All good things must come to an end and so does the Smarter Media in Flanders project!

In 2010, I conducted an extensive survey of the Flemish media industry. It revealed that although local media players have a number of needs in common, each meets them in a separate way.

Media companies still collect, process, and publish content independently of one another. All are making similar efforts, at similar expense, to manage the very similar processes. This results in immense financial and logistical pressure on each of these players, with little or no real benefit. Managing many of these same processes do not differentiate the media companies from the services supplied by competitors.

Seeing that this was an inefficient way of working, I convinced the sector to look for a more intelligent approach – a way for them to discuss which services could be handled communally in the future. I presented on behalf of IBM the issue to the Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology (IWT). The result was the joint research project ‘Smarter Media in Flanders’ (SMIF), an interdisciplinary study – supported by the IWT and the academic institutions grouped by iMinds – that aims to innovate the way in which the Flemish media sector works together.

In January 2011, intense consultations between the different Flemish media players resulted in a consensus around six future joint research projects: the collection of sports results; the collection of local news (citizen journalism); a customized video distribution platform focused on the end consumer and on professionals (for example, a channel tailored to the medical world); a joint press archive (through which each player would have access to its own press articles); a copyright monitor (which would make it possible for media companies to monitor how their articles and photos were being used); and a shared proof-of-advertising system that, for example, would automatically send an e-mail to advertisers with a PDF of an advertisement that was being placed, including its context.

SMIF logo

During the project a shared cloud platform was established at iMinds to support the research conducted by the different research groups. It was the first hybrid cloud platform, mixing different processor technologies, different virtualization technologies, and different operation systems, all managed under the same single cloud platform. In addition IBM is also involved in the shared content distribution platform – based on IBM Smarter Commerce tools. The final result aims to be a truly intelligent media platform, in which the cloud is used to support improvements in efficiency and quality, and to bring about innovation in the form of new services to the consumer.

The results of the different research projects were presented end of last week during a public event at the iMinds office in Ghent. And to conclude the project IBM published a white paper and an article in the IBM Inspire magazine (in Dutch, see page 56).

Herewith we have now officially reached the end of a successful project!