When considering the option to upgrade or replace aging systems, broadcasters usually just buy the newer version of the thing that they're replacing. In the last several years a new option has appeared, yet broadcasters have been slow to adapt. In order to keep up with the demands of the modern consumer (and advertiser!), stations are starting to look outside the machine room and into the cloud.
Software as a Service (SaaS) has been around for a while now, and there are SaaS options for nearly every part of the modern business. Not to mention many options for things like personal finance and photo management. For many established businesses, replacing dated enterprise software products with SaaS solutions is an obvious choice to keep costs down. Startups and new ventures embrace SaaS as a way to start with minimal expenditure on the tech required to build a business. For broadcasters and media companies, though, the decision might be less obvious. At Vidpresso, we think that this is certain to change. From where we sit SaaS is a great model for broadcasters. As the needs of viewers and advertisers change, SaaS will be the only way for broadcasters to stay competitive.
Broadcasters are accustomed to buying real hardware—real chunks of metal and plastic that sit in a rack and spit out functionality in exchange for electricity and a comfortable living environment. This equipment will go on like this for years because it has to. When you've paid 4, 5, or 6 digits for a piece of hardware you're forced to eek out every bit of utility. If something new comes along you need to wait for your next refresh cycle, potentially years down the road, even if it means you'll be at a competitive disadvantage. If you need to adapt to the needs of your advertisers and audience you have to wait until the equipment has been fully depreciated or write it off. We think that SaaS is the solution. While we're not ready to replace all the infrastructure (a router in the cloud might not make sense just yet,) why not take advantage of modern technology to handle your graphics? Why not build your rundowns and schedules in a browser?
When you decide to switch to a SaaS solution you're not buying hardware. For a lot of folks this is a problem. As a SaaS provider we think this is one of the key benefits. We use the best-of-the-best computing technology to build our solution. Data and processing loads are distributed around the world. If there is a natural disaster, we simply shift our entire software "stack" to another data center and continue on our way. A big part of the SaaS model that is often overlooked is that last "S", the one that stands for service. When you engage with an enterprise software-as-a-service vendor, you're not just getting the software, you're getting the service. In our case, this means that our entire professional staff is at your disposal—an email, text, or phone call away. We don't charge extra for service and support. Can you say that about your broadcast hardware?
Here's another benefit of the SaaS model: Remember that professional staff I mentioned earlier? They're constantly talking to customers and keeping track of the state of the industry and improving the product to match. At Vidpresso we're constantly improving our product, and the nature of SaaS means that you get the new features and performance enhancements automatically for free. We're able to take feedback from you and make the product better. We're not limited by multi-year development cycles. Often, we can fix a bug or release a feature in a matter of days.
In the end, though, the biggest benefit of SaaS for broadcast is not about the technology at all. Simply put, innovation is much slower in an environment where everyone has invested hundreds, thousands, even millions of dollars in infrastructure meant to last for many, many years. When they do adopt new technology or methodologies, it simply gets tacked on to current processes. With each thing that gets added on, the efficiency of the process diminishes and the headaches for your staff increase. With SaaS, your organization can adapt to the marketplace and your staff can create compelling content that meets the needs of both your audience and advertisers.