SES

A premier provider of satellite-delivered services for broadcasting and media distribution

SES WORLD SKIES is a premier provider of satellite-delivered services for broadcasting and media distribution including telecommunications providers, broadcasters, news agencies, educational institutions and government entities around the world. With a global footprint headquartered in The Hague, The Netherlands, US operation centers in New Jersey and Washington DC and facilities in Johannesburg, São Paulo, Singapore and Sydney, SES WORLD SKIES is uniquely positioned to deliver best of breed services on a regional level with its global fleet of satellites.

SES WORLD SKIES offers occasional use capacity on more than 25 satellites as a key area of business in meeting the growing satellite transmission requirements of its customers. With the ability to serve breaking news, sports, or special events, SES WORLD SKIES provides services ranging from a short single 15-minute feed, to bandwidth needs lasting several months.

Recently, the company upgraded the ScheduLINK transmission management and optimization software across its special events and occasional use department with the addition of BandPLAN and WebScheduler. BandPLAN, a tailored ScheduLINK module designed to manage the technical intricacies of occasional use bandwidth, is enabling SES to manage real time resource data and advanced booking tools as part of their daily operation. Using this new single system throughout its global organization, SES is able to meet customer needs quickly and proactively while optimizing its capacity usage and profitability.

Situation

Occasional use services were launched in 2000 at New Skies Satellites, the predecessor to today’s SES WORLD SKIES, after it became clear that the company’s key customers and prospects had a critical need for available satellite capacity on a short term basis in addition to the full-time services already being provided.

At first, the occasional use department at SES WORLD SKIES outsourced the bookings process in an effort to keep costs low. However, the demand for satellite capacity in bringing news events such as the Iraq war to the world in short order led the team to reevaluate bookings in-house. SES WORLD SKIES is intimate with its customers and has a unique understanding of the industry, giving them an opportunity to lead the way by offering these valuable and needed occasional-use services. The transition was dependent upon finding an off-the-shelf scheduling system that could be implemented quickly.

“Right off the shelf, ScheduLINK provided a good foundation for our bookings operations, providing an easy-to-use drag-and-drop graphical interface, an intuitive scheduling process, and rapid access to reliable data that together speed transactions from end to end.”

Analysis

During NAB 2003, the team investigated several potential solutions, exploring both off-the-shelf solutions and companies that could custom build a bookings system specifically for WORLD SKIES environment. In short order, ScheduALL’s ScheduLINK transmission management and optimization software was recognized as an industry standard capable of providing a robust platform that would support highly flexible usage parameters for each transponder and pipe. Just two short months later, ScheduALL and ScheduLINK were implemented and being used to drive greater efficiencies within the operation.

An Integrated Solution

Today, SES staff around the world use ScheduLINK’s powerful bandwidth configuration tools to leverage available capacity and meet the growing needs of its clients. Additionally, SES has provided even greater flexibility to meet client requests by leveraging ScheduALL’s WebScheduler solution which allows customers to make real-time bookings themselves via a Web browser any time they want. This provides the customer more control over their booking requirements and improves overall customer satisfaction.

“Other companies had used bookings software to manage uplinks, downlinks and staff, but the space segment is a unique resource type, requiring a unique approach,” says Samantha McCloskey, VP Global Occasional Use at SES WORLD SKIES. “We worked closely with ScheduALL to implement scheduling in more refined increments. As a result, the ScheduLINK system provides highly flexible usage parameters for each transponder and pipe, giving us a whole new level of accuracy, flexibility and profitability in leveraging channels within a given transponder.”

Operations Management

ScheduLINK helps SES WORLD SKIES to organize, analyze and monitor the booking and execution of occasional use services with a clear snapshot of available resources and connectivity. Managers have the flexibility needed to track projects individually and in groups. Special events and occasional use departments use the software’s comprehensive modules, to track operations by customer, activity and resource, demonstrating the profitability of the department and the value its capacity brings to the business as a whole. With historical data about the revenues associated with, for example, a 9-MHz channel, the company can make forward-looking business decisions based on fact rather than intuition.

“The capacity allocated to occasional use and special events is always under review, as making full-time leases available to interested customers is a priority within our overall business model,” says McCloskey. “If the only space available already is dedicated to occasional use, then it’s valuable to have a strong reporting function that provides historical data on the profit made from that channel, or the revenues lost if that channel is taken out of occasional use service. ScheduLINK allows us to make a case for internal resources, providing the data that supports the decision to release capacity from occasional use to full-time, or vice versa.”

With the ScheduLINK BandPLAN module, SES is able to intricately manage the ever-changing requirements of bandwidth scheduling by specifying the full bandwidth, customizing segmenting methods, configuring specifications and creating bandwidth patterns.

Kelly Heflin, Senior Director of Broadcast Occasional Use Services at SES WORLD SKIES, adds, “Having a system that supports our global fleet delivers a wider range of opportunities for us, while giving our customers fast access to the satellite space they require to deliver timely, competitive news reports. The ScheduLINK system is a reliable and easy-to-update database that ensures the speed and accuracy of data entry and bookings. The software addresses technical variables, such as availability restrictions, equipment requirements and required bandwidth capacity, to prevent multi-parameter conflicts, technical mismatches and double bookings – resulting in quality-assured service with significant time and cost savings.

“Right off the shelf, ScheduLINK provided a good foundation for our bookings operations, providing an easy-to-use drag-and-drop graphical interface, an intuitive scheduling process, and rapid access to reliable data that together speed transactions from end to end,” says McCloskey. “ScheduLINK’s powerful management and scheduling tools, combined with our knowledge of the fleet, made it easy to deal with customer requirements on a personal level. In our first year using ScheduLINK for in-house bookings, we doubled our bookings. Since then, our close relationship with ScheduALL has enabled us to refine and expand our use of the software to meet our changing operational and business needs.”

SES WORLD SKIES has also used ScheduALL’s Adaptive Framework module to tailor the product and adapt naming conventions, forms, requirements for different fields, and similar interface elements to suit daily operations. This ability enables the company to continue expanding the product’s use across its operations and to refine it as business rules and processes evolve. As occasional use business under the SES umbrella continues to grow, ScheduALL also offers the company the option of extending areas of the booking process out to customers and suppliers.

Financial ROI

SES WORLD SKIES operates ScheduLINK as a stand-alone system, interfacing with robust billing systems at the end of the workflow. “The reporting capabilities of ScheduLINK are brilliant, and its financial accuracy has proven invaluable to the business,” says McCloskey. “In the beginning, we ran Excel alongside ScheduLINK to make sure the financials were correct. We were soon able to drop the parallel reporting as we found no discrepancies that were due to a flaw in the system.”

The system’s reporting capabilities allow McCloskey and others to look back and see – via graphs and detailed summaries – how well the business has performed according to historical and projected targets. With this information, staff can analyze operations according to date, resource and activity thereby making the most effective and profitable business decisions.

Conclusion

SES uses ScheduLINK, Adaptive Framework and Interoperability toolsets as a powerful solution to fully exploit its occasional use satellite capacity and recognize maximum profitability in booking and scheduling. The BandPLAN module has enabled SES to advance their occasional use business allowing a wide array of intuitive, tightly integrated tools that facilitate the packaging and provision of the best technical solutions for customers involved in broadcast and media distribution, including a self service option via ScheduALL’s WebScheduler. ScheduALL will continue to be leveraged to assist SES growth, client satisfaction and deliver even greater efficiencies across the organization for many years to come.

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