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May 4, 2022

NAB 2022 Observations

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By Todd Erdley | President and Founder at Videon

Joyous. If there is one word to describe NAB, it would be the joyous attitude of everyone I encountered. Need to do a long walk between the new West Hall and Central Halls? No worries, at least we are back together. Is someone late for your meeting? No worries, at least we are together. My description of NAB 2022 is joyous.

There was half the number of people but those that were there, wow, what a group. With fewer people and less booth density, it was easy to move around, find amazing technology, and talk to industry leaders. The opportunity to really absorb things on the show floor was stronger than I can ever recall.

But what did we really see and learn? My biggest NAB observation is how the technological half-life has decreased to a point where even we, as technology leaders, can no longer understand how things fit together. That is a problem. It is a huge problem. As evidence of this, we heard two major things repeatedly throughout NAB.

First, we as an industry can no longer sell stand-alone products. We as an industry must transform products into solutions. As one Sr. Exec. said to me, we have to change our focus from providing building blocks for builders to create outcomes to solutions that can be purchased.

Second, if you cannot control or see something from the cloud, that is a problem. It is an operational problem. It is an end-user problem. Without everything linking back to the cloud for control, management, and orchestration, we, as industry leaders, have not fully satisfied the needs of our customers.

The “why” is our call to action.

Why are these two things important? It reflects how our customers are changing. The days of finite content broadcasting through complex infrastructure to millions of users are quickly changing. Content creation is happening rapidly, resulting in millions of “channels” now being made available to whoever wants that information in any form they wish to digest it.

To achieve full democratization of content, we as technologists must change our thinking. We must remove our, “but that is how it is done” thinking to a thinking focused on hyper satisfying the customer. We must look at the overall supply chain of video from any source to any destination and understand where the system creates friction.

Sounds challenging, right? I actually don’t think so, and here’s why.

NAB 2022 showed us clearly that we as an industry have an opportunity to transform. For years we have been faced with the variables of video resolution, codec evolution, processor enhancements, and bandwidth increases. This has been a highly intricate dance towards delivering the best possible outcome given the constraint of each variable. What if we could hold two variables constant while the other variables continued to change?

And herein lies a key nuance from NAB 2022: video resolution is relatively constant and video codecs, while evolving, are relatively constant. Yet, processing speed continues to increase, and bandwidth, thanks to 5G and other technologies, continues to increase. If bandwidth and processing speed increase but video content takes up less of the pipe, how might we rethink our problem?

I firmly believe that NAB 2022 was the starting point for great acceleration towards democratized delivery of all content. I believe that as computing continues to increase, it will be a continuum, starting with the point video originates all the way to the point video is displayed. I strongly believe that as bandwidth continues to increase, compute as a continuum will accelerate. And I believe that being able to seamlessly move compute resources from cloud to ingest to distribution will allow us as technology leaders to truly deliver on the promise of consumer outcomes that drive scale for everyone. And with that, we as technologists can overcome the inherent problem of an ever-decreasing technology half-life. 

NAB2022 represents the step towards hyper-scale for our industry, and for that, I am joyous.

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