How Cloud Collaboration is Transforming – and Safeguarding – All Industries, including Media & Entertainment
GUEST BLOG BY JIM QUANCI, AUTODESK SR. DIRECTOR
As more companies shift to cloud collaboration, entire industries—from construction to motion pictures—are being transformed by this digital revolution.
Back when Y2K was a major concern in the digital realm, it might’ve sounded like a far-off prophecy that people could one day work together on a project, from their own computers, from opposite sides of the world, simultaneously. But that time is here. Welcome to the age of cloud collaboration.
Cloud computing is the peak of the digital transformation journey. As companies increasingly migrate to the cloud, it will:
- Enable better, faster decision making
- Power the creation of better-performing products—from machines to buildings to entertainment
- Increase creativity and innovation by eliminating time lost on low-value activities
- Dramatically increase sustainability and reliability of products
The cloud can enable real collaboration: enterprise-level collaboration. Sharing the right data with the right people accelerates workflows and creates better decision-making and greater value across the organization.
Let’s take a closer look at cloud collaboration—where it’s been, where it’s going, and how it’s driving the future of work and transforming industries.
What Is Cloud Collaboration?
Cloud collaboration is the ability for people to work together as a virtual team from the same source of information—the single source of truth—in one virtual space accessible from a website, a mobile app, or desktop software. Whether it’s used to realize a design, project, budget, or analysis, cloud collaboration enables easy data access for the right people at the right time, early and often, regardless of the tool used to author the data. An architect can share a building model; an engineer can review a drawing; or a film editor can upload a cut for the director to review.
- Uses digital instead of paper workflows
- Enables information access and sharing at any time, from anywhere
- Creates a single source of truth
Cloud collaboration is much bigger than just sharing files: It’s about sharing data. Project- and team-based cloud collaboration are just the first steps. The real “ah-ha” moment comes through enterprise collaboration, which means everyone in a company works together from a single source of information, dramatically improving a company’s value-creation for its customers.
History of Collaboration: The Move from Desktops to the Cloud
Picture the way people used to work together. It was manual, clunky, and inefficient. Long before the cloud was on the horizon, companies often had document-control departments. If you wanted a drawing or a file, you’d give a document number to request a printout. And if there were team members in a different locations, you raced against the clock to get the files or blueprints to FedEx on time.
Collaboration became easier with the advent of PDF and JPEG files. However, one still had to save the files on a computer and email entire files to colleagues, who then needed the right software to open them. And the data was locked in these proprietary files. Engineers couldn’t just send a new design to the purchasing department for sourcing. They had to plot out a PDF or print a drawing that almost immediately became an outdated, alternate source of truth. If someone made revisions, they had to save a new version. It got confusing fast, with labor spent sorting through multiple incarnations to find the most recent version and making sure everyone was working off the right one. We’ve all been victims of “version control hell.” We were in information silos and workflows that, well, didn’t flow.
Then, collaboration software arrived that enabled teams to work together, like building information modeling (BIM) tools. The digital transformation started to happen as companies learned to use the internet to quickly share information. But this created the “N 2” problem as information was replicated as was shared quickly with many more people, resulting in an “accelerated version control hell.” The cloud was the answer. In the early 2000s, Amazon and Google released early versions of consumer and corporate clouds. Then over time, Microsoft, IBM, Alibaba, and others joined in. Suddenly, data had a place to call home. Cue the 2020 pandemic: Cloud collaboration accelerated like a bullet train as people were forced to work remotely almost overnight. For many companies, the cloud quickly went from a long-range goal to a must-have business strategy.
- In 2012, only 20% of companies had made major shifts to the cloud.
- Cloud spending peaked at $410 billion in 2021, a figure that will be surpassed by $80+ billion in 2022 according to Gartner. In 2023, cloud revenues are predicted to reach $600 billion.
- By 2025, it is forecasted that 85% of companies will have shifted to a cloud-first business strategy.
Top 10 Benefits of Cloud Computing and Collaboration
The cloud is revolutionizing work, business, and entire industries. Here’s how.
- Better Products
Easy access to information, from almost any device, early and often, and by the right people gives collaborators full visibility, enabling them to make better decisions at every stage of the process. The result is a more reliable, higher-performing product.
- Higher Engagement and Productivity
The cloud is an open field with no limit to the number of users. This inclusion empowers people to connect, contribute, and be a part of the collaborative effort, which has a direct impact on engagement and productivity.
- Increased Sustainability
A cloud-first strategy means sustainability experts can access information early and often, resulting in more sustainable outcomes. The whole team learns and gets a better understanding of how its decisions impact embedded and operating carbon, energy use, and waste.
- Greater Innovation
Cross-functional teams can work together on projects in real time from any location. Collaboration spurs new ideas, so it’s no surprise that innovation will soon account for 75% of the cloud’s value. The irony is the pandemic likely reduced innovation among previously face-to-face teams—but cloud collaboration then dramatically increased the size of the teams and innovation by enabling experts to contribute from around the world.
- Lower Costs
The cloud is a more efficient way to work. It consolidates teams, centralizes information, and sheds excess steps, saving time and money. A few other ways it reduces costs include:
Less Waste: Cloud collaboration allows an exchange of information that yields better decisions and fewer mistakes/less rework.
