AWS Media Blog

FANtastic. Engaging. AWSome.

AWS Media & Entertainment Symposium 2019, Kings Place, London, 27th June

At twice the scale of previous years, and with a superb new venue and hands-on AWS technology tracks, the 2019 edition of the AWS UK Media & Entertainment Symposium brought together a wide array of industry tech pioneers. Attendees and presenters explored the thinking, tactics, and strategies behind their respective cloud transformations and shared learnings, visions, and philosophies for the future. The result was rewarding and Illuminating while revealing shared common threads.

Featuring a stellar line-up of industry leaders ready to share their cloud experiences and learnings, the event’s characteristic mood of disruption, empowerment, and enablement was evident from the very beginning.

Even as the 250 or so delegates arrived for early coffee, croissants, and conversation, the tone was positive, upbeat, open, and receptive. And, from the first of the day’s truly engaging keynotes, so it would remain.

The first presentation from Chelsea Football Club’s director of marketing, Gary Twelvetree, introduced a theme that would echo throughout: the need for awareness, clarity, and pragmatism.

Setting out Chelsea’s vision – quite simply to win both on and off the pitch – and speaking to the club’s success in engaging with its fan base across the world, Twelvetree posed an interesting question: What does engagement truly mean?

“There were some big audience engagement numbers being bandied about when I first arrived. Plenty of fan engagement with the Chelsea brand. But so what? I thought. What does that really mean? How was it all being translated into revenue dollars?”

The club wasn’t really treating its teams and products as consumer offerings, he explained, and that had to change. It needed to gain a better understanding of the connection between its consumers, their engagements, and the value being created between the two.

“We wanted to become a brand – not just in football, but ‘from’ and beyond football. A fully-fledged entertainment brand.” That meant, he said, putting data at the heart of it all, and this is what Chelsea has set about doing since.

Clear echoes of this philosophy were heard in the event’s sports track – the first held at an EMEA AWS M&E Symposium – from Formula 1’s Frank Arthofer and Liverpool FC’s Andy Fletcher; leveraging the many capabilities of AWS to innovate the fan experience and create new value.

Matching Twelvetree’s enthusiasm, both spoke passionately of the importance of engaging their global audiences in innovative, measurable new ways; of “telling untold stories”, and of the importance of technology and data in underpinning it all to deliver the vital insights that make closer engagement possible.

The day’s pragmatism was further reflected, and added to, in other keynotes, particularly that of UKTV CTOO Sinead Greenaway, and in the fascinating panel discussions that followed.

While Greenaway was, she said, hugely excited about some of the emerging audience opportunities in tech, the cloud, and IP, it is vital not to get too caught up in the hype; to “keep our heads”.

Likening the ideal position to a Goldilocks scenario – not too hot, not too cold, but just right – it’s vital, noted Greenaway, not to deploy tech for the sake of deploying tech; not to go non-linear (via OTT technologies) simply for the sake of going non-linear.

Fundamentally, said Clive Santamaria, Chief Architect with ITV, it’s about giving audiences what they want. And for that to happen in perpetuity, he suggested, transformation cannot be a one-off process. It must instead be a continual one.

A related thread ran through the afternoon’s panel sessions.

The first session focused on supply chain transformation, where it was noted that while the entire way in which media and entertainment supply chains are viewed, perceived, and addressed is changing, it is not enough to simply shift the supply chain and its tools into the cloud. It has to be much more intuitive and measured than that.

The second session, which explored OTT and its monetization, saw the debate turn to how rights holders are beginning to rethink and repackage how their audiences consume their content. Here too, while it was acknowledged that rights owners want to get closer to their audiences and engage with them in a different way (and that all manner of exciting new ways to do so are now emerging), caution is still required.

“They [rights holders] have to be very careful about how they go about it. Better not to do it, than to do it badly”, as one commentator put it.

It was evident from the increased attendance, broader profile of companies, and common threads of interest that reaching, delighting, and understanding the end viewer is as important as it has ever been. But the capabilities to do that, to innovate, test, and iterate are here. It was an honor to have so many leading organizations share their experiences of business transformation built on AWS.

Suffice to say the future looks FANtastic, engaging, and AWSome. In every sense.

For details of the original event agenda please see here. For more information on AWS cloud services, reference solutions and AWS partners all focused-on Media & Entertainment – please see here. Additional blogs from the UK event will be published, diving deeper into the sessions.