Cabsat Wrap Up

Cabsat Wrap Up

Both a sandstorm and rain ended up clouding the view at CABSAT2017? Both are relatively rare events in normally sunny Dubai – but we had both! And even without the weather, it wasn’t always easy to see what was clearly going on.

As this particular event in the annual media and broadcast calendar recedes over the horizon and the dust (or should that be sand?) has settled, we can now consider what stood out at CABSAT.

While most of the major vendors in the media space appear to put a half hearted effort into CABSAT there was a distinct expansion of the overall exhibition with more vendors. One wonders in these days of commoditised hardware and software whether smaller, less glossy and more focussed stands will be a trend at some of the larger exhibitions as marketing budgets get shaved. Growth is a clear annual trend at Cabsat but the focus needs to be on a compelling conference, with a relevant and serious agenda rather than the suggestion of the same old thinking.

This region has historically faced its own particular challenges. While not unique, piracy has taken centre stage in recent years and rightly so – although this was less true this year. Not because it has mysteriously gone away. It hasn’t. But there has been some success in tackling piracy because the industry has got its act together and is working much more as a coordinated entity. Normally competing content producers, owners and vendors have come together to fight this issue head on as a collective.

This year there was far more talk about cloud based services and consumer trends toward digital platforms which was refreshing. Early entrants such as icflix now have serious competition but the absence of Netflix and Amazon Prime from this market gives a good indication of its special challenges, not least the lack of local content and the relative slow rise in consumer demand. However it will still be a race to the finish line and there are quite a few still warming up and wondering how to catch up with the early adopters. It is also very apparent that traditional operational and content silos are still very much alive and kicking.

In my view the region is on the brink of a major transformation in several areas. The most obvious one is consumer behaviour. It should be no surprise that this region will follow the rest of the world and even probably overtake it in terms of mobile content consumption. There are signs that the old monopoly culture is breaking down and beginning to follow other regions of the world where broadcasters and content producers are starting to think about their future strategy for operations and technology. There are signs that the traditional do-it-all-in-house model is cracking with a stronger eye on reducing costs, improving efficiency and making more local content.

The reason I say this is that at this year’s CABSAT there was much more use of the irritating marketing-contrived word; “cloud”. What this really means is outsourcing, either services, infrastructure, applications or platforms.

What was missing? Well there was a distinct absence of anything relating to IoT. And I’m still wondering why it is called CABSAT! Perhaps that will never change – come rain or shine?

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Last modified on 12 May 2017
Andrew Ioannou

Expert in broadcast technology strategy innovation and systems implementation.