Broadcast Information Technology

 The convergence of technologies, rapid developments in business IT solutions, digitisation initiatives in the SABC have together placed an increased demand on the SABC for an encompassing IT Strategy. Coupled to the explosive growth of the Internet along with its ability to provide a platform for a truly international audience, the introduction of digital broadcasting, which is happening throughout the world, has necessitated a fresh and visionary look at the Information Technology in the SABC.
With Information Technology being a critical business enabler, the SABC wishes to reap the benefits of technology investment to advance the business strategies and improve the capital expenditure in the coming years. The SABC also requires the implemented systems to be flexible, support business drivers, support user customisation of output reports, and support system updates/enhancements in future.

Pertinent initiatives during 2009/10:

During 2009/10, several IT initiatives were put in place by BIT as it took responsibility for a very different way of deploying IT at SABC going forward. For instance:

” The establishment and resourcing of an Integration Competency Centre (ICC) to build artefacts that support and anchor IT and business integration as a discipline and an enterprise strategic competency in a manner that hitherto had not been technically possible:

  • The ICC developed enterprise class blueprints for coherent interfaces on SABC enterprise resource planning applications such as SAP, Landmark and TVBMS systems that support broad SABC business.

  • With the online mobile project, a key revenue project, the ICC is enabling an EPG information service that can provide information to all distribution platforms, namely the Digital Terrestrial Television, satellite, mobile and web (online) platforms. The availability of the electronic programme information, describing the content that is being broadcast, and the sanctity of the schedule to the sales and marketing process is vital.

  • Network upgrade countrywide with wireless access at SABC Auckland Park:
    This event changes the paradigm and economics of online work at the SABC campus and will do so even more countrywide as wireless hotspots are deployed in the regions.

  • One consolidated “ScheduAll” solution:
    Through careful planning and scheduling of discretionary activities, enterprise cost containment can be better managed

  • The transformation of BIT’s service management:
    – This enables service catalogue formulation and the opportunity to develop Service Level Agreements (SLAs) to manage SABC business in a coherent way.

  • Integration of the online presence by creating a common entry for the SABC online services:
    This is vital in building a credible online business at SABC with the critical mass base and page impressions to enable monetisation of online assets with confidence.

  • IT security enterprise-wide through implementing a regular complex password refresh for the SABC domain:
    The risk cost of not doing so in the past in terms of stolen IP and competitive /strategic differentiator data that fell into wrong hands is incalculable.

Consolidation of IT at SABC:

The consolidation of IT infrastructure and administrative functions will enable the SABC to move towards a shared service architecture and position BIT as an integrated delivery and competency hub for the whole of the SABC.

The shared service centre will provide a fully supported technical environment and services ranging from development support and integration to continuous improvement of widely used enterprise applications.

Through the shared services centre clear enterprise processes for knowledge management including product training, standards enforcements, technology benchmarking and metadata management will be established. These processes will in turn facilitate better impact analysis, software quality, and effective use of resources across the organization.

By consolidating all IT islands within the SABC into a single unified environment, and by putting in place a new organisational structure (as described in Chapter 6), a number of efficiencies will be achieved. For instance by:

  • Driving down consultancy costs by in-sourcing services with better structured shadowing agreements with SABC internal staff

    Consolidating skills and using them across the organisation (increase staff utilisation)

  • Consolidating enterprise purchase and effectively using this to negotiate better discounting arrangements with suppliers (providing economies of scale)

  • Driving down maintenance costs and optimising licence fees.

  • Reducing telephony costs by least cost routing and usage policy

  • Infrastructure consolidation

  • Operational efficiencies

New Media Services:

Although public service broadcasting was developed differently in each country, the difficulties faced in the new media environment are similar for all. Traditionally, public broadcasters have concentrated on television and radio services using the spectrum, which are allocated by the state in order to provide air services that cover a wide range of tastes and interests.

The changing landscape for broadcasting, the Internet, and the diffusion of multi-channel television certainly pose challenges to broadcasters and regulators simultaneously. As competition between channels increases, it is difficult for public broadcasters to remain detached from trends in the new competitive environment.

New Media Consolidation:

SABC’s New Media consolidation project was introduced at board level as part of the SABC corporate strategy to extend its broadcast business globally, rather than locally. Everyone should agree that the New Media is a strategic content publication as well as sales and marketing tool. But when the business realised how much they were spending on redundant hardware and software, it was clear it could save money by sharing an infrastructure for its entire New Media rendering. With more than 37 websites deployed on different platforms, the development and management of these products became very unwieldy and expensive.
It was therefore eminent that SABC find a solution that will provide an efficient and cost effective platform for rendering its online activities.

A rationalized approach to developing and managing Web assets allows Broadcast IT to meet business demands cost effectively, flexibly, and quickly while reducing ongoing maintenance and development costs. Rationalization is a primary goal of many IT departments today; the focus is to rationalizing the systems within the SABC to make the organization more agile to change.  To reach this goal, SABC has to implement a strategic vision of a standardized Web infrastructure that lets developers meet business requirements more rapidly by providing a common platform for service delivery, enabling existing systems to work better together, and improving application security. By taking a methodical and incremental approach to controlling Web sprawl, SABC would help to make Broadcast IT more productive while reducing maintenance costs of outmoded Web applications. Adopting a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and portal lifecycle management tools would provide the benefits of a single platform without losing the flexibility that SABC channels need to build custom-fit portals. The increasing costs of Web sprawl, emerging portal and Web services standards, and the openness and standards based approach of SABC’s web platform would enable SABC optimal time for it to develop plans for a rationalized and unified future.

Establishing an Information Security Framework

As a national key point, the SABC is required to provide effective information security that requires a comprehensive approach that considers a variety of areas both within and outside the information security field. The effectiveness of security controls depends on various factors such as system management, legal issues, quality assurance, and internal and management controls. Information security needs to work with traditional security disciplines like physical and personnel security.
The objective of adopting the Information Technology Security Framework is to establish a framework of policies and supporting sub-policies that will enable the SABC to comply with best practices for information security management. The Information Security policy and sub-policies, such as the Password Policy are intended to inform and guide staff on how to protect against information security threats.

The Implementation of information security controls is to enable the SABC to secure its information and business. This can be achieved through total commitment of the Management and Employees.