The Elusive "Sure Thing" in Software

By Marketron CEO Jeff Haley

Anyone who has spent time cursing the gods at Microsoft or Apple when their laptop doesn’t perform how it’s supposed to knows that software and the science behind it is never a sure thing. Over the course of my career in the radio industry helping broadcasters run their businesses, I have engaged in more discussions about the newest trend in software development and its exact benefit to customers than I can count. And almost always, it’s never a cut-and-dried scenario.

But recently, I've come to realize there is one sure thing amongst all software trends that can guide our business and that of our customers: Software as Service (SaaS) enabled Open Platforms. Open SaaS Platforms are not top-of-mind for radio folks but they should be. This is the elusive sure thing and I can tell you with certainty that as more broadcasters adopt this platform (at Marketron, we call it Mediascape) it will be the thing that drives efficiency in radio.

However, this is not meant to be a sales pitch and I don’t want to talk about product specifics. Instead, I want to call attention to the attributes that will make sense for broadcasters -- collaboration, utility, scale, and flexibility. These are the elements of a platform approach to software that drive efficiency. They are hard goals to argue with and the metrics to success in any business.

I have occasionally joked that for some in radio, the definition of efficiency is unscrewing every other light bulb in the conference rooms and hallways of their offices. I have actually toured a few stations with some pretty dim surroundings. But achieving true efficiency in our business process is where the real savings and cost reductions can be found. I can tell you firsthand that moving our customers to an Open SaaS Platform has already resulted in major changes.

Open SaaS Platforms not only free up staffing resources, but also make it much easier to keep up with evolving technologies. Last month, I was involved in a sales pitch at a broadcaster who still uses a proprietary home-built traffic system for their station group. Sure, their cost to maintain that system is less than we would charge in fees, but the staffing needed to run their system is double what it would take to run the same business process on our open platform solution. While our average customer has 0.24 people per station doing traffic, this broadcaster has 0.47 traffic staff per station just to maintain their system as it is. These numbers don’t even consider the maintenance and development staff necessary to keep the software and other tools needed for operation up to date. Whether you have a group of 10 stations or several hundred, the numbers speak for themselves.