News UK Chief Technology Officer - and Deputy CTO for global organisation News Corp - Christina Scott has been making the news in the company since her appointment in March 2016.
In the past 12 months she has transformed product management from a waterfall-driven process to one that puts customer need at the heart of product development. Product sentimentality (and wasted investment) has been given short shrift, with things that didn't work killed off fast. In its place she has brought experimentation – a new business ventures lab with cross-functional teams acts on customer insights to deliver the products customers actually want.
News UK is continuing to move virtually the entire IT infrastructure to the cloud – and cut costs as a result. The vast overhaul also reduced the number of major IT incidents from 12 to two, and allowed the organisation to drive revenue through cloud-held data.
Innovative products Scott and her function have driven include a print loyalty scheme, while they have also introduced a predictive learning system which uses factors such as news agenda, sporting fixtures, weather, and day of the week to calculate the optimum number of newspapers to deliver to each of its 24,000 retailers. It has generated savings of £2.5 million by reducing the number of returns and can be commercialised for other companies.
Her digital concierge development individualising the way content is distributed to readers – by learning their habits and preferences – won a £700,000 grant from Google DNI. Other promising pilot projects include one that looks at automating the editorial subbing process by using AI to fact-check and apply the appropriate style guide, and another that has demonstrated it is possible to automate around 80% of service desk calls using AI.
Finally, the creation of a startup innovation lab to improve the company's editorial coverage and help with internal cultural change is now complete. A second lab intake will take place in April 2018, and the aim is to build it out as a service to other companies, creating a revenue stream in its own right.