Rick Bolin, who will become chief executive of the International Association of Broadcasting Manufacturers (IABM) in April, is the man charged with helping manage the increasingly complex relationship between broadcast technology suppliers and their customers.
The UK-based body is playing an essential role as the industry moves towards IT-based systems, according to former Channel 4 chief engineer and ex Panasonic Europe managing director Chris Daubney.
“For a trade body to work, it needs a dynamic leader. Rick is not only dynamic but brings the international element to the body. In addition he ran a software company and so has hands on experience,” he says.
From an entrepreneurial background, Bolin founded telecoms company FBBT in Denver in 2002 before travelling to Europe in search of funding in 2004. After attending the second IABM annual conference at Wokefield Park in Berkshire last year he says he was blown away by the organisation. “It is first class in terms of the organisation, structure and discipline.”
The IABM represents 250 broadcast companies, including industry giants such as Sony and Panasonic and big players Quantel, Red Bee, Avid and Apple.
Bolin will replace Roger Crumpton, who becomes director and company secretary working three days a week. “Roger and I talk all the time. He is from an industry organisation background, I’m from a start-up background. Roger’s built the Formula 1 race car and now it’s time to push it onto the track.”
The 30-year-old organisation, which provides a voice for broadcast technology suppliers, has become increasingly important over the past 10 years with the globalisation of the industry and the proliferation of issues that require collective representation.
It grew 20% last year and received four new applications for membership just last week, and now represents 80% of the value generated by the industry.
Bolin explains that broadly the organisation addresses three member requirements: advocacy; knowledge transfer (offering regional and market sector reports); and executive networking.
The IABM works to help companies deal with regulatory and legislative requirements in different territories - for example, it helps members navigate the international Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) registration as well as that for restrictions on hazardous substances.
It also mediates where its members have different interests. Grass Valley recently dropped its case against JVC, Sony and Panasonic on the dumping of cheap cameras on European markets. Bolin said: “The IABM may have had something to do with that, but our success is largely a result of our discretion.”
The IABM generates quarterly reports on the trends within the industry as well as one-off reports, such as last year’s analysis on the factors for successfully entering the Indian market.
A similar report on China will be released on 19 October. Before entering these markets, smaller technology suppliers need to understand their dynamics.
Other territories Bolin and Crumpton believe are of interest include Russia and South America, both difficult for UK companies to enter but potentially lucrative. He says: “Members are also interested in new platform opportunities and where broadcasters are spending money.”
A global study commissioned by the IABM found that the two fastest growing areas are service (in which broadcasters outsource technology management, such as the deal between BBC Technology and Siemens), and digital rights and digital asset management. These areas are growing more than 20% a year as opposed to the average market growth of 11%.
Bolin is genuinely excited about the industry and says although technology suppliers need help navigating the new broadcasting landscape, a multiplatform environment is “absolutely an opportunity”.
He adds: “The underlying fundamental of any market is whether the industry has a product people desire [media content]. I can honestly say this fundamental has never been more secure.”