Q&A: Grass Valley’s Neerav Shah discusses strategic thinking; increasing industry confidence in IP operation
Little more than five months ago Grass Valley was joined by Neerav Shah – a veritable broadcast industry stalwart with more than 25 years of experience in product development, marketing, operations and business development – in the role of Senior VP, Strategic Marketing. In this new role, Shah will work closely with his team to refine Grass Valley’s product strategy and market positioning in order to “ensure alignment with the rapidly changing needs” of global broadcast.
“Rapidly changing” is certainly no overstatement, as the plentiful evidence at the show of broadcasters and service providers embracing IP production, 4K/UHD and HDR, among other technologies, attests. Not surprisingly, several of these developments cropped up during SVG Europe’s IBC Day 1 conversation with Shah…
What would you identify as your main career highlights prior to joining Grass Valley?
I would say the main milestones were starting my own company at an early stage and being successful with that, and then more recently working with ARRIS, where I led the video team and helped to drive the success the company has enjoyed there. Now I am working to institute a culture of change and drive innovation forward with Grass Valley with regard to positioning and messaging.
How would you define the primary pillars of the GV strategy moving forward?
There are really three main pillars of the strategy. The first is live production, which is all about bringing together and tying together our cameras, switchers and replay devices to make it easy to create content in multiple formats, and manage and maintain that content, and be able to display it on multiple displays. [Above all] the technology needs to be easier to work, whether it’s in a fixed facility or OB environment.
The second element is news, which is all about being faster and faster, and where we can really capitalise [on our heritage]. In particular, we are talking here about the integration between Ignite [automated production system] and Stratus, and how those are pulled together and coupled with our editing platform. It’s all about processing, managing and delivering solutions for news broadcasters today, as well as being able to [output to] social media as well.
The third piece is to continue our dominance in content delivery. In this context, I would highlight the iTX Integrated Playout Platform and iTX On-Demand solutions, and [their ability to connect users] to the right content at the right time.
All of the above applications are underpinned by the critical networking layer that is so important to any workflow – and even more so now that IP is starting to gain traction. Our Broadcast Data Center solution, comprised of broadcast-centric, IP-enabled components like GV Node wrapped around a COTS IT Cisco backbone, ensures that all signals are managed and controlled efficiently. It’s truly the necessary foundation for all of our customers’ key applications.
The AIMS (Alliance for IP Media Solutions) – of which Grass Valley is a member – has announced a number of new additions in recent weeks, and therefore appears to be picking up considerable momentum. So how do far along do you think we are in terms of the move to IP?
I think we are starting to see it pick up significantly. At the start of adoption there was a fair bit of confusion about how to get content and move it around. But I think [through the efforts of AIMS] there has been a lot of progress in terms of helping to simplify the outlook by bringing standards together and saying ‘actually, there is interoperability’. It is really bringing clarity into that marketplace, which is obviously very helpful.
The Arena Television IP-based 4K/UHD – which features a variety of products from Grass Valley – shows how far we have come, and what can be achieved…
Absolutely. The Arena truck shows what can be done with IP and brings together a Grass Valley node and control system, Cisco IP switch and so on, with a view to creating and delivering content from an OB facility.
[Looking ahead] I think we are going to see more and more IP, and what was once an exception will become the rule. This is also reflected in what seems like a more energetic, upbeat feeling at the show, which is nice to see as there had been quite a bit of caution in recent years.