The rise of the internet has brought with it some important things, perhaps the most notable is ‘convenience’. Despite the fact that it is vast and sprawling, the internet allows us to access all the things we need in one place, coordinated and collated in a way that best serves our needs.
We see it in many daily applications; food delivery services that give us access to hundreds of restaurants, email clients that bring together communications on a single platform, online marketplaces that offer practically every product in the world, and deliver them to our doors with little more than a click. Comparison sites for insurance, travel, cars, houses… Everything we need is drawn together in one place, allowing us to choose and access the best option for our needs quickly and easily.
So, with this focus on convenience driving competitive forces in consumer markets, it can seem a little counter-intuitive when B2B markets appear to be actively avoiding the concept of convenience. This is certainly true in technology markets – and the broadcast market can be as guilty as any.
In large part, this seems to be because – until recently – there has still been an antiquated mentality held about what it means to be ‘competitive’. Outdated notions of zero-sum games have seen some manufacturers create products which are designed to only work with products from the same range – forcing broadcasters to purchase new equipment and make it work in their existing systems. Building a broadcast infrastructure can be a nightmare of seeking out solutions and then trying to make them work together. It’s long, expensive, tedious, frustrating and ultimately – counterproductive.
Bad for one, bad for all
The thing is, if a manufacturer’s business strategy is built on artificially tying the customer in to the product range by denying them the capacity to choose outside of it – that’s a pretty short-sighted strategy – especially when it is compounded and exploited with premium pricing. It won’t take long for customers to become resentful of their lack of choice and the exploitative nature of the practice. And when they get the chance, they are going to jump ship, and they won’t look back. Manufacturers are shooting themselves in the foot when they shun interoperability in favor of their own exclusive product ecosystems.
And worst, it’s bad for the industry as a whole too. If each manufacturer operates by ‘tying in’ their customer base, that provides little incentive for that brand to push the envelope when it comes to technological development, because they can rest on their laurels knowing (or at least, believing) that their customer base is in effect trapped in a singular product ecosystem, doomed to throw good money after bad because of the sunk cost fallacy.
True competition ought to see manufacturers ‘winning’ their customers by providing compelling products which offer progressive functionality and high value. And the advent of IP has made this way of doing things all the more compelling. There’s now little reason to exclude interoperability from your products when the fundamental base of them is unified on the basis of a single IP structure.
The Sencore Philosophy
At Sencore, we’ve been against outdated notions of singular brand ecosystems right from the start. We believe that broadcasters should have access to whatever equipment they need, and be sure that it will work together seamlessly. Indeed, it’s what our essential product philosophy has been built on: making disparate technologies and standards work together for broadcasters, so that they can pick from the whole gamut of technology available on the market and customize a holistic solution that is tailored to their exact needs, rather than forced to rely on arbitrarily and artificially limited product selections. In essence, we make technologies talk to each other.
You can see it embodied in all Sencore solutions. Take for instance our DMG 7000, an internet distribution gateway designed to handle a number of different protocols and standards – including SRT, RIST, Zixi, HLS and MPEG/IP, and make them work seamlessly together. Another example is our VideoBridge monitoring tools to oversee complex networks comprised of disparate technologies; be they terrestrial, satellite, cable, OTT or IPTV. Our focus is how to achieve interoperability, even in cases where the original manufacturer was dead-set against the idea.
Our vision for the future
For us, this idea of interoperability is only the start. We applaud the companies who are ‘accommodating’ competitor products, but we want to see an industry that goes beyond the mere minimum. We want broadcast manufacturers to do more than merely facilitate their competitors, we want them to actively embrace them; to work with them. It’s what we’ve started to refer to as ‘competitive collaboration’; a mindset that recognizes that there’s room for all in the industry if we work in a united way. By working together each manufacturer can drive the overall standards of the industry further, whilst still being able to carve out their own space within that wider market.
Industry standards organizations and alliances are working together to create a shift in mentality that we’re seeing across the industry – both working from the ground up, and sometimes trickling down from the top too. And at Sencore, we’ve got big plans to push this idea even further. At IBC (Booth 1.F72) we hope to show you that we don’t just talk the talk, we walk the walk when it comes to the idea of going beyond ‘mere interoperability’. We’ll be showing our customers, business partners and industry peers what it really means to coordinate, collaborate and create a truly holistic and harmonized broadcast ecosystem. We hope you’ll be there to experience it with us.