The media and entertainment industry in India is today at the crossroads. The
increasing demand to deliver content in all possible forms in every sort of
imaginable device on a 24x7 basis, calls for putting in place a robust
communication infrastructure. Ishwar Jha, VP, business technology of Zee
Telefilms, one of the largest media conglomerates in the country, talks spoke to
VOICE&DATA about the technologies deployed in Zee as well as how regulations
and vendor influx are affecting the CIO's choice of a new technology.
CIOs are always under pressure from their bosses to get the best from the
partners and also reduce IT and telecom costs. So how do you keep a balance
between the two?
Being in the media and entertainment industry, buying technology is
just one side of the mirror. Before a decision is taken to invest
in any technology initiative, lot of research goes into the technology and the
business requirement, and evaluation of all the benefits the
technology will bring to the table. This helps us get better
decisions on TCO and RoI much in advance.
Based on the above core principle, we start
evaluating technology solution partners who can predict and sync the future
roadmap, product feature enhancements, and the additional benefits that
the technology product or solution will bring on table in future. Since we
are able to identify and articulate our needs in the most cost effective way,
there is a better realization of the benefits the technology will provide. Both
tangible and intangible benefits are more or less measurable by the top
How imperative is the communication/network infrastructure to your
business? How easy or difficult is it to manage them? What are some of the key
issues you witness in your communication & network infrastructure?
Communication/network plays very vital role in our industry and is a very
core component for business. Our business is highly dependent on the network.
Our operations will get stalled if we do not have a proper network and
communication facility. To explain, we have a studio in Mumbai from where live
recording takes place and the content is directly transmitted to the broadcast
center. This needs a robust, reliable and always on communication
Managing communication infrastructure of this scale requires 24X7 monitoring,
redundancy and high availability. We give necessary care to each and every
aspect of deployment to minimize the risk and get optimum availability.
What is the technology roadmap that you have for your company?
With the ongoing trends in the entertainment industry, there is a demand to
provide content anywhere, anytime on any device. Currently, we are chalking out
the strategy to be leaders for the next wave in entertainment technology. We
want to provide our viewers preference based entertainment content anytime
anywhere on viewer's preferred device. This entails a lot of research and
pilots especially in the area of communication, content and customization as per
user choice and needs. This is the next wave and the market is going to be
inundated with such innovative applications and technologies.
What are the problems you face as a CIO and how do you address these
Generally, vendors introduce technology and lack industry specific domain
knowledge. Today, every industry vertical has its specific requirements and need
customized solutions to fit in their industry type. Though there are a few
vendors who cater to industry specific requirements but by and large there is
lack of industry specific knowledge.
Most of the time, vendors upgrade and come out with new versions just to keep
their balance sheet look more profitable and keep their investors happy. If they
are constantly inundating the market with new products and phasing out the old
systems and support, the users have to incur not only fresh costs for updated
products but also face the problem of low RoI on the earlier investments.
Most of the vendors do not have well laid support call escalation process. In
fact, now days whenever you log a support call, you receive an e-mail after 2-3
days stating 'Call status closed due to you not providing sufficient
information or not available when our representative tried to reach you.'
Whereas the real situation is that the vendor representative do not even follow
Another problem experienced by most CIOs is that the management understands
only the business language and thinks about profit more than just technology.
There is a constant challenge at hand to communicate in the language of business
and explain how the specific technology will enhance the bottom line and provide
more profit in the long run. To talk in millions and billions is a daunting task
then communicating in bits and bytes.
What are the key trends in enterprise communication? What top 5
technologies are going to make a mark in future?
Wi-Fi, though still not completely present in India, is one technology that is
here to stay. Wireless broadband over DTH platform is also an important
technology. Extended enterprise with Web services and mobility enabled
applications and infrastructure will also be important. Storage will be cheaper
and will mine more data.
IP is gaining ground. What is the promise that IP has for your company and
do you plan to deploy IP based technologies like IP Phones, MPLS based VPN etc.?
Yes. IP is certainly the single most evolution that has come and
made its ground firm. Most of telecom and networking infrastructure will be on
this platform. Today high number of networks have either migrated or are
migrating to IP networks.
Are there still regulatory issues that hamper deployment of new
communication technologies in India?
Though the Indian government has been very active in recent times there is
still a lot more to be done by the government in technology and
Government must think and be serious to make people wirefree. They have seen
recently how mobility (without wire) has spread and reached to every nook and
corner of the country. They must work around the broadband policy and promote
the DTH based communication feature under broadband.
Information technology policy needs a definite re-writing as lots of dynamics
that has taken place in past, clearly has significant influence on how future of
technology is going to be impacted by these developments.