René van der Koelen and Jeroen van Rossum about innovation
‘Scanning the market and knowing all your options’
The media landscape is continuously changing, as is the way in which people gather information, experience video and consume. To tie in with these developments United has bumped up innovation on its list of priorities. René van der Koelen, Manager AV Techniek and Jeroen van Rossum, Product Manager Business Development, explain.
What does innovation mean to you?
René: ‘Innovation is in our blood. But organising innovation requires more structure. In the past, we were mostly working on demand, but we want to advise our customers at all times. The innovation process consists of scanning and knowing the market, so that we exactly know our options. Of course we want to be at the forefront of new technology, but we also want to know exactly how that technology can be used and whether it adds real value for us and our customers’
Jeroen: ‘It means that you have to keep up with all market and technical developments, always weighing which developments are relevant for us and which not.’
How does it work in practice?
Jeroen: ‘We do not believe in some kind of lab where a few guys brood on innovations. Anyone can and should come up with innovations. It starts with listening closely to everyone in the organisation, and to our customers. That leads to numerous useful ideas. Still, an idea should match our business or the direction that we as company have chosen, but that should not keep us from thinking out of the box, and sharing any ideas that follow.
René: ‘We have an innovation email group where people post ideas and we communicate what we’re doing. Even if open communication about innovation is sensitive, we try to be as transparent as possible, both in-house and externally. We hold regular meetings at which we share ideas with the right people, sparring about applications, further developments, etcetera. This is how projects are created. We are also open to partnerships and collaborations with our sister companies in the Euro Media Group – reinventing the wheel is a waste of time and energy.’
Could you give an example?
Jeroen: ‘We are doing really well on a day-to-day basis as far as innovation within our own domain is concerned. In the Netherlands we are leading in terms of UltraHD, and we have used new technologies for several productions, like remote broadcasting and augmented reality. We aim at further developing techniques and innovations, and increase their relevance and accessibility for our customers. That’s precisely what we have done with remote broadcasting; we are currently successfully using this technique for RTL Boulevard and RTL Late Night. Still, technology moves so fast that we always have to keep a finger on the pulse to make sure that we stay abreast of developments in our and other fields. That is broadcast, but increasingly online and IP.’
René: ‘Innovation projects don’t always have to be large scale. Developing solutions that improve our operational process is also a form of innovation, in our opinion. An example is the tally system (WUTI) that we recently developed based on the energy-efficient wireless LoRa network.’