By Mark Stanborough, Sales Manager, EMEA & APAC at Cabletime
Banks, dealing rooms, trading floors, or even financial data companies must have real-time access to market information. It can facilitate a timely investment, motivate or inform teams or make the difference between a profitable trade or a loss.
The ability to track stocks and shares and see price changes as they happen, and to monitor market news and major headlines coming through from news aggregators, supports dynamic decision making and enables opportunities to be grasped quickly. Without access to this information, finance professionals are unable to calculate risk, keep ahead of the game or ask vital questions.
To source this intelligence, banks and dealing rooms use dedicated news and finance information services combined with IPTV solutions that can stream content and data live across their networks. Increasingly, however, IPTV is also helping financial companies to communicate throughout their entire organisations, often between multiple locations and overseas, to improve internal engagement and motivation, deliver superior training content and to broadcast company-wide presentations and briefings.
Because of the critical nature of its work, the finance sector is particularly exacting when it comes to the reliability of live TV and video, demanding superior, low latency streams and solid-state solutions. High quality IPTV systems can meet these demands, but only if the underlying technology has been carefully specified and installed and is designed to manage the pressures that a sophisticated video communications deployment will place on it.
The first question that any financial organisation will need to answer is whether their network infrastructure can cope with IPTV. It needs to be capable of sustaining bandwidth-intense, high availability transport streams, not just across local area networks but in some cases across wide area networks too. To ensure the highest quality of video stream, which suffers no interruption or picture break-up means that the network has to be sturdy – capable of transmitting speeds of 100Mbps, for example.
Without wishing to get too technical, it is also vital to ensure that network switches meet specific minimum criteria. Good planning will ensure that the elevated load that IPTV places on the network infrastructure is supported. This means ensuring the overall switch capacity exceeds the total streaming bandwidth to avoid clashing with other applications or solutions that also demand network capacity.
The component parts of an IPTV deployment are usually displays, media players and content management systems. All three need to be considered against the requirements of the company.
Display performance should be monitored so that any problems can be alerted, diagnosed and resolved. This is vital in a financial environment where each screen will be displaying essential information. Software included with the display should support encryption to ensure content is secure.
Media players will ideally select, play and control multiple different media, and it is advisable to pick players that are fit-for-purpose rather than generic technology. These will also deliver dedicated low power and maximum processing performance.
Of course, as the applications for IPTV increase, and companies look to stream live and pre-recorded content, the importance of a solid management hub becomes all the greater. A Content Management System gives administrators full control so that content can be tailored for different viewers at different times for maximum impact. This is also essential if the IPTV system is being used in multiple or off-site locations and needs to be remotely managed and controlled.
One final point on being prepared is that organisations do need to be aware of the standards that are now being applied to ensure content is protected. No company wants to find itself falling foul of the law within months of an IPTV deployment because their system no longer meets content provider regulations. Being future-proof also means using a system that can maximise content deployment and ensure the content is protected without compromising on its integrity.
How to initiate an IPTV deployment
Before even thinking about which solution might be best, finance companies and banks should consider the core technology first. Investment in IPTV can reap dividends in terms of delivering vital data and corporate communications, but this investment is at risk of a limited return if attention is not paid to the core technology and to the systems integrator who specifies and understands its implementation. One option is to work with a partner to integrate all the hardware and software elements of an IPTV system from multiple disparate sources. This could be a more inexpensive solution. The other option is to work with a partner that provides the entire solution and which promotes a vendor that designs, manufactures and supports its own hardware, training, network support and ongoing servicing.
Banks who want absolute control over the quality and capability of the technology and who want to future proof their investment should select the second of the two options. Working together with an expert integrator means that the IPTV system can be networked to any number of screens and desktops in a trading or financial environment without worrying about bandwidth or picture quality. They will also benefit from the system being able to seamlessly scale to support corporate growth, not just in one location, but across multiple sites and overseas.
The right IPTV solution ensures that traders can be confident that they are on top of the latest news and market positions, senior managers can be confident that the system is also enhancing training, messaging and engagement, whilst the finance department can rest easy that they will experience a rapid return on investment.