We’re excited to share The Network, Microsoft’s first podcast series for the media, entertainment, and telecommunications (telco) industries. The world has changed a lot in the past year, but much of that change has been driven by trends that began as long as a decade ago. As Microsoft’s global Director of Marketing for both M&E and Telco, my life revolves around industry transformation, cloud adoption, data, and AI, and the one word that describes how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected them all: acceleration. Organizations in both media and telco are changing at a mind-blowing speed. Customers and employees alike can see—and often applaud—the improvements technology has started to bring.

That’s what makes The Network so relevant. I was excited to be able to connect with the experts who have been putting this rapid change into practice as they’re doing it. Business leaders from around the world joined us to share their knowledge, and to help you along your own transformation journey. This, my friends, is The Network.

Episode 1: In the cloud: Content production reimagined

Stunning technological advances in CGI and animation haven’t quite made it to the rest of the film production process. But that’s begun to change. A 10-year horizon laid out in a report from MovieLabs provided a transformation roadmap for the industry with non-studio-specific tools like cloud-enabled workflows, artificial intelligence (AI), and automation. Covid-19 compressed that timeline, probably by years, and the industry has adjusted, adapted, and even begun to reopen.

Hanno Basse, Microsoft Azure’s CTO for media and entertainment, and Neil Beckford, vice president of technology and security at Technicolor Production Services, join me to talk about how collaboration, the cloud, and a common infrastructure will enable the creative minds in the industry to put their imagination first.

Episode 2: Optimizing next-gen telco networks

The investment in the rollout of 5G, perhaps not surprisingly, is mind-boggling. For telecommunications companies to recoup that investment, business as usual won’t cut it. They need to go beyond the idea of just connectivity and begin providing industry-specific solutions that leverage the power of low-latency, high-speed 5G networks.

Joining me in this episode are Ashwin Moranganti, Chief Product Officer at Affirmed Networks, Shriraj Gaglani, Chief Marketing Officer for telco solution provider Metaswitch, and Monte Hong, who oversees communications industry strategy in Microsoft’s worldwide media and communications practice. Our wide-ranging discussion touches upon the power of data, the Internet of Things, and the massive potential for the industry as a whole.

Episode 3: How data personalizes the media experience

As most of us changed our entertainment and viewing habits over the past year due to the pandemic, the media and entertainment industry has rapidly pivoted to take advantage of first-party data to personalize the audience experience. Whether it’s virtual movie-watching parties or taking one video experience and connecting viewers to similar music, gaming, and even live event content opportunities, entertainment has continued to move closer to a truly individual, personal activity.

My guests Jesse Redniss, co-founder of media incubation and investment firm Brave Ventures, and Jennifer Cooper, Microsoft’s global head of media and entertainment industry strategy, talk data, personalization, and making the media experience both engaging and secure.

Given all of the data that media organizations can collect in these cloud-based experiences, both of my guests see a future that showcases innovations we can hardly envision today alongside a focus on keeping audiences’ private data private.

Episode 4: Telco’s customer experience goes digital

Providing a meaningful customer experience has long been a challenge in the telco industry, and many customer experience leaders inside these organizations will acknowledge they still have a way to go. However, improved services that leverage AI and cloud-based technologies such as chatbots are changing those impressions.

We feature a great mix of guests on this episode: Kevin Knowles and Paul Jacobs, who both lead customer care teams at Vodaphone, as well as Rick Lievano, Worldwide Director of Microsoft’s Telco Solution Strategy, and technology strategist Luca Cassani, also of Microsoft, who talk about the new face of customer experience.

Episode 5: Transforming the audience experience

Media industry players both large and small have been coming up with innovative ways to engage audiences who participate in virtual experiences—and monetize not just the experience itself, but also related products and services. The past year has shown just how inventive and exciting these efforts can be, including a case study on how Microsoft helped to transform the world’s largest consumer tech conference into an entirely interactive digital experience.

Joining me are my colleagues and industry veterans Virl Hill, Microsoft’s business development lead for worldwide media and entertainment, Jennifer Cooper, global head of media and entertainment industry strategy, and Marc Perez, global solutions architect in Microsoft’s CTO’s Office for Modern Work. We explain how media entities are seeking to monetize their virtual experiences—and how some organizations have unexpectedly entered the media business—while making sure they continue to put their audiences first.

Episode 6: Empowering the telco workforce 

If Covid-19 had hit a decade earlier, most organizations would not have had the infrastructure or third-party collaboration tools that have allowed so many to recover so quickly. Joining me in this episode are Mike Little, vice president of sales and commercial operations for Lumen Technologies’ North American enterprise and public sector division, and a second appearance by my colleague here at Microsoft, Rick Lievano. These two industry heavyweights explain how telco has been a lifesaver in enabling employees to adapt to a work-from-home situation—not just for other organizations, but for their own as well.

Virtual workspaces and classrooms have meant a focus on increased bandwidth but also increased services to help organizations that had to compress five years’ worth of transformation into the span of a few months.

Rick and Mike also discuss using cloud tools to measure productivity success, as well as the new security concerns organizations, need to think about when their walls become virtual.

With three episodes focused on media and entertainment, and three more on telecommunications, the voices you hear in this first season of The Network portray a wide range of experts who have experienced rapid transformation themselves. We’re certain you’ll find them entertaining, but we also know you’ll learn a thing or two. Find The Network on your podcast platform of choice. Thanks for listening.