And so it happens: Technology, Telecommunications, and Broadcast Converge

I confess! I was a nay-sayer. I remember the strategic shift that Canadian Women in Communications took to embrace and include IT in its mandate. I brazenly diminished the strategy. Karma is both a teacher and a bitch.

I’ve been blessed to have a career that has traversed telecom, equipment manufacturers, and software (more specifically SaaS). I’ve had the opportunity to play roles in marketing, engineering, and sales. My most recent journey has led me to Synacor, a digital media company that offers a curated news-first portal, enterprise and operator grade e-mail platform, a multi-screen video and content platform, and Identity and Entitlement management for operators. In other words, Information Technology for marcom, media and broadcast people.

Let me be a little gracious with myself. I, like many of you, straddled these diverse worlds. As little as 5 years ago IT spoke different acronyms and understood customers differently than the marcom, broadcast and media people. For those of us tossed about the industry for the last 20 years, we recall a time when walls and domains were very distinct. There was a time when worlds did not intersect gracefully.

Let’s talk about that for a moment. As little as 8 years ago “Cloud” was slideware. IT build physical infrastructures on dedicated servers that hosted all applications on software interfacing with custom code. Development took months and releases were managed by cycles… long cycles… that influencing required both capital and pixy dust. Oh, how things have changed.

What about Media companies? They toiled selling traditional and non-traditional ad campaigns across product and service sectors. Granted, they too adapted with the times and morphed to be more real-time centric, but the entire ecosystem lagged based on metrics. Real-time analytics seemed strangely elusive. But that was a not-so long time ago now.

What about Marcom? Wow, what has Twitter done? Who could have ever anticipated the impact that a social platform could do to editorial content? Everyone is a curator and creator of content. Everyone has an opinion, and everyone can be heard. People have become raw – real – and real-time. When I started my career, Marcom was on the never-ending pursuit of the ideal messaging. Now it’s about authenticity and real matters more than perfection.

What about Broadcast? What once was a sacred domain reserved for the precious BDU has now bled into uncontrolled forces. Not only has this niche been exposed to competitive pressures on a global scale, but they have been exposed to radical changes in distribution, consumption and adoption. Borders are becoming very blurry as IP becomes the great distributor.

My point is this, none of us can expect to exist in independent domains. There is no excuse for any of us to claim that, “that is not my area…”  We are all responsible to know and understand the platform, purpose, and objective of our practice– and those disciplines connected to us. Ignorance is simply is not an option anymore.

In my defense who could have foreseen just how converged things would become?  I always considered myself to be somewhat of a forward thinker but this was inconceivable. We can no longer be subject matter experts without having a principled understanding on the technology, ecosystem, and a view to the interconnectedness of how we communicate. Where once I dismissed the vision I now wholeheartedly embrace the need and requirement for communications and technology to intersect.

So how can you get engaged in this evolving ecosystem? I struggled with that very challenge a couple of months ago when I joined Synacor. Surprisingly there are fewer NFP organizations that seemed relevant than there was 15 years ago. Fortunately for me CWC did morph into WCT (Women in Communications and Technology) and I have had the pleasure of re-engaging. I continue to look for the right types of active associations to engage with. My goal, to share and learn from others who are being continually shaped by the changing nature of media, broadcasting, and technology.

Written by Donna Whitney, past WCT-GTA Chair, and currently Account Director, Canadian Service Provider Sales at Synacor. You can follow Donna on Twitter @DonnaWhitney



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