Shorter Lifecycles: The end-to-end project lifecycle is shorter with cloud collaboration, which reduces labor costs.
- Faster Time to Market
Wait times are nonexistent in the cloud. People have access to the data they need, whenever they need it. The real-time capabilities move production and decisions at a faster clip.
- Increased Safety
Whether it’s on the shop floor or a construction site, having full visibility at all times enables project managers to better assess risks before production and improve safety during production.
The cloud can easily accommodate business growth and scale as a company gets bigger. Plus one can quickly reduce costs when the business hits a slow period. Aligning costs and value creation is a powerful financial benefit for any business.
- Meeting and Beating Delivery Times
With greater efficiency and faster time to market enabled by better, faster communications and decision-making, companies can meet (and even beat) deadlines and hit those delivery targets faster than ever.
- Customer Satisfaction and Success
Getting better products to customers faster is great for business. It means happier end users and greater customer retention. By passing along the benefits of cloud collaboration, you’re also contributing to customers’ success.
All these benefits culminate in the ultimate goal: higher profitability. MIT Sloan revealed that companies in the top 10% of the digital transformation have doubled the revenue growth of companies in the bottom 25% of that spectrum.
How the Cloud Can Help Transform Industries
For individual companies, digital transformation can lead to greater resilience and a competitive edge. But collectively, digital transformation will revolutionize industries. For example, as governments around the world create BIM mandates for public projects, companies are accelerating their digital transformations and diving headfirst into the cloud, which is changing the entire architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry. Here are the way digital transformation and cloud-first strategies are benefiting AEC, design and manufacturing, and the media and entertainment industries—including examples of individual companies that have found great success using the cloud.
The Media and Entertainment Industry
The media and entertainment industry (M&E) is powered by creative collaboration sessions that have long happened in person—in the writer’s room, on set, or in the edit room. It’s also been a linear process, which meant that any changes after the production phase was wrapped often required expensive re-shoots. A month into storyboarding or character development, a producer might not like the direction of a specific character, forcing designers to scrap their work and start again. And sometimes a change might be due to technical issues, like colors that don’t work well on 70mm projectors or for future merchandising.
Digital, cloud-based workflows benefit M&E in several ways:
- Full visibility across an entire production from the script to screen yields smoother workflows and fewer redesigns and reshoots by letting everyone be involved in the design and preproduction phase.
- The cloud ensures tighter control over who can see what, where, and when, preventing leaks before the film or product release with better IP security standards.
- Provides a platform to review information—like footage—in real time and make changes during production instead of after.
- Aligns the often hundreds of people who work on a single production, game, or product.
- Instead of bulky film or video, all data is stored in the cloud for more organized asset management and searchable files.
Amazon Studios Powers the Rings Remotely
With 10,000 visual effects shots created by 20 VFX houses, The Rings of Power series by Amazon Studios is one of the most complex productions to date—and it was accomplished by a remote, international workforce. M&E has long been an industry that relies on physical assets, like film reels and digital tapes. But to orchestrate a network of data on increasingly complex projects, Amazon is leveraging the cloud. Software like Autodesk ShotGrid and Moxion streamlines handoffs from one department to the next and shares footage instantaneously with editors and executives for real-time story edits.
Jellyfish Pictures Collabs Globally for Over a Decade
The animation and VFX company Jellyfish Pictures is no stranger to the cloud. In fact, the company that has produced work for features like Star Wars: The Last Jedi and series like Stranger Things started using the cloud 10 years ago. The teams working in different countries wanted to create one virtual roof under which to work. At the time, there was a lack of quality tools designed for cloud collaboration. Today, Jellyfish uses cloud solutions like ShotGrid to assign tasks to different teams, break down silos, and coordinate work on shared projects.
What Is the Future of Cloud Collaboration?
Nearly 90% of companies are migrating their workflows to the cloud. That’s a great sign, but most are still early in that journey and have yet to realize the full power of cloud collaboration. Until now, collaboration tools have focused on teams and projects. Even Autodesk got its start with team collaboration software. But now it’s time to think bigger with solutions like Autodesk Flow for media and entertainment, to align with the direction that cloud collaboration is headed: enterprise collaboration.
It’s not just the art teams who need access to data. Project costs also include sales, marketing, software subscriptions, wages, cloud usage, overhead, and operations. Elevating collaboration from the team to the enterprise level means everyone works from a single source of information, from the onset of a project. From financing to marketing to sales to production, when people have access to the data they need early in the process, they have greater visibility to make better decisions that benefit the entire organization. It’s a shift from local design optimization to global optimization for the whole enterprise.
This change from just helping the design-and-make process to empowering the larger enterprise is powered by platforms like Autodesk Platform Services and industry clouds like Autodesk Flow for media and entertainment, Fusion 360 for manufacturing, Autodesk Forma for AEC, and —connecting people, processes, and data.
On a project level, cloud collaboration means faster delivery times, lower costs and greater sustainability. On the enterprise level, it means a leaner, faster organization, happier customers, greater innovation, and higher profits. Cloud collaboration is the glue that makes this a reality for companies, their customers, and entire industries.