Change, Influence and IA at the BBC


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Can IA influence the business? It is something all IAs have aspired to in our roles as change managers as well as documenters of existing and future functionality on web sites; the ability to one day say, My IA changed the way the organisation works! At the BBC, we are beginning to see results of a product that is changing little by little; the way programme information is held, managed and used. For the last year, we have been developing PIPs (Programme Information Pages) a data store of programme information that is used to automatically create pages for every programme broadcast; the first network being Radio 3 ( PIPs has unexpectedly been a catalyst for change; changing the way programming information is written by schedulers and content producers, to the way this information is stored and pushed out of broadcast systems. This presentation will talk about IA and change and how it happens in unexpected places.

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Change, Influence and IA at the BBC

  1. 1. 1Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004Change, influence and IA atthe BBCMargaret HanleyExecutive Producer - Core
  2. 2. 2Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004Introduction• Margaret Hanley• Executive Producer – Core Products BBC• Worked on three continents – Australia, USAand UK• Been both a consultant and internal staff tocompanies like Sensis (Yellow Pages inAustralia), Argus Associates (US), Ingenta (UKand BBC (UK)
  3. 3. 3Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004Agenda• BBC Background• Influence and culture within the BBC• What is PIPs?• What was the IA challenge?• Systems, people and content• Lessons Learnt• Questions
  4. 4. 4Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004BBC Background• Divisions or “petals” with New Mediagroups• Central New Media division that developsapplications• Programme information traditionallycreated with or after the programmefinished – very incomplete information• One credible/complete source based onTV/Radio listings
  5. 5. 5Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004Influence and culture at the BBC• Emphasis is on established traditionalmedia– TV; then Radio; then New Media• Changing culture; new DG, change ofaudience consumption of media– Reduction in traditional media use for youngeraudiences• Networking is important
  6. 6. 6Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004PIPs• Programme information pages – a pagefor every programme episode, broadcaston BBC• Cross-divisional project– Radio and Music interactive and New MediaCentral
  7. 7. 7Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004
  8. 8. 8Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004
  9. 9. 9Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004IA Challenge• Use of content from one source – complete butvery badly structured – unable to distinguish abrand title from an episode title in the free-textlong description field• In the short term, to make small editorialchanges within the feed to allow that separation;in the long term, identify how to change thesource to give us the content in the right format
  10. 10. 10Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004IA Challenge• Content limited– Some programmes had lots of information;some had very little– So hard to create a page layout that didn’tlook empty– No consistent metadata attached to aprogramme information
  11. 11. 11Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004
  12. 12. 12Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004Systems, people and content• Systems– Using industry and business standards – the BBCdoes have a corporate data standard SMEF ™– thatour product uses it; but very few other systems do– Digital TV and Radio production at the BBC is juststarting to happen– So now there is leverage from the “business” toactually use it in upstream system like digitalproduction or capture of information by Informationand Archive
  13. 13. 13Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004Systems, people and content• People/ Cultural change– Changing working practices so that content could bere-used and highlighting that metadata about aprogramme can be as important as the programmeitself– See Radio 3 staff work better with the EPG Unit– Start creating content earlier in the process• making use of broadcast assistants• I & A staff• working together rather than always doing it downstreamonce the content has been created
  14. 14. 14Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004Systems, people and content• Content– Quality of content becoming better once the content is“seen in perpetuity”, rather than deleted after 7 days– More information collated together and built upon bythe people who know about it – the production staffand the users– Moving from metadata standards that are used to finda tape again or create an Electronic ProgrammeGuide to one with more granularity and depth
  15. 15. 15Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004Incremental change• Change in systems in such a largeorganisation like the BBC takes time andis mostly bottom-up – it infiltrates theorganisation; imposition in “the mostcreative organisation in the world” doesn’twork• Radical and revolutionary change takestime and is top-down – both arehappening at the BBC
  16. 16. 16Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004Influence• Networking is a more powerful influencerthan pure business value• But…New Media people don’t considerthemselves inferior or as “only support” tothe main business as many in HR orFinance have; and this has been re-enforced in the org structure
  17. 17. 17Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004Influence• New Media is using existing frameworks tohelp generate change; and it’s leading theBBC in this• Using SMEF™ and then asking theupstream for the information to beprovided in the same format
  18. 18. 18Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004Lessons learnt• Once the product is released it is easier(and harder) to go forward– Easier with an application that you canactually see– Harder everyone wants a piece and the abilityto interface with other– Gets pretty weird when the DG talks aboutcontext and findability – the core of your work
  19. 19. 19Margaret Hanley© BBC 06/03/20056 March 2004Thank youQuestions or comments?Margaret