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SME '19: Datazoom’s Diane Strutner Talks Real-Time Data and Women in Streaming Media

Learn more about video data infrastructure at Streaming Media's next event.

Read the complete transcript of this interview:

Tim Siglin: Welcome back to this last interview of Tuesday, the first day of Streaming Media East 2019. I'm Tim Siglin, Contributing Editor over at Streaming Media Magazine and the founding executive director of the not-for-profit HelpMe! Stream. With me today, I've got Diane Strutner. Diane's the CEO and Co-Founder of Datazoom. She's also one of the inaugural members of Women in Streaming Media, and we'll get to Women in Streaming later, but first tell the audience about Datazoom.

Diane Strutner: Datazoom is a new category of software in the steaming video space, and it's a video data infrastructure platform. Basically, what we do is, we capture, we centralize, standardize, and then integrate data in real time, that's created from the playback, delivery, and production process of content. So the idea is that, video streaming is an end-to-end industry and we need data to be more end-to-end, and we need a specific data layer that's responsible for bringing all this data together, and that's Datazoom.

Tim Siglin: And so is it like a real-time user measurement model, like a Conviva, Cedexis, et cetera? or is it bigger than that?

Diane Strutner: It's bigger than that. I mean, parts of it are, there's some overlap in the sense that we also provide our own libraries and SDKs, but where we differentiate is that these are really, you know, let's call it a universal SDK. So instead of having bespoke integrations for all the different tools that you want to use, you can have a single integration to collect all the data you need to power any tool that you want to use. But beyond that, what Datazoom has seen in the market is that we really need to have data in context. So, we also want to see, when my video player is buffering, which might be playback data, what's my CDN doing at that time, which would be delivery data. And so being able to bring these data systems together, we can see the correlation and causation impact of these different types of services.

Tim Siglin: So looking at all aspects of the supply chain and understanding where there were bottlenecks.

Diane Strutner: Exactly. And it all starts with having really great data about what the end-user experience is because that's where we make our business today. So we use that as a tethering point and a basis to see all of the rest of our data.

Tim Siglin: Okay. And so would you sell those services to both OVPs and content owners, or would it just be the OVPs themselves?

Diane Strutner: There are a few channels that we have to publish our software. One is through direct sales, so we would sell to broadcasters, media companies, you know, telcos, cable providers, anybody who has any type of online, OTT, or IPTV-type service. And then we can also go to market with partners as well. So, people are investigating native integrations to offer up us as the integration layer inside of a video player that they're offering to the market. There's also opportunities for us to partner with some of, maybe unusual suspects that you might not always associate with data, like the CDNs. So there's many CDNs who say, "Hey, having this end-user data is actually really critical for me to understand how I'm doing. And I can actually use this data to improve my own delivery of processes." So we're working with partners on that front as well.

Tim Siglin: Interesting. Okay, and then in the last two minutes, let's switch to Women in Streaming Media. We first met virtually on one of the SM Advanced Forum monthly webcasts that we do. And that was I think, shortly after the whole Women in Steaming Media concept had come about. I think I heard data yesterday when you and Alicia were standing onstage at the content delivery summit, that it's 500-and-some-odd women, was that correct?

Diane Strutner: Yes, that's correct. So we've aggregated over 500 women in our LinkedIn group for Women in Streaming Media, which is kind of an invite/accept process. We're in the process right now of really understanding what our user base wants. So to give you some history, the idea for this organization came together just about one year ago, and then we had our first kind of inaugural meetup, "But First Coffee," at IBC this year and attracted a great crowd of women to come to the event and we invited some men from the industry to also mingle, and network with our ladies. And what we've been focused on now is really trying to understand who is in our group and what do people want from this group? Networking is a big part of it. We have a huge program that we're trying to run right now that does mentorship. So we're taking interest in who wants to be a mentor, who would like to be mentored, what are some of the areas putting together this program structure? And again, on a high level, what we're trying to do with Women in Streaming Media is to really, you know, bring more diversity to this new media space, empower women, and grow them professionally in this area, attract new women to this space. So, we're hoping to start with this mentorship program and hopefully this later on expands into internship-type programs and other programs that can attract more talent.

Tim Siglin: And how can the men in the industry--which, obviously, has been a fairly heavily male-dominated industry-- how can they help with mentorship, or what other roles can they play?

Diane Strutner: I think that one of the best things that we can do are just have these types of conversations. If you're a man and you work with women, then, first of all, invite them to join our group. That'd be great. But second of all, a lot of it comes down to ask them the questions, like, "Hey, you know, how do you feel working at this company and what is your sense of participation in critical decisions? And how do you feel, what are things you want to work on?" And I think kind of opening up the dialogue would create a safe space for people to talk about these different types of things.

Tim Siglin: And it's interesting to hear that this started about a year ago because I've been in the industry now 21 years, and before that was in nonlinear and motion picture production, and I remember multiple times where I would work with a client who was female in a managerial role. I'd work with them on a project, it'd go really well, and a couple of months later, I'd get a call or an email saying, "Hey, I'm leaving the industry because there's nobody else in the industry in my executive level." And a couple of them, I was like, "Please stay, 'cause if you stay, then we get critical mass." But it seems like it's taken us a very long time to get to this point, but I'm really happy to hear that you're getting traction.

Diane Strutner: One of the internal issues that we have is to get more data about where we are, so we can track our progress as an organization and the impact we've had. One of the projects we're working on is actually looking at the top, you know, 50 companies in the streaming media space, and what's the composition of their executive teams and their leadership at these companies? And I won't be surprised if the data's shocking. I think actually we know the data will be shocking, but you know, to record it--

Tim Siglin: But you want it to be data as opposed to just gut-feel.

Diane Strutner: Exactly. Why not have the data on it? So I think that's one thing. Also, I think there are women who need more opportunities to be promoted and a part of that is having more visibility. Since forming this group, we've actually received a fair amount of messages internally from women who tell us stories about not getting the same opportunities. And so there are some hard questions we're going to have to empower our membership to address as well.

Tim Siglin: It's interesting, I work in India quite a bit, and there the education level of the engineers, male and female is very consistent. And it seems that there are a number of opportunities for women engineers, in a region of the world where you wouldn't think that necessarily would be true. But, even some of the Women in Streaming Media engineers that I met who are from India, are just some of the sharpest people that I've talked to. I love having those interviews because I learn so much in those conversations.

Diane Strutner: I think part of it is because the entry point for women in STEM in general--Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics--is at a really young age. And there's an interesting stat that's really hit me and I think about often, which is that, when girls reach the age of 13, 14, where young boys actually grow with their own confidence level, women, or young girls confidence levels drop by 3x.

Tim Siglin: Oh, wow.

Diane Strutner: This is the time when they're deciding to go into spaces that are traditionally a little more male-dominated. So I think we're already seeing from that level, less women going to the space in comparison to a country like India, where, you know, STEM is actually something that's very well-respected and very much encouraged. So I'm not totally surprised to see that. Another part of it regards how engineers in other countries are perceived. Not everyone faces the same challenges of being in a room and having to participate in the same way. I think a lot of the action actually goes on online. And from some perspectives it evens the communication and playing fields.

Tim Siglin: And that may even be a mentorship model that some who come from those cultures could help, you know, here in the States as well.

Diane Strutner: For sure.

Tim Siglin: All right, well I said the last two minutes, but I think we took like five minutes just on that topic. Diane, thank you again for being part of our interview today and we will see you all tomorrow morning, bright and early.

Diane Strutner: Thanks so much for having me.

- No problem.

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