Last month, CTS brought together some key technology thought leaders in the media space for an evening of conversation and wonderful food. These exchanges sparked great insights about trends and where the industry is going. Here are my key takeaways from the evening:
How do we get quality content into the hands of the customer at the right time?
Sinead Greenaway (UKTV’s CIO) shared, on a recent webinar, a phrase that resonated around the table, even with everyone’s differing priorities: “right tech at the right time”. Whilst Cait O’Riordan from the FT concurred when she wrote: “if you're not measuring engagement levels when it comes to renewals, and if your subscribers see no value, they'll unsubscribe. The FT, through a strong data science department, understands what metrics we need to drive to reduce that churn.”
One of the current objectives some participants shared is moving away from legacy on-premise environments and shifting towards cloud providers like Google. This gives organisations more flexibility to spin up resources when it comes to creating content or analysing its performance.
For one of them, this drive is aiming to enable their business to provision Infrastructure as Code using tools like Terraform. Others are focussing on enabling as much SaaS or open API tools as possible as it “gives them a quiet life”. In this case, the biggest concern becomes the actual users and how they utilise the technology, rather than the technology itself. This is a key point we have found at CTS, where some of our most successful recent projects put people first, leaving the technology as the enabler.
Everyone around the table agreed that producing quality content is crucial to success in the increasingly dynamic and competitive media environment. Even though the technology is often not central to that content, it remains an essential part, especially as it can aid the drive to…
Efficiency, efficiency, efficiency
This has been the biggest driver in most of our media projects in the last 12 months and, from the sounds of our discussion, it’s not going to slow down.
As the industry continues to evolve, with consumers having more choices on how and where they get their content, margins are being squeezed, so anything that drives efficiency is positive for the business. We talked around how “in order to transform, you have to cause some pain” and organisations that don’t embrace this, have every chance of being left behind in such a dynamic environment.
Another key driver is the desire to be as platform-agnostic as possible, which is why many of the organisations look at Google with their open API’s and interoperability with other platforms. One of the participants mentioned reshaping their operations team to be more than just engineers. This way they can empower them with business skills, which adds value back to the organisation. With that aim, the business can enable interoperability and “ensure technology is easier to provision and easier to consume”.
Subsequently, we discussed how IT is becoming more centralised with the rise of the cloud and the aforementioned SaaS, open API products. This means participants are looking to provide the same experience across all employees, understanding that different members of the business move at different speeds. This is something we really encourage here at CTS and it’s one of the reasons we are Google’s Cloud Partner of the year, thanks to our awesome Change Management team.
Finally, on the topic of efficiency, it was mentioned that “a lot of people are screaming for data” internally and it’s part of ITs role to get that data to users to enable better decisions, alongside ensuring all this data is secure as it goes around the world. Which leads us nicely onto...
Minimising risk through technology
A tough subject to discuss over dinner for sure. We started by talking about how deploying secure tools like G Suite, Okta and GCP can aid in achieving this. In fact, Nelson from Google shared that security was a key focus across the whole organisation, and that areas like multi regional capabilities within Google Cloud Platform should help customers further with this.
There is a “huge focus on risk” and risk mitigation in the industry. Monitoring is becoming more important as media organisations start to hold sensitive personal data, which wasn’t required with more traditional mediums five years ago. Therefore, risk is now more central to their day jobs, with a focus on ensuring that both users and teams supporting them avoid “bad practices, that can lead to technical debt”. It’s appreciated that these changes may take time but shouldn’t stop the mission “to say we are fully secure”.
One participant went as far as saying that “creating a playbook for technology is key” across their organisation. Whilst another mentioned their focus was on “doing the right thing as well as the legal thing”, since they don’t want to be on the front page for the wrong reasons. This is a solid reminder that everything comes back to how the consumer views you as a brand and that the technology companies use will affect that.
Finally, to close the evening, we talked about sustainability, and whether it should be the CTO’s role to keep this in mind.
This is a new requirement from media organisations and it’s growing in importance because of the climate change groundswell. Real praise was held here for the Google Cloud team who have focussed their data centers to be carbon neutral, which is much better than other cloud providers. Although sustainability is not a key driver for all parties yet, we expect this to continue to grow in importance and to play a part in future decisions.
Looking to the future
Overall, the evening was filled with fantastic conversations. It was a wonderful opportunity to get together with key industry leaders in the media space to discuss challenges, objectives and where the industry is going.
A big thank you to everyone that joined us on this occasion. This couldn’t have happened without their transparency and invaluable insights.