George Kilpatrick

It’s been exactly one year since Masstech launched Kumulate. And it’s been … well, let’s just say “what a year it has been”, writes Masstech CEO George Kilpatrick

Today Masstech is starting our v-IBC 2020 week of demos and webcasts. It seems like an entirely different world when we look back a year to IBC 2019. My memories are of a very painful charity 4K run around the Amstelpark, (the race being almost won by a goat, closely followed by Robin van Persie) and then mixing in the coffee houses, restaurants and streets of Amsterdam …oh and we launched Kumulate, Masstech’s latest storage management solution. The launch of a new product is always exciting and we followed up Amsterdam’s success with visits to many of our customers in North America, Mexico, Europe and UAE. That was 2019. 

After a similar start in 2020, life changed very quickly. How could we have predicted the events of the year since then? 

Like everyone else, Masstech closed our offices in Canada, the UK and Romania. Our global team are well-used to working remotely, so on hearing about massive increases in those remote working, wondered what all the fuss was about! 

But of course travel stopped, trade shows stopped (and went virtual), and normal ways of building relationships and opening business discussions had to change. We saw a massive increase in webinars, online training, remote health checks and very focused digital marketing. 

Despite having to manage these changes, our launch has been better than even we predicted. Nearly 50 existing Masstech customers have migrated to Kumulate, and new customers are coming on board.  Over the last year we have completely redesigned our Kumulate UI, deployed new features such as Federated Search, Kumulate Orchestrator, in-depth analytics, and at the same time we moved our underlying architecture to a more economical PostGres SQL database. 

And of course this week we have just announced our new modules: Kumulate Gallery, providing enhanced web-based storefront capabilities; and Kumulate Gateway for automated content acquisition.

So, in these most unreal 12 months,  what have we learned? 

Clearly the media industry is in distress with advertising revenues impacted and production budgets slashed.  The need to preserve cash is hitting all suppliers. Although very recently we’ve seen an improvement, there has been a slowing of the sales cycle of new video management solutions. 

However, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of existing content  inventory. The critical role of archive material, in the absence of live content, has seen a large number of expansions of existing deployments.

The media industry is not alone in seeing that the world is not going back to the old ways after COVID declines. Remote working, cloud workflows, and subscription will be standard; UIs need to be intuitive and engaging; automation and efficiency is everything in content management as customers reduce budgets. Product roadmaps need to reflect this – look at Kumulate Gallery and Gateway.

Looking after your people is the Number One priority – whether you’ve been personally affected or not by the disease, its impact on all societies is fundamental. We are all becoming used to the ‘new normal’ and we all deal with it in different ways. Highest on my list is how to keep a healthy, innovative, supportive work environment which continues to engage all our team in the Kumulate project. We need to provide solidity during uncertainty. 

Listen to your customers – they have immediate needs that they did not necessarily expect. As an example, we urgently provided a download function to a news customer who needed to enable home-based journalists to download content from their central facility to their home office. Before the pandemic, this functionality would have been strictly off limits. Customer focus is – more than ever – key to success.

Help your partners, SIs and dealers through the crisis. During COVID we have invested in Kumulate training programs, and in strengthening those relationships to counter our own team’s lack of ability to travel. We have always depended on the invaluable local knowledge and experience of our dealers – and now this is more crucial than ever before.

It is hard to believe the changes that have happened in the short 12 months since IBC in September 2019. In  many ways it still feels an unreal situation. But as I have written before,  the human ability to change and react in adversity will, in my view, ensure ultimate success at overcoming COVID. 

And if you still have worries, there are these wise words, from Charles Schulz, Illustrator of Peanuts:“Don’t worry about the world coming to an end today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.” 

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