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View from the Top 2021: Innovating to Make a Difference

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Outside of health care and education—two sectors that are public and not corporate in most parts of the world, but that's another topic—no market has undergone as much transformation in the past 18 months as streaming media. When the pandemic shut down schools, doctor's offices, retail, and concert and sports venues, video stepped in to keep teaching, patient care, business, and entertainment going. 

All of the companies in this year's Streaming Media 50 rose to that challenge. As others have written, 2020-2021 was the year that streaming video providers were put to the test, in a world where "virtual" became a synonym for "video," and video was often the only game in town. Live concert streams and online conference feeds were no longer secondary to "the real thing"—the were the real thing. And that changed the way we think about everything. The world we live in is more fragile than ever, and while video can never take the place of human contact, either intentional or serendipitous, it can bring us together when external circumstances keep us apart. 

And while only a few of the entries in this year's View from the Top reference the pandemic directly, it's an undercurrent in each one of these executives' articles. While streaming video may not typically be a matter of life or death (though it can save lives, to be sure), there's an urgency in these writings that I've never seen before. A good executive puts people before profits, and the best executives understand that the two are inseparable. The executives who wrote these articles get it, and they know that it's true for both the people inside their organizations and the people who are their customers.

On its own, technological innovation is meaningless. After all, just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should. Personalized advertising, low latency delivery, simplified OTT workflows, video quality metrics, content protection—all of these technologies serve people in different ways, but all of them make a real difference. The thirteen companies in View from the Top 2021 are prime examples of purposeful, meaningful innovation that improves people's lives. I urge you to take a look at all of these articles, and maybe don't start with the biggest company first. Each one of them has something valuable to say. 

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