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BFV's Big Interview: Danmon Group

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This month, Broadcast Film & Video discusses System Integration, the future of broadcasting, and technical development with Christoffer Kay, Chief Operating Officer, Danmon Group (Dan Technologies A/S).

BFV: Danmon is a familiar name to BFV readers through its Systems division with Danmon Group Systems and ATG Danmon. When was Danmon established?
CK: Danmon Group has served the broadcast, media and entertainment business sectors for over 35 years. It began by supplying ship antennas for the Danish maritime. The company has since developed into one of Europe's major equipment suppliers and broadcast system integrators.

How is Danmon positioning itself for the future of broadcasting?
We cover a wide range of competencies and skills required in today's advanced broadcast and media sector within traditional broadcast, IT/IP, RF, satellite, audio over IP, virtual studios, archive & storage, OTT and streaming platforms as well as API and workflow management software.

The industry is moving into a world of virtualisation and cloud technology. Our focus is on reinforcing Danmon's position as a strong global player in sales, service and system integration to the broadcast and entertainment segment. This is about being able to understand the business challenges faced by customers. Not just the infrastructure but the ways in which new technology change behaviour among consumers. These changes in turn generate new broadcast business models including new modes of content distribution.

We have advanced from being a holding company with many autonomous units into a single entity operating under the name of Danmon Group. Local representation is an important element of this strategy. Even in today's connected world, customers appreciate fast local support in their own language. The combination of thinking globally and acting locally has proved successful in helping us support large cross-border customers such as Universal Media Group, Arqiva, Encompass and Ericsson.

Danmon Group is organised with local companies in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Great Britain, Germany, Vietnam, Spain and Portugal. Our focus over the past four years has been to integrate our various companies together into fully cooperating team making the best use of its skills and opportunities across national borders.

As an example, we recently delivered Scandinavia's first UHD channel for Viasat in Stockholm. For that project, we used resources from our companies in Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Spain. In this way, we could draw on internal specialist competencies that we could use instead of needing to call in external services which are often a necessary addition for smaller players in the market.

What is the key element customers are looking for in a system integrator?
Above all, experience. Reliability is the most important factor for anyone running a TV station and the fact that we can show we have vast base of successful system projects, tested and proven by real customers, has been important in winning many major contracts.

Is the group still expanding?
Very much so. We have acquired and created a number of new entities over the past few years. Most recently we have expanded in Southern Europe with the incorporation of Datos Media and since then negotiated the acquisition of Portuguese graphic software specialist Vantec which has over two decades of experience in designing and integrating virtual studios, robotic cameras and real-time 3D systems. The latest addition to the Danmon Group portfolio is Marquis Broadcast with proven expertise in file-based content workflow and deep understanding of software development.

We have also partnered with major players such as IBM as their business partner in the Nordics for their Cloud Video Services based on our proven deep domain knowledge and wide customer portfolio within the areas of broadcasting, media & entertainment and telco. Through its Cloud Video unit, IBM supports top media and enterprise companies with reliable video on-demand and streaming services. It delivers a broad range of video services spanning open API development, digital and visual analytics, simplified management and consistent delivery across global industries.

What do you see as the key areas of technical development?
Quite a number. Many broadcasters showed strong interest in IP as a potential successor to SDI but our view is that hybrid solutions are the way to go for the next few years.

Cloud-based data processing and storage in particular have the potential to transform the media business on a scale comparable with the transition from dedicated hardware to software running on standard computer platforms. Cloud-based playout is a good example as it allows a broadcast channel to be set up, populated with content and then scheduled for transmission entirely under remote control from the channel manager's desktop computer. It is ideal for new-start businesses with no existing equipment or technical resources. Established broadcasters can also use cloud-based playout to carry red-button channels related to specific events such as the Olympics, for permanent new channels or for site-independent disaster recovery facilities. It is an extremely flexible concept along with cloud-based content archiving. Server-based and cloud-based playout can also co-exist in a hybrid environment.

Secondly, automated meta-tagging offers the muscle necessary to trace content once it has been archived. This is an area where machine-learning and cognitive services has great potential in recognising and classifying content with less human intervention that was formerly needed.

Robotic camera control is a proven technology which Danmon has deployed in many highly successful projects, both for offsite contribution and virtual reality presentation studios. New technical developments including long-distance IP-based control and video-over-IP links have great potential are creating new opportunities for broadcasters in the ways they operate and in how they can turn content into profit.

The fact that consumers are consuming content much differently than previously challenges existing business/profit models and is forcing broadcast and media companies to rethink the way they operate.

Does Danmon see demand for broadcast solutions widening?
Certainly. Our Business Solutions division is already successfully addressing the corporate, education, medical and government sectors. Thousands of companies need video to support their employees, customers and partners. The market has many players but we come with nearly four decades of experience building high-end systems for use in live environments. We are best at delivering solutions where quality and functionality are paramount.

How does Danmon see its future?
The future for Danmon is very much supporting our customers in the transition into new platform technologies. The IBM relationship takes us a big step in that direction. Another vital element is being able to do software integration on behalf of our customers, bridging the gap between technology islands.

This article is also available in the March edition of Broadcast Film & Video.
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