Looking back on London Tech Week, it is very clear that almost every business in the UK economy is deeply affected by technology which creates significant opportunities as well as challenges.
The media and entertainment industry has seen tremendous change with technology disrupting the way programs are distributed and decades of entrenched ways of doing things. Technology has put smart TVs at the center of this content explosion and driven changes in consumer behavior where viewers can choose when they watch. This has also led to the ability to deliver advertising in a very targeted manner.
Consumers have benefited immensely from the wide choice of programs now available to them.
But this change has meant that a business model, established for so long, has had to shift and adapt and adopt new models to bring programs to viewers and engage them as competition for audiences has intensified.
In response to this tsunami of technology-driven change, ITV launched its More Than TV strategy in 2018 with digital transformation at its core. With a digital foundation now firmly in place and new features being brought to ITV, we recently announced a further change in this strategy – the launch of a new free streaming service, ITVX.
Coinciding with Tech Week, we’ve announced further details on ITVX set to launch later this year with over 9,000 hours of new series, cult classics, documentaries and movies to choose from. There will be a new content drop each week that will be exclusive to the service.
Boost streaming is just one element of our involvement in the tech ecosphere – data and analytics now underpin every aspect of ITV’s strategy.
The second axis of real transformation lies in our offer to advertisers and commercial partners.
Over the past 18 months, we’ve deployed Planet V – our proprietary programmatic platform for premium video advertising. It is now working at scale and has become the second UK operator in this space behind Google.
It helps explain why ITV brought nearly a hundred new advertisers to television for the first time last year – the majority of which are digital brands.
The third area that is leveraging technology to become more efficient and productive is our global production business – ITV Studios.
It has doubled its sales to fast-growing streamers and is currently planning to move the entire content management lifecycle to the cloud, from publishing and distribution to access and storage.
And of course, the way we work is also changing – with data further informing our decisions across our business, particularly about how we understand viewers, what products and programs we offer them, and how we reach out and engage them.
We have established a data and analytics center of excellence and have invested in our cloud-based capabilities through ITV.
As many organizations know, the demand for people with technology, data and insight skills is driving the market.
In fact, the pressure on companies to improve their recruitment in this area is such that several members of ITV’s internal technology recruitment team have themselves been poached by competing companies.
It is in this context that we welcome the publication of the government’s new UK digital strategy during London Tech Week.
The government’s strategy is a good start, but we need the UK education sector at all levels to move towards these skills.
The launch of a Digital Skills Council to bring business together with government and education to ensure these skills are available seems like a valuable starting point and ITV is happy to contribute and be a part of this, because without these skills, the transformation of UK businesses slows dramatically and Britain’s very difficult goal of increasing productivity is set back even further.
I would like the Council to really focus on how to increase diversity within the tech industry as well – there are far too few women and far too narrow a range of backgrounds.
Research also shows that even relatively young people mistakenly believe they are too old to pursue a career in technology.
We need more role models that a wider range of people can relate to and the government must continue to fund reskilling and upskilling to encourage businesses to do this at scale and provide new entrants with a path to the roles that companies like ITV are already creating. .
Otherwise, how could UK companies compete in the talent market?
It is clear from ITV’s experience that the employer brand, purpose and values help drive recruitment.
We have found it essential that we are seen to be living our purpose.
People expect the organization they work for to have a purpose beyond profit and to share their values.
They want the company they join to be relevant and relevant to employees, open to their questions and feedback. We’ve also found that many are looking for flexible working – and this is especially true when recruiting millennials.
They are just as likely to ask about a company’s gender pay gap or climate action strategy as they are about its benefits plan.
Those who join ITV talk about our mental health work like Britain Get Talking – the country’s most recognized mental health campaign – and our work on diversity and inclusion both on and off screen.
They tell us they care about us too because we continue to reflect and shape culture and society with entertainment shows like Love Island, I’m A Celebrity and The Masked Singer, dramas like Trigger Point and The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe and of course our award-winning news and current affairs programs.
And it’s not just recruiting.
We know that it is at least as important to develop and retain talent and to provide professional training for all.
We also have a range of different mentoring and coaching programs for our employees at different levels, as we know they improve performance and retain talent.
80% of all jobs currently advertised in the UK require digital skills.
And even more remarkably, it has been predicted that over 80% of the UK workforce in 2030 is already working today.
So we all need to upgrade the skills of our existing workforce. ITV is actively working with technology partners to expand our technical skills training.
There is no doubt that the shortage of key digital skills is a challenge, but despite this, I remain optimistic.
We are doing exciting and innovative technology work and transforming our business at a breakneck pace, which is extremely appealing to the technology community.
UK businesses can be smart, nimble and fast.
The fact that Britain produces a unicorn every 11 days shows that we have the talent and the innovation to lead this digital revolution.