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Posted on Mar 25, 2021 by FEED Staff

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With Flexible Access, Vizrt has embarked on nothing less than a complete overhaul of how it does business. But what’s steering this change in direction, and why take it now?

Vizrt wants to change the way content is created.

And so, in January, it launched Flexible Access – a fundamental shift in the relationship the Norwegian visual solutions company shares with its customers.

It aims to provide an accelerated, low-risk approach that enables content creators to get productions up and running free from substantial initial costs.

Put simply, the range of Vizrt products – all the software for production control, graphics, newsrooms, workflow, AR and collaboration, as well as the middleware that glues it all together – has been collected into integrated Solution Suites targeted at specific workflows. Instead of buying and configuring a chain of different products together, and being an expert in all of them, customers are guided towards the suite that meets their specific needs. Rather than investing heavily up front, users pay for what they need when they need it, and the suites are deployed as software-defined solutions.

“We wanted to simplify access to our technology,” explains Steve Wind-Mozley, Vizrt’s CMO. “We’re committed to dialling down the complexity of live production, so storytellers can dial up their creativity.

“We are not ‘dumbing down’ our solutions by parring them back in terms of functionality,” he stresses. “Rather, we have streamlined them to give friction-free access to the full Vizrt worfklows in a way that was not always previously possible.”

We have streamlined our solutions to give friction-free access to vizrt workflows

Sharing the risk

As Wind-Mozley observes, content creators have traditionally invested considerable capital sums up front in the anticipation of making a return. “Many customers are now saying that – with the way the world works and the way it’s so rapidly changing – we can’t think about a five-year horizon for technology investment. In the modern world, five years of progress often means a whole generation of technology.”

Dr Andrew Cross, president of research & development at Vizrt, condemns the lack of flexibility the traditional model offers, saying it hampers the ability of customers to trial ideas and innovate. “We obviously spend a lot of money building software and investing in it, but fundamentally, requiring a customer to pay for everything up front to use it certainly doesn’t make sense for the market.

“Our industry is at a point where a smart kid on YouTube can make a show that rivals the audience of a local TV station for a much lower cost. For our customers and broadcasters to compete for those audiences, they need to be able to try things – they need to pay to create new channels, but you can’t drop $2m on studio investments just to try that out.”

However, the model offered by Flexible Access means that instead of instant returns, Vizrt is looking to share some of the investment risk with its customers, betting on that fact that, by providing easier access to better visual storytelling tools now, the customer is able to generate more compelling content sooner and deliver better value returns.

“Potentially, if the customer took Flexible Access for just one month, that’s clearly not going to work,” says Cross. “If we can do this, then we can help transform the broadcast industry.”

Industry blessing

“We started this journey by partnering with some of our closest customers, working together to create a new approach that could help them transform their businesses for the better,” says André Torsvik, head of marketing strategy and planning at Vizrt. ”Their perspective is already baked into Flexible Access.

“Before, a customer’s quote might include 50 different things that would need to be put together in order to create a solution. Nowadays, we can provide one suite and one price, which can be swiftly deployed and up and running,” he adds.

Torsvik says the proven Vizrt products that are used across the industry still exist inside and underneath, powering the Solution Suites.

“There is all kinds of potential for synergies,” he explains. “You will see some changes, especially in the Live Production Suite, where we have a combination of a software switcher, automation and advanced graphics. Nobody else offers anything like it in the market.”

Another thing that’s flexible is the installation.

The software can be installed locally, on specified off-the-shelf computer hardware, or virtualised for use in private or public cloud environments.

“Remote deployment is embedded into every package as a basic offering,” says Wind-Mozley. “If you want to have our engineers turn up and do a turnkey then, yes, absolutely, that’s an option, too. We want to look at the entire customer experience.”

Torsvik adds: “We understand that people are not going to move to the cloud or remote immediately, and so we’re continuing to serve them by providing hardware for those who need to purchase today. But we are also in the process of publishing hardware requirements for all these suites to enable people to find ways to run it anywhere they want – or even on equipment they might already have. We want to supply solutions you could use on-premises, in a private data centre, or private cloud or public cloud. This choice should be determined by you and your business needs rather than being determined by a technical constraint.”

You’ve got to make great products and you’ve got to make them accessible to customers

However, existing Vizrt customers will not be forgotten. “We’re still committed to our installed base and them driving value from their investment,” says Wind-Mozley. “We sold it to the customer for a reason, it was purchased for a reason, all of those reasons still stand true, and we are absolutely here for our customers. Flexible Access means that now, they have additional options open to them.”

Customers who really need the traditional business model are also covered. Cross explains: “We obviously know that this way of thinking is a change for the market, but we are very excited about this direction and we are going to support our customers through this transition. One of our key initiatives has been ramping up the user experience. A product that’s not usable is not a product at all. If people don’t get to use your innovation, it’s really got no value. You’ve got to make great products and you’ve got to make them accessible to customers.”

Customer focus

To help aid the transition to Flexible Access, the company has completely restructured its approach to customers. Wind-Mozley explains: “We’ve taken our professional services, our training teams, our pre sales and solution architecture teams, and we’ve created a Customer Success unit whose job is to simply sit down with customers and ask: how can we help you be more successful?

“Our Newsroom Solution does exactly that,” he adds. “It’s designed so journalists can understand it and use it quickly, so the broadcast engineer can harness it and so the CFO can see how it’s going to drive value for their business. Because only by our customers being successful can we be successful.”

This article first featured in the Spring 2021 issue of FEED magazine.

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