In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, innovation is no longer a luxury but a necessity.
That is why, in February 2023, News UK created its very own Technology Innovation team.
As the new Director of Tech Innovation, my role is to harness emerging technologies for our media brands.
Planning on purpose
2023 has seen some outstanding enhancements that will undoubtedly change how we do tasks effectively and efficiently. So what better time to have a team with dedicated capacity looking at what they mean for us?
One of the main needs as a company was to really make sure that we look ahead and know exactly what direction of travel we should be moving in.
Although we have a very smooth-running tech department delivering for our roadmaps, like many businesses, it can sometimes be hard to find the time to look up and really think about where we might be heading over the next three to five years.
Driving more of an innovation culture and really fostering creativity is also a main objective of mine and to really start distilling this mindset across the company more widely.
The Tech Innovation team is a small, cross-functional team made up of five people, each bringing different skills to the table. I was previously Head of UX&D and Director of Global Projects, UX, leading the design team across our media brands.
Disciplines like engineering, design and research make up the bulk of the team, but we aim to be as transparent with what we’re working on and lean on other skills where needed. For example, News UK’s Data Tech team has been really valuable in our AI developments.
Happening now at @NewsUKTech. Thank you for hosting our @googledevs group chapter tonight! Our organiser @StefanoLePera is our @GDGCloud representative hosting the talks tonight! pic.twitter.com/ngUl7g2b6x
— GDG Cloud (@GDGCloud) September 27, 2022
So, what tech are we looking at, and how could they appear in News UK products? Here are three areas of interest.
No business in 2023 can overlook AI transformation. We are conducting gap analyses to better understand the current landscape and to identify opportunities. This includes a review of how AI is being utilised across News Corp, News UK, and among our competitors to highlight AI market opportunities for the business.
Some interesting areas we have started to look at are efficiencies within our customer services, insight and reporting, and internal workflows, considering how we can make them more sophisticated, personalised and dynamic.
The team is exploring concepts for these areas and are building proofs-of-concept to understand the impact they may have on productivity across the business.
Synthetic speech has made huge advances in recent years. Could it play a part in our brands?
We are running multiple rounds of testing looking to understand subscribers’ preference with both AI and human voice options, to feed into the overall experience. We have analysed the research. This has outlined the wants and needs of our users, which will now feed into understanding what tools we could use.
We have also started running some A/B experiments to see how text-to-speech performs in the real world, giving us more insight on usage, findability, frequency. All of this will help inform us on what direction we should move forward with for each of our titles.
Web 3.0 brings the dawn of the ownership economy, allowing consumers to invest in content and own their data, for creators to own their IP and have a greater share of the revenues earned. Additionally, it means publishers could protect their content and forge a closer value exchange with consumers.
We’re starting to explore this technology and better understand how we can leverage it and set the agenda for future consumption on this platform.
Experimentation Analyst, Sabine Kejlova, has written a brilliant @Medium piece on how experimentation at @NewsUK differs from other businesses.https://t.co/6OCpecR5p4#newsuktech #experiementation #productdevelopment #customervalue
— News UK Technology (@NewsUKTech) February 2, 2022
Since starting in this role, we have been recruiting the team and onboarding, spending time working through our vision as a team, objectives and how we work within the company.
We have also been doing a lot of internal PR, to get everyone in the business aware of the new team and how to engage with us. That has led to ideas and briefs coming to us, so we are now in full swing of experimenting with ideas and driving some new developments forward.
A big initiative for us is to ensure we’re moving and succeeding quickly - or, in tech industry parlance, “failing fast”, bringing this culture into the team and hoping the culture trickles through to other teams around the business.
A big aim for us is to be as transparent as possible, allowing people to feed in ideas, give feedback on work, hear how our ideas are progressing and learn from our frameworks and ways of working.
The team's main focus now is to push forward with our briefs, ensuring we’re concepting broadly to get a full suite of ideas, showing value from our learnings. Where something shows it could have a positive impact, we will implement and operationalise throughout the business.
The team is also looking at continuing to push its presence at News UK and help embed more of an innovative culture. We plan on doing this by having more and wider-spread events, open to all departments to take part in and help feed our inspiration.
By having this team, I truly believe we can enhance our competitiveness and stay ahead by creating new products, services and models, improving efficiency and productivity across the business and foster a culture of innovation and collaboration.