Because you never know where the casual conversation takes you

Springtime is in the air again. Warmer weather. Trees and flowers coming out of winter slumber to bestow all the colors that nature has to offer. Birds singing among the branches. Man, the songs of spring! What more can you possibly add to this experience to make the season more fulfilling?

I don’t want to go over the top here, but I’m also excited because with April comes NAB 2023 in Las Vegas. The annual trade show for professional broadcasters, content creatives, and technologists offers a dizzying array of information about these professions and the existing and evolving tools to support them. If you want to see the near- and even long-term future of content creation and broadcast, you have to be at NAB—it’s where the entire industry converges.

NAB is highly influential to nearly everybody at some level

Okay, while maybe not as sweeping in societal impact as springtime in the northern hemisphere, I can argue that NAB does indeed affect most people positively in some way, shape, or form, especially the general public that isn’t involved day-to-day with content creation and broadcast. Why? Because in our modern digital information society, we’re all consumers of content and information which influence our lives, our perception of the world around us, and the way we work and play. What happens at NAB in Las Vegas definitely doesn’t stay there—the technology trends, the emerging best practices, and the relationships and partnerships formed and maintained ultimately become a part of everybody’s lives. Pretty heady stuff to think about, isn’t it?

I’ve participated in over a dozen NABs (except for the years when the show wasn’t held). I participated in most of those shows as a vendor representing a number of broadcast and content companies, not the least of which was Activision Blizzard where I directed post-production operations. Last year was different. For the first time, I was on the vendor side, representing OpenDrives and our data storage solutions which are purpose-built for media and content workflows. OpenDrives as a company grew out of the M&E industry, and the story about how I migrated from consumer to vendor stems from NAB.

NAB altered my career path

I have told the story elsewhere, but a quick summary goes like this. I was attending NAB a few years back while at Activision Blizzard. The post-production teams I managed were experiencing severe pain points around our existing storage solution. The problems were mounting and manifesting as workflow performance degradations that were starting to affect all the creatives and their output. Can’t have that! Prior to leaving, one of the engineers in the organization tipped me off to OpenDrives as an M&E-focused data storage company with amazing technology we might be able to leverage. Visiting the booth was at the top of my list. Out of that visit, during which I met some of the key leaders in the company and was invited to work hands-on with a very heavy timeline of 8K content, emerged one of the only times that I couldn’t “break” a product. No matter what I did, performance of the OpenDrives solution never deteriorated. I was sold, in more ways than one.

Other outcomes presented themselves over time. We brought OpenDrives in-house at Activision Blizzard, and the new data storage solution was a huge success. More importantly, I had become such an advocate of the technology that opportunities to take my career in another direction presented themselves. Obviously, I made the leap to a vendor organization I was truly proud to represent. And that’s where I will be this year, just as I was last year, catching up with the industry, my extensive body of friends and contacts, and the trends that continue to drive broadcast and content creation into the future.

Allow the show to work for you

NAB isn’t necessarily about the hard sell. Sure, you can drop by vendor booths one after the other where you will get a determined pitch, a demonstration, and perhaps no small amount of encouragement to take “next steps” with the vendor. As a matter of fact, if you’re into that type of experience—which many people absolutely want and need—then NAB has that in spades. Sometimes, you’re just in the right position at the right time to decide upon a final technology purchase, and NAB collects all the relevant vendors under one roof to make that comparative shopping easy.

The more nuanced side of NAB, though, is what I’m really looking forward to. The opportunities to engage in casual shop talk with curious professionals, to understand different movements and developments in the profession that may be beneficial to the organization, and to just get the word out and also get good feedback is what excites me. I really enjoy all that. However, the more personal discussions with old friends, trusted partners, and even new acquaintances, sometimes not even on the show floor but over a cup of coffee or a drink in the evening, offer. the opportunity really to listen, to understand, and to ideate. Nothing helps you do your job better than sharing experiences and soliciting ideas from people you know, respect, and trust.

If you’re attending NAB and passing on these types of opportunities, I would beg you to reconsider. The personal side of NAB is just as enchanting as the tools, the tech, and the high-level pitch talk. You never know where the conversations will take you, your organization, and even your career. Of course, you never will know until you consciously embrace everything that NAB has to offer: on the floor, in the booths, at the café, or at the dinner table with friends. The cost of that missed opportunity could be steep!

If you happen to be looking for me

As for me, you can find me at the OpenDrives booth and also on the show floor. If you’d like, we can make other plans to meet up whenever and wherever you’d like, so we can discuss what you’re seeing on the floor too, or what pain points you’re experiencing in your own organization, or even what best practices you’ve discovered in the previous year. I welcome each and every meeting, and of course next year I will look forward to NAB 2024 to gauge where we all have traveled throughout 2023 and how to make course corrections to make 2024 an even more successful year.

I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s focus on NAB 2023. See you there?