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IP Infrastructure Is Ready For The Challenge

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In this second of two articles, Tom Swan, Sales and Marketing Director of dB Broadcast, explains how the system integrator keeps abreast of all the changes as the market undergoes rapid transition.

Q: In such a rapidly changing market, how can a system integrator like dB make sure it's right up to date, especially with the transition to IP / IT infrastructures for instance?

Systems integrators (SIs) necessarily work at the cutting edge of broadcast technology. Ensuring that they remain well informed and able to incorporate the latest thinking and techniques is naturally important. While many SIs will rely on contract staff to meet this challenge and to cope with fluctuations in client demand, as one of the country's leading SIs, dB Broadcast has a different approach. For the last 18 years, we have maintained a policy of recruiting and training talent in the form of recently graduated engineers. dB's policy is to build its own in-house team of expert engineers, skilled in addressing the specific issues of broadcast technology as well as using contract engineers to fill peaks and some specialist roles. This practice has been remarkably successful: in fact, some of earliest graduate recruits still work in the company. Currently experiencing strong new growth in the business, dB has recently taken on three new graduate engineers to provide engineering resources for project design, testing and after-sales support.

We have various strategies for developing knowledge capital within our business, including training, careful recruitment and partnering with recognised industry experts. Before you can do any of this however, you need to have a clear vision of where the industry is heading and what services it will require in the future. In the case of 'IP', well we've being doing this for years now in the control and file domain. It's rare for a project not to have a significant network design and integration element. So we already have many of the base skills in house and continue to invest in staff training. In terms of other areas which are transitioning to IP, we're part of that change and working with customers on ever more IP centric solutions. There's nothing like real life projects to develop really deep knowledge.

How big a change did this mean for the company?

dB Broadcast identified changes afoot in the broadcast market place several years ago, and formulated a five year strategic plan to focus on the new technologies now emerging. First came a restructuring of the Engineering Department with the focus in two key areas: i) traditional elements of the business (broadcast systems engineering/wiring); and ii) new technologies (including IP based infrastructures, the Cloud, Channel in a box playout solutions and non-linear delivery). Staff development has been at the forefront of the company's strategic plan. We have invested heavily in training – both engineers in the new technology and wiring personnel on IT/data type techniques (including fibre termination and Cat 6) – and they remain committed to continue this investment, ensuring that we continue to offer clients informed technical solutions.

How will the transition to IP affect demand for your services; will there be an increasing demand for major SI projects and consultancy?

With any major industry transition, there's an associated spike in consultancy engagements while the knowledge and techniques develop and disseminate. We're already seeing an upturn in activity, and consultancy is an increasing part of our business. In terms of systems refresh, you have to look at the business case in each instance. You also have to understand how the environment is changing and how new technologies can be applied to gain competitive advantage. IT technology has become sufficiently mature on a variety of vectors to really change things and the software to make this happen is looking really good. The concept of a broadcast facility and its boundaries are changing. There are some really transformative opportunities in many areas right now.

So is it business as usual for SIs, or do you expect your client base to change?

As SIs, we have to transform. The industry is undergoing fundamental changes and its boundaries are rapidly eroding, however it will still require deeply skilled media IT specialists to elicit business requirements and transform these into solutions. Equally, our industry skill is becoming more widely relevant. More people are doing more things with media than ever before. We're engaging with non-broadcast industry clients. The future will look different. These are really exciting time and we're going to see some really interesting developments both within the industry and outside of it.

The first 'IP Infrastructure Is Ready For The Challenge' article, also by Tom Swan, can be viewed at BFV online here.


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In this second of two articles, Tom Swan, Sales and Marketing Director of dB Broadcast, explains how the system integrator keeps abreast of all the ch
IP Infrastructure Is Ready For The Challenge
In this latest article, Tom Swan of system integrator dB Broadcast considers the extent to which IP / IT infrastructure is ready for all the challenge