The media industry helps people connect to entertainment using dataMany industries were challenged within the last year and had to change the way they work. For the media industry, what this represents is a pivotal moment in time to not just recover, but to reimagine. It became an opportunity to take advantage of new cloud technologies that improve productivity, produce higher quality content, streamline operations, and invent new business models.

AI is a key differentiator for all parts of the media value chain. It helps content creators be more creative and editors be more productive. AI helps consumers find the content that matches their interests to have more personalised experiences.

I recently spoke to business leaders within the media industry around how they are using AI and how they expect it to change their value chain. What came out of these conversations were some very clear opportunities organisations can take to improve their outcomes.

1.      Keeping humans at the heart of your plans to innovate with AI

What was clear in all my conversations is that organisations should not look to AI and machine learning as something that needs to be implemented just for the sake of it.

“Machine learning works best where we’re working with business stakeholders who are focussing on the ‘why’ and the ‘what’. Focussing too much of the ‘how’ can lead to rabbit holes.”

Managing Director of a digital services company

AI is there to assist your people in the work that they do and help them innovate. Whether that’s taking over manual processes so they can spend more time on value adding tasks, or just collecting data to help deliver better insights that drive actions.

Focus on the business solution that needs to be solved over implementing technology for the sake of it. As a result, you will ensure that you will get ROI in terms of costs, productivity, and a positive employee response.

2.      Build an AI-ready culture

A woman on a Teams callPart of the positive employee response I just mentioned is ensuring you have a culture that supports the implementation of AI. This is not about employing more data scientists or analysts. It’s about democratising AI knowledge throughout your whole organisation. Firstly, this means ensuring your employees have the skills to understand and use AI effectively. Secondly, it’s also about listening to their feedback and ideas on how to use AI for innovation.

“Having those skills in house allows us to be much more aware of the opportunities with data,” says a Technology Transformation Lead at a large media organisation.

Take advantage of on-demand training, such as the AI Business School or Microsoft Learn. You can also empower employees to build low/no code solutions that will streamline operations through Power Platform.

3.      Drive trust and security in the media industry

The media industry has an important relationship with their audience. You need to ensure you meet strict government compliance and regulations. Additionally, you need robust secure systems that protect your customer’s personal data. And with AI, this data needs to be used ethically and responsibly.

“We have to be wary of the data implications of that and the ethical use of these technologies. We have to keep sense checking along the way to make sure it is the right thing to do.” 

At Microsoft, we take a people-centered approach to the research, development and implementation of AI. We also encourage organisations to cultivate a responsible AI-ready culture in their business.

AI built on Azure takes advantage of multi layered security. This includes an investment of over $1 billion in research and development. We have more than 3,000 security experts monitoring to safeguard your data and the most comprehensive compliance coverage of any cloud service provider. Part of our core privacy principle is that you own your data – and we will never use it for marketing or advertising.

4.      How to streamline operations and empower employees

Media industry worker using data in Power BI to get insights.For many organisations, the immediate impact of AI is in streamlining operations. For example, the Azure Video Indexer uses AI to automatically extract metadata, such as spoken words, written text, people and scenes from video and audio files. This makes it easier to search and find content easier. Also, you can easily add closed captioning in multiple languages, build recommendation algorithms, and automatically create clips from sections. As a result, you reduce a lot of time-consuming work for employees, so they can focus on value added tasks.

AI can help organisations collaborate easier or be more productive. For example, knowledge mining can enrich internal information to help your employees identify and explore relevant content at scale. Therefore, they can quickly gain oversight over projects, or discover new insights with data.

5.      How to innovate media industry production

For media production, AI can automatically detect when companies need to scale out computer processing power. It can help identify points in content that can be or repurposed in other ways and automatically add advertisements. In addition, it can also help producers create better content using audience insights.

A Software Engineer I spoke to used AI to analyse videos, images, and text to understand how to better film a very popular reality TV show. “They had a 1.5 percent increase in rating over the season, which is amount to $75 million,” they said.

6.      How to build personalised customer experiences with AI

An employee answers the phone in a callcentreSometimes it’s not just about the content. Additionally, it’s also about the relationship. AI is extremely useful to create personalised algorithms to improve recommendations for consumers. Most importantly, it can also improve the relationship they have with your organisation.

AI can help tailor each person’s experience. This can be by interpreting data to give your employees insights to reduce churn, predict any or even just simply give them an overview of the customer’s history.

For example, a new partnership between Microsoft and NBA Digital uses machine learning and AI to personalise game broadcasts and other content to their viewers. AI will tailor the content to their preferences, reward participation and provide more insights to deliver new innovations.

7.      Accelerate business growth in the media industry with AI

“We’re finding customers over the last 12 months are much better informed about the capabilities of machine learning and coming up with very creative ways of using it,” says a Managing Director of a digital services company.

At the core of it, AI is helping media organisations innovate and differentiate. It’s helping them optimise their business processes, costs, and improve their relationships with customers. They can uncover deep insights or new ways in which they can innovate. It’s empowering their employees to do more.

And in the future, the possibilities of AI continue to grow. We’ll see AI being used for more personalised audience participation and create new ways of building engaging content. Finally, it will help us even explore completely new spaces such as augmented reality.

“It’s very exciting. I hope there’s no limits, frankly,” says a Technology Transformation Lead at a large media organisation. “I’m seeing things that I thought were 10 years away, I honestly think they will accelerate due to the willingness to adopt AI and the way we’re working now.”

Find out more

Empower your future with AI

Innovate with a modern data strategy

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About the author

Stuart Almond wearing glasses and smiling at the camera

Passionate about the transformation technology can bring, Stuart is an Industry Lead for Media and Telecommunications within Microsoft, where he relishes any opportunity to offer his entrepreneurial spirit and natural storytelling ability to challenge organisations to ‘refocus the lens’ in order to create a successful impact through the adoption of innovation.

He is a lead spokesperson for innovation within the media industry and has played both sides of the fence. Stuart started his career as a BBC Journalist before moving into a number of roles in media production. From here, the pull of technology innovation took him into development and R&D, then corporate strategic management and change consultancy for some of the biggest media brands around the globe.

Over the last 20+ years, Stuart has helped deliver major business transformation having held significant change roles at companies ranging from the BBC, Endemol Shine Group, to Sony.