of how the company has been able to seamlessly integrate its operations, Mati said, “When we were building up our facilities, we wanted to run completely in a digital environment. Whether it is vocal processing, dubbing, content acquisition, syndicating content…all of that had to be stitched together through workflows. We took the best practices from different markets, as I have worked in various places over the years.”

Such an approach certainly worked to Disney India’s advantage, as the company is able to work on any content piece in a digitally connected environment.

Mati believes that most successful companies in the media business are able to visualize operations from the demand side and the supply side together and not in isolation. “Given the large spread of content we produce, acquire or aggregate and the sheer number of distribution platforms we need to deal with, we wanted to ensure that we make this end-to-end journey in the shortest possible way,” he said.

For one, there are multiple content/file formats Disney has to deal with, and then there are compliance requirements and process checks as well. To handle all that volume efficiently, what the company does is content prioritization. (For media companies, it is very important to do the proper prioritization of content, something which is lacking in many firms).

Disney India uses a media asset management system (MAMS) to schedule or prioritize work for the resources. This helps the employees see—when they come to work and log into their systems—what all they need to work on and in which order of priority.

The content service providers that Disney India works with, for instance the subtitle vendor, can upload the respective content piece (audio or video file) directly into Disney’s systems rather than email it back and forth. This also cuts down on precious time and adds to a smooth workflow.

“It is very important to have an end-to-end view of the workflow. We have done automation to a level where, say, the video editor can start editing a clip from an exact marker rather than having to look at the entire clip,” said Mati.

Also, transcoding of content is done automatically to make it usable across different platforms based on their formatting needs—be it television, mobile, over the top (OTT) or whatever.

Having done all that, the challenge now is how to make things more analytics-driven. The idea is to get even better insights into the operations—are they fully optimized or is there any leeway somewhere.

As an example, he shares that just because more high-definition channels are to be launched, it does not necessarily mean that more storage space is required at the back end, because one also needs to take into account how the content is getting utilized in reality. The whole pattern of usage has to be analyzed to be able to optimize the resources and allocate the most appropriate medium for a specific type of content.

All these automation and optimization initiatives help the company to run a much leaner and efficient organization.

While much of the public attention is on films and TV content, Disney India has a sizeable and fast-growing gaming business. For its gaming platforms, the company has to analyze which games are being downloaded frequently, what is the rate of return of different games, what kinds of handsets most people use, etc. “If we know the answers to these questions, we get to know our users better and can serve them better,” said Mati. It goes without saying that for such a large number of transactions, analytics plays a very important part.

Mati is also taking the initiative to move the existing tape-based storage to a disk storage system, to take care of the next level of expansion. It would bring in a lot more discipline in content management, which will be more beneficial in the longer run, feels Mati.

Another area Mati is looking at is digital publishing. The challenge here is how to ensure that for the content digitally published across different platforms (whether owned by Disney or other content partners), the rights of the content are honored across the whole value chain. Indeed, how to have a more sophisticated rights management and content scheduling system. Such a system, Mati says, should be able to decipher whether proper rights for a content piece scheduled at a particular time have been obtained or not. So the rights management is being tightly integrated into the entire workflow at Disney so that there is no infringement at any stage or process.

For this, it is important for the company to know the available inventory of content and their rights in various territories or geographies so that the same can be monetized optimally.

Mati says that it is very important to prevent piracy or copyright infringement from happening in the first place. Besides following strict security policies and controls, Disney tries to ensure that the partners to whom it provides or distributes content have put in place the necessary security measures and are ready to receive content in a secure manner.

Mati feels that with a huge young population and tremendous demand for bandwidth, India will continue to struggle with mobile connectivity issues for some time, so we’ll continue to play the catch-up game. Still, it is improving steadily and people are able to use higher-definition videos. Streaming is certainly the way forward and it won’t be limited to videos or entertainment content only; even learning content, training and other content will be streamed down the line. Of course, the partnership parameters for developing a streaming ecosystem are yet to be seen in India. (And that, in my opinion, will depend on how 4G takes off and whether the whole telecom tangle is sorted out in time.)

The ultimate vision and goal for Mati? Continuing to work on the least-cost model to provide the best-quality content that is multi-channel-ready.

Talking about the media in general, he believes that, going forward, things will be more flexible, less people-driven and more technology-driven for sure.

Looking at Disney India’s experiments with digital and the cues from digital media leaders elsewhere in the world, one can say that media companies in India would need to run with leaner operations than they currently do—if they wish to remain competitive and relevant in an increasingly digital and convergent world.

Categories: Digital

About Author

Orange Themes

Sanjay Gupta

Sanjay Gupta is former Editor at Grey Head Media....

Read more

Write a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*


Recent Comments