by Edward Qualtrough

News UK CTO Christina Scott CIO 100 interview – Data is at the core of News UK strategy

Apr 26, 2018
IT StrategyMedia and Entertainment Industry

News UK CTO Christina Scott said that “data is at the core of our strategy” after being named one of the leaders in the 2018 CIO 100.

The former Chief Product and Information Officer of the Financial Times joined News UK as CTO in March 2016 and took on added global responsibilities as Deputy CTO of News Corp in May 2017.

At News UK, publisher of The Times and The Sun, Scott has continued the media company’s cloud shift, introduced a new product management team putting the customer at the heart of product development, launched the News UK startup lab, started utilising machine learning and AI to speed up business processes, and has been a driver of talent management initiatives which have helped improve diversity and had a positive impact on the business.

Data Science

Scott said that the goal of democratising data science and driving revenue through data was making an impact across the organisation, and would be a continuing focus.

“We have built an internal data science capability, including a team in Bangalore and have worked technically on democratising the data by delivering APIs and tools to allow company-wide access to data,” she said.

“We recognised that while we had lots of data we weren’t monetising it as effectively as we should so I recruited a new role of ‘Data Revenue Director’ to work with the commercial teams. This role looks to articulate the data strategy to bring in new revenues through the use of our data.

“Data is core to our strategy and being able to drive real value from the data across all parts of the organisation is a focus for the rest of the year.”

The first iteration of the organisation’s startup lab, developed in collaboration with innovation partners Fluxx, kicked off in October 2017 with an intake of seven startups receiving mentoring from News UK. Two subsequently received significant investment, and with News UK running a second intake from April 2018 Scott said that there were a number of additional benefits.

Startup innovation

“The ethos of the startup lab has been to ensure the lab is advantageous for the startups involved while looking at innovations that complement the News UK businesses,” she said.

“It helps with internal cultural change, with many different parts of the organisation working with the startups. At a time when the UK needs to scale its technology innovation, it’s a great time for companies to work closely [with] and to support startups.”

Scott said that the new product management unit and business ventures lab had been “critical to drive the cultural change within the company to be more data-driven and able to be more comfortable with failure,” and that she had also been working with her C-suite peers to try and create a similar culture of experimentation and innovative thinking.

“It’s difficult for senior leaders to remain on top of the rapidly changing digital landscape so I have introduced a series of ‘Exec 101s’,” she said. “These focus on topics such as digital advertising, product, data, and blockchain – and are intended to allow the exec to understand these concepts in a non-competitive environment where it is OK to ask questions.”