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Blog

2020: a year in review

Dec 21, 2020 By Jon Finegold

What a year it’s been. 

2020 felt like one massive curveball, forcing all of us to change the way we work, interact with each other, and simply live. As the world and the M&E industry consider the year that was, we spent a moment to reflect on the journey our customers took over the last 12 months; the one-of-a-kind experience of 2020. 

Customer Camaraderie

Customers are always forefront on our minds, but 2020 raised that to new heights.  From conversations throughout the M&E landscape, along with a look at the metrics on our SaaS platform, we are proud of the role Signiant’s software played in helping our customers adapt quickly. One million Media Shuttle users, 50,000 businesses connected, a 230% increase in data moved into and out of cloud storage on our SaaS platform — these numbers show how quickly our customers were able to adapt, overcome challenges and keep content flowing despite unprecedented challenges. 

A Community in Lockdown

“It was like falling off a cliff,” we wrote in one blog. “On Wednesday, March 11, the announcement to cancel NAB was made. On Friday the 13th, we were working from home, school was canceled, we were socially distant, and nothing would ever be the same.”

With the pandemic’s abrupt lockdown and immediate need for remote workflows, our industry persevered, with organizations of all sizes reaching out to one another in support and camaraderie. Amongst the leaders in the industry’s response, Signiant CEO Margaret Craig swiftly announced that Signiant would be providing unlimited users for all Media Shuttle for customers through the end of May.

“We added close to 50 more accounts in Media Shuttle just overnight,” Eric Grau, Manager of Media Asset Management at Joyce Meyer Ministries, told Signiant at the height of the pandemic. “They’re collaborating and finishing projects. That’s been a huge key.”

This offer had a swift, visible impact on customers’ ability to continue working. Almost immediately, we saw our user base sky-rocket along with the number of transfers. That has only increased as quarantine continues. In fact, Media Shuttle saw an increase in concurrent transfers jump 80% since early March.

We also saw novel ways customers integrated Signiant into more complex remote collaboration workflows, such as Envy Post Production, with its focus on collaboration from afar. For Signiant and its customers, remote workflows meant more than just file transfers. It was critical to helping prepare businesses for the strictures of remote collaboration and a dispersed workforce. So, in November, ENVY, a Signiant customer, launched their new platform ENVY Remote, which connected producers and editors on and off-site via a rich suite of features and integrations. While ENVY had been experimenting with the idea previously, the new normal in M&E pushed them to accelerate the project, underscoring the need to invest in integration and dynamic, malleable solutions. 

Remote production quickly became the industry’s life-raft, ensuring workers’ safety while allowing organizations to continue making and distributing content. Nowhere was this more apparent than in the return of sports in the late spring. Both MLB and the NFL held successful remote drafts, while small on-site production teams covered NASCAR races, Bundesliga football matches, and the PGA tour. As enterprises had more time to adjust to the reality of remote working, they began to recognize its benefits — especially its flexibility — as Signiant’s Bill Thompson discussed in a webinar with TV Technology

This focus on the customer and the community continued beyond just our technical solutions, with two community-based projects in the spring. In The Pandemic Series, Signiant talked to media professionals in various positions, company-sizes, industry sectors, and global locations about their transition to remote work, along with technical and leadership challenges. We also partnered with the DPP, publishing two research/survey reports on the pandemic’s impact and outlook.

Customer-First Innovation

More so than anything, the pandemic emphasized the value of flexibility. As such, storage independence proved pivotal in the pandemic’s recovery, ensuring that companies could work how and where they wanted. To that end, Signiant introduced support for Google Cloud Platform. Adding this immediately helped clients, such as Hogarth Worldwide, expand their multi-cloud environments, moving content between platforms swiftly and securely via Signiant technology. Media Shuttle got further updates with the debut of S3-compatible on-prem object storage

As the year pressed on, we improved our products even more, looking to help evolve the way that M&E businesses approached their workflows. Since Signiant’s inception, this has been at the core of our mission, with Jet as the most recent example. In March, we were proud to announce the addition of new Jet APIs. In May, we saw the release of Jet Inter-company, allowing organizations to more easily set-up  automated content exchange across their supply chains. In September, we added post-transfer actions to Jet — an array of features that allowed for the automation of repetitive tasks such as archiving, copying, or expunging a moved file. 

Our investment in supporting our customers requires a constant eye towards evolution and innovation. This year, our Intelligent Transport technology was issued a new patent, and our CTO Ian Hamilton, shared insights on machine learning in his presentation Separating Signal from Noise.

So, what lies ahead?

Looking to the future

As the industry looks forward, Signiant continues to expand our solutions to empower our customers. This year, we were thrilled to welcome Mike Flathers — former IBM Aspera CTO — as our new Chief Solutions Officer. In this new role, he supports growing customer demand for deep engagement on how to best employ Signiant software to address emerging technical and operational challenges, and he will connect this exchange of ideas directly into the company’s product development organization. Additionally, Juan Pablo Garza joined the team. With a background at HP, Sony, Omneon and more, Juan Pablo will help Signiant support more organizations around the world, spearheading our work in the Latin American media market.

With the reality of what we’ve all weathered, and the promise of what’s to come, it’s impossible not to think about 2020 bittersweetly. As it seems as though the opportunity for some return to normalcy is peeking out from behind the clouds, it’s important to recognize the important role the  M&E industry plays in keeping us all informed, as well as providing well-needed distractions. With this in mind, let us celebrate the industry’s resilience to respond and keep content flowing even in the most challenging of times. 

Our customers’ victories, large and small, are indicative of the fighting spirit that defines this industry and which revealed itself in full force in 2020. We are proud to be a part of it.

For more on what the new year might bring, read our Signiant Executive Team’s industry predictions for 2021 here.