Let’s Talk TMT: In Conversation with Ben Blomfield, Key Takeaways Post-IBC

We sat down with our new managing director of UK and EMEA, Ben Blomfield, to get his thoughts on IBC.

Q. What makes IBC special or unique?

I’ve been going to IBC for the best part of 15 years, and it has always been the time and place to catch up with colleagues. In Amsterdam you’ve got all the right people, either from an engineering or account management standpoint, to have meaningful conversations about the leading trends and top issues coming to the surface for the industry.

Q. What were your first impressions of IBC2022?

IBC2022 was the first IBC we’ve had in three years, and it was great to be back on the show floor once again. Those impromptu 30-second or even two-minute meetings, especially, are such an important part of the IBC experience. They’re the equivalent of water cooler moments, something you can’t simulate in a virtual environment. All of that in-person interaction was fantastic.

Q. What were your expectations going into the show?

In terms of expectations, going to IBC was an opportunity to start to talk about TMT Insights as a company and as a brand. While it’s becoming established in the U.S. and has a good reputation with major broadcasters there, the name isn’t well known in the UK. So our goal was to explain what we’re all about, introduce people to the services we offer, and help potential customers get to know us as subject matter experts in the field of media and entertainment and technology, and particularly the media supply chain.

To that end, we approached conversations and communication in three ways:

  • First was the very light social interaction and just talking to our networks and discussing what we’re all about. 
  • Second was an executive dinner we hosted that allowed the TMT Insights team to spend time with influential executives across the media supply chain business and across media in general. Through these conversations, we were able to learn more about where these businesses are now and the issues they’re facing at the moment. 
  • Third was focused conversation with existing or prospective customers buying services from TMT Insights to find out if we can answer any questions, help accelerate a system integration, or otherwise provide additional care with a personal touch. 

Q. What were the major (or most notable) themes at IBC?

Over the past couple of years, the industry has gone through a massive change driven by COVID. While the operations, product, and technology teams weren’t given unlimited funds, they were given sizable amounts of investment to get their content into the cloud and get it working. Now, some time has passed, and we’re consistently seeing the refinement of those business models.

 Here are a few themes that I felt were most prominent this year.

We’re starting to see a transition of power where the CFO is the driving force rather than the product and the technology functions. 

People are asking, “How much is that costing us?” So, media organizations have moved operations to the cloud, and now they need to make them really cost-efficient. How do you do that? By refining business models and reimagining existing cloud-based supply chains. And, of course, that’s what we do. We understand the cloud, we understand the financial modeling around managing the cloud, and we understand the complexities of integration. So, what we heard at IBC reinforced the direction we’ve been going and the work we’ve been doing.

The industry is slowly catching up in terms of gender equality, diversity, and sustainability.

We’re seeing the increased representation of that within businesses, as well as a commitment to sustainability. Sustainability is part of the agenda and does carry weight in Europe, and it will be an interesting trend to follow and be a part of.

The ever-present rise of FAST channels.

As the model develops and grows, FAST channels are interesting to watch because they leverage existing broadcaster technology (from a scheduling standpoint) and then OTT streaming, as well. It’s worth watching too with subscription television now on the decline.

Finally, from our perspective, the most interesting theme — and one specific to IBC — is the impact of the IBC Accelerator Program. 

IBC built out eight different accelerator programs to tackle different challenges facing the media industry, and one program resulted in a cloud-based localization blueprint. It speaks to the need for scalable and cost-effective localization as demand for content grows and becomes increasingly global.

The resulting blueprint presents a real opportunity for us to provide support from an implementation standpoint. We’re well positioned to work with all the partners involved and to do the work required to integrate various systems and manage implementation to provide different value points along that supply chain.

Q. Any takeaways to share from the TMT Executive Dinner?

At the executive dinner and beyond, we saw that there is an industry need for people who have a deep domain knowledge and understanding of what it is to drive a media business from a technology standpoint. All but the Tier 1 players are looking for subject matter experts that they can bring in to solve a problem or specific business need and then move on. Because no single company can provide all of the solutions needed to solve all workflow issues, the real solution is to work with SMEs that have a strategic understanding of the challenge, a technical understanding of component systems, experience working with partners to integrate them, and a successful history of implementing the desired media workflow. 

For TMT Insights, this means that we need to continue listening and communicating so that we truly understand every customer’s business model and the services that will support their needs.

Q. What do you look forward to between now and IBC2023?

I’m excited to see how the various IBC Accelerator Programs positively affect their specific areas of the industry. From what I’ve seen, they’ve created a good foundation for making a difference. Participating companies have gone through a whole load of research and done all of the hard work from a theoretical standpoint, but practically, what does that mean to the industry? We’ll see in coming months, and I feel confident that TMT Insights will play a role in supporting practical implementations.

In fact, my main takeaway from IBC is there is an immense amount of opportunity for TMT Insights to continue to grow at the same level in Europe as it has in the U.S. The opportunity is there, and we are well poised to continue more of the same work that the U.S. team has done.