Last week, Team ZOO travelled to a characteristically drizzly London for MESA Europe’s Content Workflow Management Forum – let’s call it CoWoMaFo for short. Bunkered down at the Victory Services Club, we met and mingled with some of our much-loved clients and fellow service providers to talk all things localization and digital distribution.
MESA Europe’s annual event focuses on new ways to improve content workflows, with our hospitable hosts looking to pull together the industry’s content creators and LSP innovators to help keep everyone ahead of the curve.
ZOO's Maz and Jules envisioning the 'Localization Utopia' during the afternoon keynote
From industry challenges to plans for the future, here’s a quick review of what we picked up with MESA Europe.
What are the Biggest Challenges We Need to Tackle?
There aren’t many opportunities to get this many top content owners and vendors in the same room, talking through what gives them the biggest headaches – an invaluable mix of wisdom and shared frustrations.
As our team departed from ZOO corner – tactically placed next to the bar – and over the course of the day’s presentations, we heard the same challenges rearing their ugly heads. While there were no huge surprises here, it’s encouraging to know service providers are all on the same page – trying to solve the biggest struggles content owners are facing.
Sharyn Hopkins, Senior VP Product Solutions for Deluxe, has recently taken the role of Co-Chair of MESA’s Content Localisation Council. During her introduction to the afternoon's panel discussion, she covered all the industry nuances we've come to know so well – from ever-shrinking release windows and booming content growth to audience expectations and the requirement to keep up with today’s technology.
'Responding to the Needs of a Dynamic Market' – featuring ZOO, BTI, Deluxe, SDI and Nordisk
Looking at things from a more technical standpoint, self-professed ‘New Kid on the Block’ Maria D’Alessandro of BTI Studios called out the huge variety of file formats and platform requirements that are constantly changing – and LSPs’ necessity to keep up.
On the flip side, Amanda Smith, Director of Language Strategy & Content Business Ops of Discovery Communications Europe shared that challenges are similar from the content owners’ perspective.
“We’re on a different side of the same coin. We need to tackle speed to market, live events and the faster turnarounds – and new OTT launches with huge volumes.”
Alberto De La Puento Nieto, Worldwide Localisation Director for NBC Universal, stressed how much information needs to move around, and the difficulty involved in managing this. While Iris Grethmann, Senior Manager Localisation, Warner Brothers, shared her concerns on talent capacity shortages when localizing vast amount of content to new audiences worldwide.
In terms of challenges, it looks like almost every vendor and content owner at CoWoMaFo – let’s call it CWMF for short – are on the same page. Everyone is looking for a better way of working.
Speaking of which…
The Cloud Takes Center Stage
The Cloud. If you’ve followed us over the last 10 years, you’ve probably heard us talk about it… you may well be sick of us talking about it. But at the CWMF, it certainly became the thing to talk about.
During the afternoon panel ‘Responding to the Needs of a Dynamic Market’, our very own Mazin Al-Jumaili shared a struggle that we’ve battled with for over a decade, ‘people are still intimidated by the term 'cloud'’.
But gratefully – and promisingly – it feels like tides are turning and more and more content owners and vendors are feeling ready to embrace cloud technology. Deluxe’s Senior Director Product Solutions, Navtej Khangura talked about the reliable architecture and infinite capacity to scale brought about by cloud technology – and we couldn’t agree more, Nav!
During his morning session, Navtej also shared that this transition has been led by a need to ‘adapt to the way the industry is moving’ and this cloud-powered approach is helping us all work with smoother and more flexible models – but what does this mean for content owners?
How Can This Help Streamline Workflows?
As Head of Business Development & Sales for Nordisk Undertext, Pelle Naucler, puts it, we’re all developing platforms and really smart things, but ‘our clients just want global services and don’t care how they get it’.
True. But for Nordisk, ZOO and all the other pioneering localization vendors, behind the scenes, it’s all about fine-tuning and streamlining workflows to make things slicker and smoother for our clients. How can we get from original to target language as fast as possible? How can we distribute content to OTT platforms around the world, while maintaining the highest level of security and managing all the assets throughout?
It’s true that content owners want to get from A to B, with the least amount of friction, highest levels of security and as fast a turnaround as possible – but it’s the execution of this cloud-powered concept that makes this possible.
In London, we heard it time and time again. The recurring theme of building an ideal ecosystem of end-to-end services – but as Nicky McBride, VP Business Development of SDI Media puts it, ‘some of us are closer to others at being an end-to-end solution’.
In ZOO’s case, we looked at what this end-to-end concept would look like in practice; built from the ground up for cloud-powered localization services – designed to interact flexibly and freely with other vendors – 'The Localization Utopia’.
Exclusive look at some of the latest hard-hitting content pitched at Berlin Film Festival
During the afternoon keynote session, the inimitable duo of ‘Maz and Jules’, (also known as 'Good Cop, Good Cop’) envisioned how this utopia could come together and how it would benefit content owners around the world.
Director of Business Development, UK & Europe, Julian Day, pensively posed the question:
“Is it possible to aspire to a perfect utopian space where we in this room were able to put aside our centuries-old differences and come together for the greater good?”
Fellow Biz Dev Director, Mazin Al-Jumaili took a deep breath and replied: “You mean a transparent service able to manage the distribution of digital entertainment content, focused around the users and key stakeholders involved in the delivery process and designed to address some of the biggest challenges involved in global distribution including decreasing windows and the pressure to do more for less?” *exhales*
Well, yes. As the dynamic duo, AKA Speccy and the Canny Lad, went on to reveal. This ‘utopia’ is [gasp] a reality – this streamlined, collaborative, utopian service solution exists today – and you should definitely ask us about it.
The Future of Content Localization?
What better place to round off our recap than some palpable predictions and ambitious aspirations? What does the future of content localization and digital distribution look like?
Well, judging by the Content Workflow Management Forum, startlingly harmonious. Almost every vendor told us that ‘collaboration is key’ – a vital step in delivering the best possible end results for content owners.
Team ZOO covered the capacity to work with other vendors through our image of localization utopia, while Maria D’Alessandro shared that BTI Studios aren’t averse to partnering with vendors and ‘uniting our efforts’. Nordisk’s Pelle Naucler emphasized that ‘we’re all working on the same things, so maybe we should talk more’.
It looks like we all agree that going forward, the industry as a whole needs to be more cooperative and compatible.
The demands brought about by the industry – shrinking release windows, rising quality expectations and more and more new platforms and technical specs – this all adds up to a need for localization service providers to work more cohesively with workflows that are designed with collaboration in mind.
For the future of content localization, we need to learn from each other and embrace partnerships and transparency from start to finish. With the boom in global content and new audiences worldwide, there’s a place for all of us.