Technology Chiefs Interview Simon Fell

Director of Technology and Innovation at European Broadcasting Union (EBU)

The European Broadcasting Union is an alliance of public service media entities made up of 73 broadcasters across 56 countries. It is best known for producing the Eurovision Song Contest

What are the top 3 priorities in your role?

  1. To ensure the work done by EBU R&D team meets the needs and remains relevant to all our member organisations
  2. Developing services for members that make the most of the Digital age. An example is the Fibre network created for the fast exchange of channels and Social media feeds like FaceBook
  3. Communication, making sure that everybody knows what work you are doing

Which previous role had the biggest impact on your career?

Calton TV & latterly ITV after the merger – over 20 years,15 different roles, everything from running operations to starting new divisions and creating new services. This was a great opportunity to be with a growing company and taught me that nothing was impossible.

How do you see the role of the Technology Leader changing?

If I break technology leader down into the main roles as I see it;

  • CTO – To manage the technology glut and make sense for their specific company needs. The ability to interpret the opportunities of the digital world and apply them to your company
  • CISO – a very hard job and it feels like the many are waiting for them to fail. The aim has to be to respect a user’s data and ensure their privacy. Systems and applications can only go so far, education is the real key.
  • CIO – Focus on setting a vision made up of a balance between the requirements of the business and that of progressing a technology roadmap.

Whatever the leadership role, technology teams don’t necessarily get the attention they deserve and this needs to increase in line with the importance and value of IT to the business.

What are the 3 most important issues confronting the technology industry?

  1. Making the right choice between Cloud or On Premise – There are still plenty of cases where on-premise is the pragmatic choice.
  2. Security of systems and customer data privacy. Every technology leader needs to have this in their top 3
  3. Adapting your technology approach to what the consumers are actually looking for. Consumer expectation moves faster than most enterprises can cope with

What 3 technology trends are you most excited about and why?

In the context of Digital broadcast media technologies

  1. Cloud-based operations for news/events content
  2. 5G and its opportunities for solving distribution issues or advancing
  3. IP Studio – how UHD will be produced and delivered for the next 20 years.

What product or company is having the biggest impact?

POC / sandbox – VRT broadcaster Dutch speaking – IP studio

What mobile app do you use every day?

The Times and Box.com

What 3 skills should an aspiring Technology Leader look to develop?

  1. Listening (listen to your team and interpret what they are telling you)
  2. The need to become a translator, to interpret the work of you and your team and make that realistic and relevant to your business.
  3. Never stop learning and developing – it keeps you young and relevant

Where do you look for trusted technology information & inspiration?

MIT website and magazine is always a great source of innovative thinking

Guy Kawasaki technology evangelist and former marketing exec for Apple is always worth reading/listening to

What books should someone looking to get on in their technology career read?

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