British Sky Broadcasting Group plc (BSkyB; trading as Sky) is a British satellite broadcasting, broadband and telephone services company headquartered in London, with operations in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Formed in 1990 by the equal merger of Sky Television and British Satellite Broadcasting, BSkyB is the largest pay-TV broadcaster in Britain and Ireland with over 10 million subscribers.

BSkyB is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index. It had a market capitalisation of approximately £11.47 billion as of 20 June 2012 on the London Stock Exchange. News Corporation owns a 39.14% controlling stake in the company.

IT leader: Didier Lebrat, Chief Technology Officer.

In role since: I joined Sky in December 2006 as Chief Technology Officer. In this role, I lead the technical strategy, development and operations for broadcast, IT, internet and network platforms. Before joining Sky, I was Chief Technology Officer at Vodafone Italy, and before that CTO at Orange UK.

Reporting line: Report directly to BSkyB’s Chief Executive Officer, Jeremy Darroch.

Board level seat: Member of Sky’s executive team but do not sit on the Board of Directors.

Level of the workforce that relies on technology to carry out their tasks: Technology is at the heart of what we do. Almost everyone at Sky relies on technology. Whether it’s our engineers using Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) to help manage customer installations, design professionals using the latest creative applications, telecommunication experts building out our broadband and Wi-Fi networks, our broadcast teams leading the way in HD and 3D TV, customer service advisors using CRM software and many more examples besides, the scope and scale of Sky’s engagement with technology is constantly evolving.

IT staff currently employed: There are approximately 1,800 in-house IT staff currently at BSkyB.

Split between in-house/outsourced staff: Supported by a further 1200 third-party contractors.

IT management team and reporting structure: There are multiple interfaces between IT and its stakeholders at every level of Sky’s business. This framework ensures a culture of constant communication, allowing us to work in an agile and intuitive fashion to ensure that the business is innovative, responsive and appropriately supported.

The IT management team is made up of the following business unit leaders:

  • Director of Customer Information Systems – responsible for Consumer and B2B CRM systems, online and interactive content & products, workplace technology and the shared IT infrastructure.
  • Director of Broadcast Services – responsible for Sky’s broadcast infrastructure, which supports content capture, production, post production and distribution.
  • Director of Sky Network Services – responsible for the broadband & telephony network, provisioning systems and the corporate network.
  • Director of Business Integration and Solutions – responsible for the delivery of large cross functional programmes and the management of corporate, business intelligence and air time sales systems.
  • Director of Central Services – responsible for Technology procurement, IS security and strategy.

Strategic aim of the CIO and IT operation for the next financial year: The strategic aim of Sky’s IT operations is to deliver immediate business requirements in as timely and efficient manner as possible, while proactively anticipating, and planning for, the technological needs of the future.

Technologies being considered to enable transformation: We recently acquired The Cloud, one of Europe’s leading public access Wi-Fi networks, and Sky is also a part of the Cambridge TV White Spaces Consortium’s trials of ‘super Wi-Fi’. Wireless connectivity is a key focus for us as we continue to deliver content services, such as Sky Go, to smartphones, tablet computers and other portable devices. For entertainment companies like Sky, the coming together of innovative new distribution technologies with our content is something that is really allowing us to create products and services that delight our customers.

We’re also particularly interested in the technologies underpinning social networking, both in terms of customer interactions as well as using it to facilitate collaboration and communication within our business.

And of course our business continues to innovate on the core hybrid infrastructure that we use to deliver content into our customers’ homes. We combine the best of satellite distribution, IP connectivity and local storage in the form of Sky+. All brought together through the Sky+ HD box, this allows us to deliver the best of high bandwidth services like HD and 3D TV, interactivity and video on demand over Sky Broadband and  total customer control through Sky+. And of course we develop and manufacture our set-top boxes within Sky, which allows us to create hardware solutions that deliver the richest home entertainment experience.

Information Technology will continue to both maintain our operational efficiency and at the same time play an integral role in delivering an ever-increasing range of products and services for Sky customers. Our focus on technology also means that we’re constantly developing new ways to increase the value offering of a Sky subscription.