Home Opinions The value of a science and engineering approach in product development

The value of a science and engineering approach in product development

Kai Borchers 3SS from Cynthia
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Today’s multiscreen entertainment platforms are more intelligent and multifaceted than ever before. This is because in today’s fragmented and competitive media environment, services need to be bigger, do more, deliver great content to more places, and on more devices – and they need their product offerings to evolve fast and seamlessly.

When economic times are tough and competition is fierce, operators need to be really savvy when it comes to committing to the technological processes that underpin their businesses. In particular, they are acutely aware of the need to invest in agile technologies and to work with partners which enable maximum flexibility and cost efficiency when launching new services to excite viewers.

Maintaining the relationship with the paying subscriber and incentivising them to stay loyal is paramount.

As broadcasting and networking technologies move forward technically, rigorous – indeed good old-fashioned – scientific and engineering processes really pay dividends.

When it comes to considering which services to launch and how they should be configured to maximise popularity and audience engagement, comprehensive A/B comparative testing and advanced analytics must be inherent to the process.

With highly automated and rigorous testing processes that put the principles of marketing practice into an engineering framework, an operator can swiftly deploy and test the popularity of different content collections, page layouts and configurations before releasing it to 100% of their customer base.

The informed, reliable decision-making that results – enabling the operator to get a granular understanding of optimal service characteristics based on user profile data such as gender, age, device or location – can have a transformative effect on the business.

The ability to perform speedy A/B testing relies on having a UI that can be modified on-the-fly, to enable users to find and access the service you wish to experiment with.

Of course as with any science engineering project, being able to measure success is essential. Today’s successful multiplatform entertainment services must measure against ambitious KPIs. If your system is highly automated, performance can be more efficient – you will be able to rapidly switch features on and off based on market test findings.

Ensuring that your processes are automated and driven by A/B testing, and your ability to harvest and interpret the data generated, can have a dramatic effect on your bottom line. Furthermore,  you are enabled to focus on true business value instead of sheer number of features.

It’s akin to carrying out a scientific experiment in a lab. On the one hand the scientist can invest time and money designing and carrying out one experiment, all the while, hoping for the best. If the experiment yields unsatisfactory results he or she has to go back to the drawing board and make new investments to design and set up a new experiment, and again anxiously wait for the outcome. On the other hand if the experimenter can conduct multiple highly automated simultaneous tests, the ones that work and the ones which fail can be detected and acted upon much more rapidly.

In this scenario, learning is continuous, and the ability to adapt and adjust speeds everything up.

Sadly, most operators today find themselves in that one-experiment-at-a-time paradigm. Typically, they are hamstrung by a UI that has a fixed layout, and static apps incapable of speedy, cost-effective adaptation. All these developments may have been faithfully designed to meet high specifications, but often they cannot easily be changed or even tweaked. Usually, management needs to assign a development team to dig back into the app and re-engineer – all costing time, human resource – unrealised revenues. Without this nimbleness, operators can soon realise their real disadvantage.

Operators all over the world have woken up to the reality that they need to launch new and/or improved services and business features smoothly, with maximum time and cost efficiency.

Rigorous science and engineering principles, processes and values can be the best fuel for this engine.

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Kai-Christian Borchers is Managing Director of 3 Screen Solutions. 3 Screen Solutions provides world-class software solutions to multiscreen service providers and technology innovators. Customers include major satellite, cable, IPTV, OTT and mobile TV operators, such as Unitymedia, Vodafone Kabel Deutschland, SES, Eutelsat, and 02/Telefonica. 3 Screen Solutions is Swisscom's principal development partner for the multi-award-winning Swisscom TV 2.0, widely acknowledged as having set a new benchmark for immersive, joined-up cross-screen content discovery and usability. www.3ss.tv