The spread of mobile devices, rise of social networking and advances in cloud computing have contributed to a seismic shift in how consumers now expect to enjoy content in the media and entertainment industry. This is epitomised by the rapid dominance of the likes of Netflix, Amazon and YouTube.
In turn, this presents a challenge for companies in media and entertainment to embrace digital technologies in all areas of their business. On the plus side, the developments in technology present a unique opportunity to better understand their customers and how they interact with their business, while also enabling them to simplify the delivery of services and content to an ever-expanding variety of devices.
Application programming interfaces (APIs) have become fundamental in helping businesses move at the new pace and scale that digital requires, and the ability to continuously adapt to change.
Here are four ways APIs can help media and entertainment companies stay ahead of the curve.
1. Play a starring role in the ecosystem
Consumer expectations are changing and speedy, smooth content delivery from a server to a device is no longer considered ‘cutting edge’ – it’s an expectation. However, behind the scenes, a complex supply chain of actors can play roles in bringing this content to screens.
The interaction among these supply chain partners has to be lightning fast – implementing an API management layer enables them to do this seamlessly. The advantage of this new layer in your IT infrastructure is that it enables new, fast moving apps and partner integrations to sit alongside stable, secure enterprise systems.
In turn, this allows developers and partners to plan and produce new device platforms in a fraction of the time and at much less expense than more traditional approaches.
2. Deliver the right experience, on the right device, at the right time
Media companies that have built their businesses on content are likely to have also built their technology stacks on a range of different systems. In trying to develop a seamless consumer experience, this is the sort of thing that can present interoperability issues.
However, an API layer can help facilitate the seamless exposure of content, deliverable to any device, from a range of different back-end systems. As such, the APIs also present developers with an opportunity to consume the content available and create apps for any device without having to deal with different languages and protocols.
BBC Worldwide is a prime example of how a traditional broadcaster is using APIs to simplify content and platform management. BBC Worldwide operates a complex, multi-tier IT architecture, using a variety of suppliers to provide a variety of platforms.
The top UK broadcaster faced a challenge when it decided to pull together all these suppliers into a new, direct-to-consumer retail platform – dubbed BBC Store – that would enable consumers to buy and keep their favourite BBC shows.
The delivery of this reliable, global, end-to-end e-commerce platform required the creation of a set of consistent, scalable APIs. We worked with the BBC to integrate internal systems and transform the company’s data to create the desired APIs.
3. Stay agile, adapt, and win
Before they arrived, it would have been hard to predict the effect that the likes of Netflix, Amazon and YouTube have had on the media. Many established market players, like brick-and-mortar bookstores and video rental companies, have been toppled by these agile competitors – and the threat remains.
Becoming a digital business is an imperative business decision that’s key to competing and staying relevant – just making good content won’t be enough anymore. Now, it’s more important than ever to have the ability to deliver the experiences that customers want while maintaining reliability, security and stability of corporate IT systems.
APIs enable what is known as ‘two-speed IT’ – allowing companies to maintain the stability of their operational systems of record while fostering the agility and speed necessary to create powerful new apps, services and experiences.
4. Understand customer’s context with data
Previously, the media might forecast what kind of content consumers might want to read, watch or listen to. However these days are quickly disappearing and consumer-guided entertainment and content is rapidly becoming the norm.
And whilst it’s important to design and address the customer experience quickly, it’s also important to do so accurately, in a way that meets user needs and expectations. As Forrester recently claimed, With thousands of ways to distribute content, experience it and find it, there has been no better opportunity for broadcasters to get intimate with their core audiences.”
Every digital interaction generates data and APIs can capture this and analyse in near real-time speed, providing valuable insights about which products and services customers are using – and even detail the path customers take to interacting with content.
For the BBC, every interaction with the BBC Store sits behind an API platform, which will help enable it to provide recommendations to individuals and some customisation of the user journey based on what they like and what they’ve done.
The media and entertainment industry should follow suit and understand the importance of APIs in keeping up with the expectations of their customers in an always-connected digital world, in order to stay relevant in the face of a constantly changing competitive landscape.
Sourced from Denis Dorval, VP EMEA, Apigee