Vista releases new software three times a year. What’s the strategy behind this release framework?
Our release cadence came about directly from working with our customers, trying to strike the balance between sending out functionality with regular frequency, but not so often that there were constant versions to upgrade.
We settled on the current 3 times a year; one release every four months, typically in February, August, and November. We took the big release windows in a normal calendar year into account with this. Since big blockbusters typically come out in the November timeframe, cinemas wouldn’t upgrade during November, December, and January, and again coming into the North Hemisphere’s summer.
So, by having a release in November, we give cinemas the luxury to test releases during that big blockbuster period before finalizing upgrades. We’re very conscious that cinemas rely on a release schedule and want to ensure we deliver that.
How do ideas get prioritized and built into a new Vista version? What puts a piece of functionality into the goal of a particular release?
Ultimately, it’s market lead. There are customer-driven developments, which are customers wanting specific enhancements or products. And there are Vista initiatives, which are driven by large market trends and feedback, of a whole lot of people saying they need something or are interested in something, then we recognize that need, define the best solution to address it, and build it. Subscriptions and Horizon are great examples of that latter kind of development.
In the end, both methods come from us listening to our customers, listening to their feedback and their desires, and then taking that and building the right tool for the job.
We talk to our customers constantly. Listening to them and their feedback is one of the most valuable elements of developing our product strategy, and that’s what shapes our goals, because our product strategy is about answering our customers’ needs. There’s a lot more to product strategy than the myth of dreaming up the next greatest idea that will make clients say “I never knew I needed this, but I want it! Can I buy it now?” That’s not really how it works.
More likely, they’ll see a product or new piece of functionality knowing that it’s exactly what they need, because they’ve been saying they want it.
Given the market situation in 2020, no release was going to be ordinary. How has the market situation impacted the content of 5.0.8?
We’ve developed all kinds of improvements this year. We’ve built solutions to help cinemas adapt to the new world, as well as features to make daily operations faster and easier: Cinema Manager has lots of new enhancements; we’ve integrated Film Manager and MovieXchange, we’ve developed new integrations as part of our ScreenPlus partnership for VOD…
But the biggest impact was the work we did for the Cinema Reopening Kit. It meant we pivoted a lot of our resources to solving some specific problems that cinemas were going through because of Covid. In a big difference from previous releases, not only did we put those solutions into 5.0.8, but we also pushed a great deal of that functionality into previous releases in order to ensure cinemas could access it as easily as possible.
That’s something we normally don’t do, but given the situation it made sense. Managing two significant projects – the Cinema Reopening Kit and the 5.0.8 Release – was challenging, but the two naturally grew together.
A bit like I said earlier, it’s listening to customers’ needs that drives what we build. So naturally, a lot of what cinemas need right now are the solutions we developed in the Cinema Reopening Kit. The fact that cinemas need a real partner like Vista to provide them with solutions that allow them to operate in a different world and ensure safe cinema experiences right now was a guiding principle through this release and the Cinema Reopening Kit.
So the Cinema Reopening Kit and 5.0.8 have been quite influential on one another. What stands out to you as something you’re proud of from the projects? Where Vista went above and beyond?
One of the big challenges throughout that time period was the Social Distance Seating. We knew we had to create something to solve seating, and so even as we were creating the very first iteration of it and figuring out what it could be, we threw so many great minds on it that we surprised ourselves with just how far we could take it. By the time we created the first version, we were already thinking “okay, how do we take it a step further from there? And a step further again?”
And we eventually got to what I would now consider the Rolls Royce version of Social Distance Seating. When we first looked at it, that seemed impossible – it just didn’t seem like something that could be done!
But the more we worked on it the more we enhanced the feature, the more we built up capabilities. And even now, we’ll have customers mention they want something that requires some additional sophistication for it, and that’s what really drives it again. The customers, and servicing what they need.
So that was definitely a massive success for us in the period of 5.0.8.
To learn more about Vista's latest release, 5.0.8, see our full release overview, and don't hesitate to reach out to your Vista Account Manager to ask how 5.0.8 can work for you!