The Guardian News & Media is the core business of the Guardian Media Group and publisher of newspapers The Guardian, The Observer and The Guardian website. The group is owned by media organisation Scott Trust.
The Guardian describes itself as a ‘digital first’ publisher with a focus primarily on digital rather than print products. The Observer is Britain’s oldest newspaper, with the first issue being published over 200 years ago. The group employs around 2,500 people and suffered losses of around £33 million in 2011. Some of the Guardian News & Media most successful breaking stories are their investigation into phone hacking at other newspapers and their collaboration with WikiLeaks.
Andy Beale has been technology director for Guardian News and Media for over 16 years and has seen it go through multiple transformations in order to adjust to trends in how people access their news. He has overseen the adoption of Google apps Premiere edition.
IT leader: Andy Beale, Technology Director.
In role since: Guardian Technology Director from October 2007 until September 2012.
Reporting line: Executive Director.
How often does the CIO meet with the CEO: Approximately quarterly.
Board level seat: Part of the GMG Leadership group - the 50 most important managers in the organisation, and sat on the GNM Commercial Directors group while in operation for two years. I do not have a board director position.
IT budget: Approximately £7.5 million opex with a further £3 million capex per annum. Consumer facing, digital budgets are in addition to this. IT operational spend compared to company turnover as a percentage is 3.75%.
IT estate and or number of log on accounts under the control of the IT leader: Approximately 2,500 users.
Level of the workforce that relies on technology to carry out their tasks: 100%.
IT staff currently employed: 47 in Technology. There are further staff in the Digital Development function.
Split between in-house/outsourced staff: 47 internal staff to approximately 20 outsourced staff
IT management team and reporting structure: Six direct reports:
- Head of Enterprise Systems.
- Technology Customer Managers (x3).
- Services Manager.
- Supplier Manager.
Primary technology platforms at the organisation: Our core systems are focused on content and revenue. Content production and publishing systems are custom built or integrated from a range of standard platforms - Adobe, Oracle DB, Solr, MongoDB. Our lead generation and sales platform is SalesForce.com and Operative.One. Collaboration and Productivity tool is Google Apps. And we use Oracle for ERP.
Primary technology suppliers: Smaller open source suppliers play and increasingly larger role in our technology supply chain. Alongside larger vendors such as SalesForce.com, Google, Oracle, Adobe, NetApp and Cisco
Significant strategic technology deals struck in the last 12 months: We have signed a significant contract with Cisco to move all non-cloud based compute capacity to its UCS server platform.
Percentage of your applications/infrastructure run from the cloud: Applications percentage is approximately 47% (by annual spend), infrastructure is approximately 10%.
Major technology or transformation project recently completed and how did it transform operations, customer experience or the organisation: GNM's Global CRM system went live in January 2012, delivering significant revenue and cost benefits across our commercial operations. The system comprises a state of the art customer database, analytics tools, email marketing and campaign management solution, all of which are fully integrated into our front line systems such as site registration and stats.
The 3.3 million people on the database are many of our most engaged readers and users, and through the system we will understand them in much greater detail than before. This understanding is driving revenue growth of circa £1 million per annum in advertising, consumer offers and our B2B professional networks.
Did the above project reach its cost, timing and transformation objective: The above project took 12 months to complete and was successfully led by the technology team to deliver its benefits case on time and on budget.
Business transformation programme – beyond technology – that the CIO owns or is a major contributor to: Better Ways of Working: The Guardian's workplace is critical to our success as a digital business, I am at the forefront of a current initiative to go even further with workplace flexibility, and the supporting technology. This programme will only work if HR, Facilities, Business Managers and IT work in concert. As well as being responsible for delivering that supporting technology, my role and that of the department needs to be to model the flexibility we are looking for from the organisation. And to support those other stakeholder groups as they consider the organisational changes as much as the technological changes.
Throughout my career at the Guardian I have been at the heart of the constant change we have gone through. No business process or objective is untouched by technology and as such my role has been to make sure the Technology Department is enabling the Guardian to reach its goals through the better use of IT.
Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: Continue to drive revenue through deeper understanding of our audience.
Strategy in the use by employees of their own technology, use of mobiles and how social networking is impacting operations, customer experiences or the organisation: I have led the adoption of consumer IT at the Guardian, culminating in an innovative scheme to assist employees buying their own iPads to use both at home and at work. This was a vital step in bringing our "digital first" strategy to life for our employees, and has benefited the organisation in terms of consumer facing innovation and internal productivity.
Strategy for dealing with shadow IT and BYOD including influence and engagement with executives, to place the right controls around employee choice: I believe the future of enterprise IT is distributed and open within organisations, so try and focus on a business units desired outcome rather than ownership and control issues around IT provision. I am an internal advocate of a data-centric approach to security controls, which will allow these more flexible IT models.
Technologies being considered to enable transformation: The broad categories of mobile and social remain the two key technologies which will impact organisations and their consumers or stakeholders. For example adding "social sign-in" through Facebook to guardian.co.uk yielded an almost instant uplift in advertising revenue due to the richer user data we can provide our commercial clients.
Transformational inspiration sources: The digital and agile communities, whether in established brands, the public sector or start-ups.