Spring has finally come to Beijing. I can’t tell you how much I looked forward to the feeling of warm sunlight on my face, the happy sound of children playing, and – at last – being able to live my life normally.
I love to go for a run outside. It’s a great start to the day. But for what seems like a long time now, these completely normal things have not been normal at all.
The Chinese Lunar New Year is a huge event, especially for families, who often travel thousands of miles to be with each other. It’s a country-wide celebration, and probably the biggest movement of the Chinese population each year. So a contagious outbreak like COVID-19 at this particular time, is the worst possible thing that could have happened.
Three days after the outbreak was identified, Wuhan was locked down. Wuhan is more than 1,000 KM from Beijing, but we felt the impact instantly. Within days we were advised not to go out and meet friends, family or colleagues.
That was January 26th.
Thanks to modern technology, I did not have to change too much to connect with my friends and family and work from my home. Life could continue by using the internet and the cloud.
I work for EditShare, a technology company in the Media and Entertainment business. EditShare is headquartered in the USA, with offices in the UK and all over the world including one in Beijing. So, we have a practice of staying close through video and audio conference calls as well as other forms of digital collaboration. Utilizing those tools also helps me be productive in China where our customers are spread over vast distances and we can’t always meet in person.
Over the last decade there’s been what can only be described as a revolution in production. It used to be that because of the huge files, the low bandwidth and the massive computing power needed, the only way to work was onsite at the production or broadcast facility.
But now, that’s changed completely. In fact, the whole production and post-production process – logging, editing, transcoding, delivering – is moving into the cloud, with total automation to simplify the workflow. The cloud isn’t “anywhere,” but at the same time it’s everywhere.
So working at home or remotely is as rich and creative an experience as being in a dedicated facility. And thankfully, my company has set up its own internal business processes to enable the same experiences.
During the shutdown, I was able to work closely with our local channel partner ThinkTone (XinTong) Technology on ways to stay connected to our customers and continue our business activities. We shared best practice information and offered online presentations on how to use the EditShare remote production technology. Our ability to continue collaborating helped our customers.
As an example, we successfully continued to work on a major customer project. The customer is a Chinese conglomerate and one of the world’s top five technology companies. It has multiple divisions with quite separate functions. The two divisions we worked with are – video and cloud.
The video division had a major new reality series planned for release in the first half of 2020. The team wanted to be able to distribute the video from the production to all of the many stakeholders for review – without having to be in the same room, building or even city. It was agreed that we would run EditShare software directly on cloud division infrastructure to accomplish this.
The team began the testing of EditShare Flow and EFS running on the cloud at the beginning of 2020 – while we were on lockdown. We held weekly meetings to update the information between each of the interested parties. At times these meetings had up to twenty people across three continents.
We were able to do this during the lockdown because everyone was able to work remotely – that’s the beauty of the cloud, and I guess it’s the way forward for all of us.
I was shut inside for nearly two months. I learned to adapt to the current situation, as my business like many others, must move forward during the crisis. And while there have been inconveniences, I am more efficient than ever and better prepared for the unexpected. And the next time a crisis happens, there will be no reason for everything to stop. Because of cloud technology, working at home is now just “working.”
In China, we have a saying that inspired us during this challenging time: “winter will be over and the spring will come.” Thank you for reading this. I wish everyone, wherever they are in the world, to stay safe, and I hope spring comes soon to you, too.