A cloud-driven digital strategy has helped us to stay ahead in the pandemic: Tata Play

India is witnessing a rapid over-the-top (OTT) adoption and according to reports, OTT currently has a 7-9 per cent market share in India’s $27 billion media and entertainment industry (M&E) industry.

However, by 2030, OTT’s market share is expected to increase to 22 per cent-25 per cent, according to a recent report by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Boston Consulting Group (BCG). India’s media and entertainment industry has revived to pre-Covid levels and is expected to grow to $55-70 bn by 2030 at 10-12 per cent CAGR.

Tata Play (previously Tata Sky) has already created a distinctive mark in the ecosystem as well as in the minds of the customers, as a holistic content distribution platform that aggregates and brings together both TV and OTT content.

IANS spoke to Dwarka Srinath, Chief Information Officer (CIO) of Tata Play, about how the company has adopted an overall Cloud-based digital strategy in the past two years in the pandemic to stay ahead in the entertainment space.

Excerpts from the interview below:

The pandemic compressed the digital transformation journeys of many businesses. Tell us about some of your key strategic digital initiatives over the last two years?

Digital transformation of business value has always been a mindset and focus well before the Pandemic began. There are several programmes which have delivered and improved journeys to promote self-service via digital channels to the maximum for subscribers and partners.

Some of the important ones are: portal self-service chat capability, WhatsApp platform, contact center WFH, strengthen the sales force and service force automation with all capabilities to succeed in the pandemic, analytics on cloud. There has been a significant number of partner and customer facing capabilities that have been moved to Opensource microservices architecture on cloud.

Except for working remotely, Tata Play as an organization has always had a flexi working setup and has believed that every process in the organization should be digitized for people to embrace technology at all touch points. Adopting an overall digital strategy in the past two years has helped us measure the progress and processes accurately, plug leakages and have compounding benefits in the long run.

With the restrictions induced by the pandemic and having to adopt remote working for business continuity, deploying and following the BCP processes became a necessity. We were quick on our feet to structurally identify processes that could be adopted and deploy alternate SOP’s to mitigate them. Another game changer has been taking the decision to move to cloud.

Tata Play as an organization has never believed in a lift and shift approach to cloud. We have been ardent followers of rewriting applications to cloud’s native architecture to reap the true benefits of the system.

Given the rapid pace of OTT adoption in India, where will Tata Sky fit in this ecosystem over the medium to long term?

Tata Play has already created its positioning in the ecosystem as well as in the minds of the customers, as a holistic content distribution platform that aggregates and brings together both TV and OTT content. The newly introduced Tata Play Binge Combo Packs brings linear TV channels and 12 OTT apps together in a single subscription. Packs containing Netflix are also available.

The 12 apps include Disney+ Hotstar, Zee5, Voot, and SonyLiv, among others. These along with Amazon Prime can be accessed through the unified user interface of the Tata Play Binge App on Amazon Fire TV Stick – Tata Play edition or Tata Play Binge+ Android set top box or the Mobile app available on Android and iOS. Our endeavour will always be to grow and strengthen this positioning and become the ultimate destination for all things entertainment.

What did cloud technology allow you to do that you couldn’t do before? What did AWS enable you to do better?

Tata Play has been an AWS customer since 2008. We have successfully executed multiple transformation projects to cloud since then. We have been more aggressive since 2016 and are gaining momentum every single quarter. All our customer facing workloads, Data platforms, Visualization, ML Ops etc. are on AWS. These are built on Open source, microservices and auto-scale architecture.

Cloud easily enables scale on need for events where instances can be retired after the need. Other aspects which we have seen tremendous value with cloud are: – resilient architecture, enable innovative platforms with cloud first new age partners/start-ups ecosystem, availability of cutting-edge innovation from cloud partner, auto-scale, cost savings etc.

AWS has a very wide range of services suitable to our business needs all the way from instances, databases, data, analytics and automation. AWS has a vast partner ecosystem which brings excellent technology expertise to enable business value. These ISVs plus AWS are helping Tata Play give a delightful entertainment experience across 20 million plus households.

We as an organization have been very particular about analytics and scalability of applications and AWS helps us achieve burstable 100x capacity in no time. AWS also has a thriving and vibrant ecosystem when it comes to analytics.

In terms of business outcomes, what benefits have you experienced because of running on AWS?

The major benefits that has helped us grow are:

AWS and partner ecosystem for managing out customer facing portals, self-service platforms, data workbench etc. These are on auto-scale which ensures no additional deployment of resources unless on need; We have also witnessed an increased time to market with 3x faster in GTM; We have seen an overall cost reduction in TCO by 55 per cent; Along with improved availability- With multiple accessible zones, applications are always available with no need to have a dedicated DR environment

What are the must have qualities of a successful CIO/CTO today?

CIO /CTO needs to have an extremely clear understanding of the long-term business to build a deliverable roadmap at the right cost. Effective Business engagement is a key skill. One has to specialize in building/delivering data-driven platforms at scale for all the business processes. These platforms need to deliver agility to launch new products and extreme pace and ensure agility to deliver faster and faster.

CIO/CTO needs to be ahead of the game by identifying new Technology of Business value, building/onboarding agile new age partners, products and delivering these platforms at scale (Not PoC or Pilots). These must directly address the measurable business metrics/outcomes.

Architecture skills/experience on the platforms to buy/build ensuring automation scale uptime and data. Without this it is very difficult to build a sustainable futuristic estate at the right cost. Another important aspect is to build a technical team and partner ecosystem of core subject area expertise. The team need to be totally capable to technically select, architect, design and deliver platforms/processes.

Dwarka SrinathTata Play
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