Savva Mueller, Vice President of Product at Masstech, explains how adopting workflow orchestration can improve efficiency within an organization’s daily tasks.
Through more than twenty years in the media and entertainment industry, I have yet to encounter a media organization that didn’t have a laundry list of workflows that they wanted to streamline. In many cases, these needs have been driven by a desire to reduce costs. However, just as often it was triggered by frustration with tasks that seem cumbersome, unnecessary and inefficient. There is a perfectly reasonable expectation that in today’s file-based media environment, processes should be both faster and more elegant than they often are. At its best, this is the challenge that workflow orchestration addresses.
Before we take a look at some examples of how workflow orchestration can make processes more efficient, it’s important to address the difference between automation and orchestration. Automation typically refers to removing the need for human intervention in a single task. On the other hand, orchestration involves coordinating multiple tasks and systems to create complete workflows. Automation and orchestration can, and should, live harmoniously in the media ecosystem. For example, automation is ideally suited to handling the transcoding or rewrapping of files between different formats and systems, while orchestration not only arranges this task, but also takes the output files, matches them to playlists or schedules coming from other systems, and then segments, renames and distributes them in different ways based on that information.
At Masstech, our workflows were developed based on our customers’ need to solve three main problems with their processes:
- Users and systems were bogged down by repetitive, manual tasks, which prevented them from concentrating on higher-value creative activities.
- Content and metadata were not moving smoothly between different systems, either due to the lack of integration between the systems or to incompatible formats. This not only created a need for more manual processes, but also made content much more difficult to find and reuse.
- Errors in the manual entry of names, IDs and other metadata caused problems in downstream processes.
Masstech’s award-winning news archive workflow is a good example of how orchestrating a workflow can address all of these issues. In this workflow, the system automatically extracts the scripts from a newsroom computer system (NRCS) running order and then uses the video references in the scripts to find the matching video sequences in the video server or production storage. The sequences are archived, and the scripts become their metadata. Links to the archived video assets are also written back to the NRCS script archives, so that journalists have the option to search and browse the archives using their NRCS application.
By orchestrating this workflow, we’ve removed not only the need for users to manually locate and move files to the archive, which could take hours over the course of a full day of newscasts, but also the potential for user error. Just as importantly, the assets now have excellent metadata and are easily accessible to all of the journalists and news staff, making them much more likely to be used.
This is just one example that illustrates how software-defined workflow orchestration can be applied to the problems of the media enterprise. By tying together systems and processes that are currently siloed, we have found that it’s possible to achieve efficiencies not only in the time spent on these types of repetitive tasks, but also by making it easier to find content and extract value from it. With full access to their content library and with less time spent on banal activities, users can focus on creative tasks that provide the most value to the organization.
To find out more about implementing workflow orchestration within your organization, get in touch