Integral to Sky’s DNA is the adoption of new technologies and innovating the production to distribution chain, says Production Services Director Darren Long.

Darren long

Darren Long

“From an innovation point of view we are realising we have got to change the way in which we do our business,” says Sky Production Services Director Darren Long.

The dynamic media and broadcasting landscape features an ever-expanding range of OTT and SVOD competitors rivalling to implement new technology to enhance the user experience (UX) and streamlining of production.

Long says: “Traditionally we bought proprietary bits of equipment for the broadcast world.

“We realised actually that is limiting and causing us restrictions because we can’t move at the same pace as Amazon or Google could move, because we are so fixed with our technology.”

Future proofing

Sky’s primary goal is to remain relevant and ensure customers are engaged with the great content on offer.

Long says to remain as an industry leader the adoption of new technologies and innovation is core a part of the company DNA.

“We will be embarking over the next three years a real change to the way we and the industry work.

“Sky will effectively come up with a much more federated architecture based on a commodity hardware rather than proprietary hardware.”

Sky is always looking for solutions to streamline workflows and offer new experiences for its customers. Long explains if you cut Sky through the middle, the strategy employed is innovation, championing new ideas and integrating technology are at the core of the corporation.

“Innovation comes from all different angles. People look at innovation as the next big thing, but it can also be a very small but very important thing.

“We are looking at how we modernise our supply chain and how we can integrate it into the way we are delivering our content and what we can offer our customer.”

Sky riviera

Sky’s original Riviera

He says: “We have got to innovate in a way that always keeps that front and centre, with new ideas and solutions and not bring gimmicks our for the sake of it.”

Challenging his team to develop solutions and new ideas to deliver content to Sky’s customers in a variety of ways whilst modernising the work practices is what Long is most passionate about.

He explains approximately 80% of his day is spent driving change and ensuring Sky as a broadcaster remains relevant.

He said: “We are one of those relentless companies that never stop. If you look at what we do from a process point of view, we are always looking for ways to improve.

“Our strap line ‘believe in better’ is fundamental to what we are. We have to keep innovating and building that into the heart of the organisation.”

“Going forward we really have to innovate and come up with new ways people can find this great content”

Future proofing its ecosystem around microservices is the principal driver for change, Long described the greatest challenge the industry faces is the management of data.

“There is so much data driven services from personal choices to the types of content and the people who watch that content, we look and see how we can drive this industry through new ideas and solutions.”

Traditional hardware and kit are not viable options in today’s changing landscape.

“It makes it difficult to change what we do in the industry when you’re fixed with expensive technology,” Long says,

“What we are looking to do in the future is building a network we can plug in whether that is an app or an alternative solution that isn’t prescribed in such a way that is so fixed in the heart of what we do.”

Positioning the customer at the forefront of all innovation is the key to remaining relevant and customising the user journey with simplicity through one simple solution.

Long says: “We will never stop innovating and one thing we know without a doubt there will be another company innovating harder and faster so we have got to stay ahead.”

Power shift

Audiences are in control of their viewing experiences, with a vast content offering and multiple platforms at their disposal, broadcasters are being forced to respond with the best quality of content and the ultimate UX.

”We want to ensure there are no barriers for people to get hold of that content”

Long explains customers need to have access to the content as soon as it is available anywhere in the world.

He says: “We want to ensure there are no barriers for people to get hold of that content but equally we want to be able to own the eco-centre that actually delivers that.

“Innovating through 3G and 5G services and all the way through new ideas around broadband and new technology around content accessibility and the distribution.”

“User experience is the most important thing,” Long says.

“We are thinking about what the future is going to be like and then building a system. Rather than building a system and adding onto it.”

The greatest challenge Long says, is to ensure the customer and UX  is the best it can be across all the platforms.

Sky ux

Sky’s browser 

Perfecting its UX is through discovery and engagement.

“It takes a lot of effort to get a customer on board but about five seconds to lose them. We want to make sure that through innovation and new ideas we only offer reasons to be part of the community.”

One of the other solutions Long and his team continually drive for is creating change to the ecosystem that is functional and works every time on any platform without latency. Long explained his wonderment at the progression and fast-paced nature of technology development.

He says: “We are constantly grappling all the time as to whether channels will be relevant in the future? Are people just wanting content, how do they want content? Should we become a greater aggregator?

“What is exciting for us is only our imagination is going to stop us and hold us back.”

Sky has 600 channels on offer, Long and his team take calculated risks in how its audience view those channels.

“Going forward we really have to innovate and come up with new ways people can find this great content.”

Speed to service

“The pace of innovation is so fast, the speed is the most important thing, how do you ensure you are always thinking about what the next thing is and how you are going to be relevant.

“It is about making sure that we think about how we can move forward with consistency and speed and also ensuring we keep the rights and the content.”

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