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Broadcasters and agencies should automate more of the workflow

As broadcasters move from a wholly linear model to support linear and non-linear delivery to multiple platforms, the pressure is on agencies to provide software platforms to manage media and transactions to the broadcaster. And, while broadcasters have a need for slicker processes, it is just as important for agencies.

In any operation there are many human processes, starting with the creative agency, through sales then to air and invoicing. Many of these can be automated, which cuts down errors and reduces the need for human intervention. In the past, videotape constrained what could be done. Now, however, file-based content flows are much more flexible and naturally lend themselves to automation. From the automation stems the ability to layer on business intelligence.

“There is concern in the industry about turning analog dollars into digital dimes,” Scott Criley, New Products Director, Media Software Systems of Harris said. “The hot topics today are analytics and business intelligence.”

Selling a pop-up for mobile content is different from a 30-second spot at prime time. It requires more efficient processes to realize a profit.
Harris probably has the most comprehensive suite of back-office products, from the Enterprise Agency Suite (EAS) through DAM and program scheduling, to sales and traffic. At the core of any broadcast operation is the back-office software running scheduling and sales.

These products have evolved gradually over decades and now include facilities to handle cable, satellite and non-linear programming. They provide operational reporting, but as broadcasters look to manage multiplatform distribution, management need tools to help with more strategic planning.

“Everyone is under pressure to do more with less,” Criley said, “so anything we can do to enable better monetization and reduce resources to get product out of the door is welcomed by our clients.”

Two such innovations are NetGain and the recently announced partnership with Microsoft for an enterprise agency management platform.

“We want to bring operational efficiencies to our clients,” Criley said. “That’s what we have focused on with our advanced advertising initiatives, helping people to understand their business from a consolidated viewpoint.”

The Harris NetGain business intelligence and analysis system uploads data nightly from the operational systems into a data warehouse. Through the MicroStrategy business intelligence platform, the NetGain metadata is published to a dashboard, interfaced to Microsoft Office for incorporation into presentations and reports and published to a web portal. This latter allows, for example, field sales personnel to access data while on the move.

Harris and Microsoft have signed an agreement that enables Harris to develop an advanced advertising agency platform tfor global marketing organizations. The agency platform, based on Microsoft Dynamics AX, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution, will address the financial management requirements of large agencies and holding companies.

The new agency solutions will support integration to the EAS for media management as well as leading third-party media-buying platforms. The agency platform will offer localized financial compliance to agencies and holding companies with multinational offices, easing global deployment and facilitating business management across multiple geographies. General availability is expected in the third quarter of 2012.