HITS Fall: Blockchain Presents Opportunity for M&E Industry, DXC Exec Says

Blockchain technology provides a good opportunity for the media and entertainment industry to overcome security and other challenges facing the Hollywood supply chain, according to Steve Wong, director of business development for DXC Technology’s Media & Entertainment Group.

“The goal today is really to start a conversation about blockchain,” he said Oct. 18 during a presentation on “Blockchain & the Hollywood Supply Chain” at the HITS Fall: Hollywood Innovation & Technology Summit event in Los Angeles.

When Wong started discussing blockchain database technology with other companies’ CTOs, he “saw a really interesting application for the media and entertainment industry” specifically because Hollywood is, after all, a “business of transactions,” he said. CTOs are predicting that “what Internet did for information, blockchain is going to do for transactions,” he noted.

Blockchain technology makes sure transactions are “safe and secure,” he said, describing a blockchain as basically a ledger system that removes banks from the online transaction process between two parties. While Bitcoin — the first widely-known blockchain-based technology — used a decentralized system, Hollywood will probably use a centralized form of blockchain, he said.

Applications in addition to Bitcoin-like ones are up to members of the media and entertainment industry, including the ones attending the event, he said, adding: “I think this is an opportunity for you.” But, in Hollywood, “the big six have to embrace blockchain for them to benefit” from the technology, he said.

Blockchain technology has been evolving at an “incredibly fast speed” over the past seven or so years, he said, suggesting to industry attendees that it’s time they start thinking about how they can use it in their businesses. Benefits provided by blockchain include “assurance,” “serenity” about the transaction process, more efficiency and greater intelligence because companies using it can track a transaction all the way through the process, he said.

In a panel that followed on “Blockchain’s Relevance and Impact on M&E,” Alanna Gombert, president of Gombert Consulting and former general manager of IAB Tech Lab, pointed out that “we do have a little bit of a fraud problem” in the advertising industry. Fixing each part of the ad transaction is a big focus for that sector this year and next year, she said, calling blockchain “an interesting solution.”

Testing the technology with a private blockchain is a “simple way to learn and know if it’s right for you or not,” she told attendees, adding: “What’s interesting to me” is that technology including blockchain is “making us honest — or at least it’s starting conversations in a public forum” that is more transparent.

But she said blockchain is “not a cure-all; it’s not the be-all and end-all” to solve security and other industry challenges. It’s important, however, that companies be open to those blockchain solutions that will at least help the “transaction-heavy environment” of advertising, especially when it comes to digital ads, she said.

While blockchain will have a potential impact on advertising, talent and distribution, panel moderator Guy Finley, executive director of the Media & Entertainment Services Alliance (MESA) and the Content Delivery & Security Association (CDSA), pointed out: “There’s so much confusion” about blockchain right now.

Blockchain technology can work with business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) transactions, Eric Iverson, chief information officer at Creative Artists Agency (CAA), said. Permission-free blockchain systems will likely work best for B2C, while permission-based blockchain systems will likely work best for B2B, he said, adding he saw “a lot of interesting opportunities” for permission-based blockchain solutions, in particular. He told attendees: “Discrete transactions probably are a good place to start” for media and entertainment companies looking to test blockchain technology.

The 2017 edition of HITS Fall was presented by Cast & Crew, with sponsorship by Ooyala, Sohonet, Microsoft Azure, Premiere Digital, TiVo, LiveTiles and Veritone. Produced by MESA, the event’s association partners include the Hollywood IT Society (HITS), the Smart Content Council, Women in Technology Hollywood (WiTH), the Los Angeles chapter of the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), and the CDSA.