GUEST COLUMN: Why Software as a Service puts video service providers in control

GUEST COLUMN: Why Software as a Service puts video service providers in control

The SaaS model offers flexibility and agility that come with public cloud, service-based delivery

Paul Segre, CEO, Synamedia

How can we increase market share? Can we meet the demands of consumers who want to watch high-quality video on any screen, anywhere, anytime? What should we do to protect our content, and build new revenue streams?

These are some of the critical questions video service providers are continually asking themselves and us. And the Software as a Service (SaaS) model is proving it has what it takes to address these burning issues by allowing providers to quickly launch, scale and update streaming services and keep focusing on the right questions to stay competitive.

Scaling ambition

SaaS puts customers firmly in the driving seat. Flexible, affordable, and scalable - with the onus on the software provider to host and maintain the service - it means providers can start small and pay as their ambitions scale, whilst reaping the benefits of new product enhancements, features and functionality added as frequently as multiple times a day.

Some early adopters are already turning their backs on inflexible, bespoke technology deployments and instead embracing SaaS solutions. Interestingly, we are finding these are not just those born-in-the cloud streaming services that might first spring to mind but also more traditional pay-TV providers and telcos.

One particular factor driving SaaS demand is the increased appetite for TV advertising. Where once the focus was on subscriber acquisition and market share, broadcasters and other service providers are now demanding the flexibility to create new Avod and Fast services that help counter the cost of content. For example, a leading provider in southeast asia is deploying Synamedia Iris, our SaaS addressable advertising solution, to manage, deliver and measure advertising consistently across its entire subscriber base including set-top boxes with one-way connectivity. Synamedia Iris is a key area of focus at our R&D centre in Bengaluru along with the development of our other SaaS solutions, including Synamedia Go.

Increasing modularity

Until now, service providers have had little alternative to customised, complex deployments involving heavy Software Design Kits and pre-defined, sequential phases of testing with no overlap between phases. It sometimes takes many months for acceptance testing to support the launch of a single feature or a new device. In today’s rapidly evolving business and technology environment, that’s simply unsustainable.

By contrast, the SaaS model offers flexibility, agility and Opex models that come with public cloud, service-based delivery and DevOps. With a modular suite of solutions, providers can start small, only paying for what they need, then easily add more packs or services as their needs evolve.

And SaaS isn’t just for the big players. Its effects are disruptive because the entry barrier to these new levels of experimentation and creativity has been lowered and its modular nature opens up opportunities for smaller and non-conventional businesses.

Our SaaS transformation

At Synamedia, we are living and breathing multi-tenant SaaS internally and witnessing its power first-hand. As one example, in just the first six weeks of 2022 we made 130 discreet feature drops into production in our Synamedia Iris addressable advertising solution. In the previous generation software-based solution, we had releases every six months and our customers typically added two or three months of testing on top of that.

In a rapidly changing world, this velocity and agility is game changing for us and more importantly for our customers. It has impacted every department in our company including the way we sell, support, and contract with customers. Where once our platform deployments were bespoke for each customer, with the SaaS model any customisation now only needs to happen at the edges.

The result is our pace of change of product delivery has increased an order of magnitude over the last year. Importantly, we have also evolved our development approach to one that considers the complete customer experience. We are now more focused and efficient when releasing new features and everything is delivered with built-in market validation.

Keeping pace with change

Our industry is a late adopter of SaaS and one of the main reasons is that it requires changes not just within the vendor community but also within the user community. Put simply, users cannot realize the benefits of SaaS without changing their operating model to accommodate a high velocity and multi-tenanted approach, most notably acceptance testing.

Those that don’t change will be outmanoeuvred by more agile competitors, maybe not in the short run, but inevitably over time. Those that adopt SaaS will give their subscribers a better service and will benefit from a much lower cost of ownership.

Importantly, the product won’t just be better from a user experience and feature functionality perspective: releasing software in small batches that can be easily verified and backed out as necessary dramatically increases quality as well.

And, finally, well-designed cloud-based APIs support a new level of openness that gives users the option of integrating point solutions or procuring suites of solutions from their preferred software suppliers. This openness is something that Synamedia has embraced strongly for its own solutions.

Delivery the SaaS way has shifted Synamedia’s cultural mindset, and our internal teams have had to reorganise to support different priorities and responsibilities. In this golden age of content, where consumers want to change what and how they watch in the blink of an eye, it’s time for video service providers to buckle-up, rev-up the SaaS engine and make sure they’re not lagging behind.

The author is Paul Segre, CEO, Synamedia