What does broadcast news need with software from the world of manufacturing logistics and supply chain planning?
Just as it helps companies apply the “theory of constraints” to deciding which assembly lines should be dedicated to which products, and which shipments should be scheduled on which trucks, a company called Quintiq believes it can help broadcasters schedule the staff, trucks, cameras, computers, and digital assets needed to put out a newscast or other broadcast.
Quintiq ran demos of its Multi-Resource Scheduler software at IBM's booth at the NAB Show in April, where it was featured as part of IBM's “digital workflow transformation” solution.
Although the company sees opportunities in several parts of the digital supply chain, newsroom operations are one of the areas with the greatest potential, said Joachim Arts, Quintiq's vice president for North America.
“The news business is very dynamic and ad hoc because you cannot really see up front what kind of work is coming your way,” Arts said. The company's planning software can help news operations schedule and optimize resources with a series of short-term plans as events unfold.
Quintiq, which is based in the Netherlands, operates in a broad base of industries, but what they all have in common are limited resources, Arts said. Just as a factory may have specialized machine tools whose use needs to be prioritized, broadcasters have a limited number of cameras and trucks that can't be everywhere.
In a world of digital production and distribution via multiple channels, they also have to schedule time on computer servers that handle various video encoding and format translation tasks.
Constraints also apply to staffing, and the company also has work roster software used by organizations such as Canada's air traffic control system, which it plans to adapt for use by broadcasters.
“We believe the media industry, the broadcasting industry, is on the brink of moving in this direction,” Arts said, though he admits it's early in the development of the market for this type of software. “And, by the way, we like it that way.”
Media companies have been investing heavily in digital asset management systems, and an investment in the logistics of manipulating those assets is the “next logical step,” he said. So far, Quintiq can point to customers for its media planning solution in Europe, such as Belgium's VRT, but none in the U.S. “We have some proof-of-concepts,” Arts said, referring to preliminary technology implementation projects, “and one who we think is close to signing.”