How a data culture is driving transformation in the telecoms industry

"We have flipped the script on how ITV looks at data," says Mike Leverington, Director of Data Experimentation at ITV, a major broadcaster and studios business in the UK.

Lights, camera, data - major broadcaster uses value-based data to transform culture

"We have flipped the script on how ITV looks at data," says Mike Leverington, Director of Data Experimentation at ITV, a major broadcaster and studios business in the UK.
ITV is the largest commercial video and broadcast business in the UK and is navigating the transition of the media away from traditional broadcasting to streaming and on-demand services. As a result, ITV has to recast how its workforce uses data, moving to self-service and a data strategy closely aligned with business outcomes.

ITV has two business arms, a studio that produces not only shows for the ITV channels and streaming services but also other media distributors, including Netflix. The Media and Entertainment business is the organisation behind the ITV Hub, Britbox streaming services, and a plethora of broadcast channels which are home to famous shows such as Coronation Street and Doc Martin.

"So ITV is looking to expand our Studio business globally, to supercharge our streaming business and optimise our broadcast operations. That means we are going to double the number of monthly active users that view our content on broadcast, double our revenue and double our viewing hours."


Data driven transformation helps drive expansion

To hit these three targets Leverington and his team need to transform how data is used across the media firm. Leverington is candid about the state of data usage and culture he found at ITV when he joined in March 2021. "Data has been costly and difficult to manage historically. ITV has tried to scale the use of data by having armies of analysts. It is not scalable, and you end up with the analysts becoming a bottleneck, and they delay the decision-making process," he says.


"At time-pressured situations, that can lead to data not being used to make decisions and then you get the worst of both worlds. As a UK public broadcaster, we do actually have a large amount of data on the UK population, which we could be using, but we haven't been that effective."

Watch the recording of ITV's full session at Tableau's Communications & Media Summit to learn more about their digital transformation.

Data driven transformation: Establishing a data culture

Leverington and the team have taken ITV back to basics to create a set of completely new foundations across the media firm. "ITV really are at the start of this journey, and the focus of the first year has been to build our foundations. So we created value cases for where data can drive value, cost savings, or protect existing value streams," he says. ITV then tied data usage back to the business's key performance indicators (KPIs). "This has been 18 months in the making. We wanted to really nail down where the business drives value, and that led to 19 value cases," he says.

The next stage was to ensure that ITV was aware of the data it holds and prevent the build-up of duplication. "The aim here was to build confidence in how ITV uses data, and I want to get to the stage where people interact with Tableau without having to contact an analyst as they are looking at their dashboards and are confident to make decisions from that data. This will be a market shift within ITV.

We see Tableau as the sweet spot of serving trustworthy data that is accurate and standardised and enables people to take their own actions from that data as it is connected to the KPIs and it is timely

ITV initially had 700 different types of reports and dashboards; many had different data definitions. An early stage of the new strategy was to reduce the number of dashboards to 65, which Leverington describes as the core of the business.

To begin the journey towards self-service data usage across ITV, Leverington has worked with key stakeholders to form a Tableau Day and drive education across the business. He says this will lead to the ITV workforce being able to ask the data 'why' questions.

Self-service data culture

Changing the culture of an organisation is a big task. To guarantee success, ITV is using an iterative model. "Rather than go out to the entire business, we have selected three teams in the trading, marketing and digital streaming business units to be the first adopters. Once they have got to the self-service point, we will begin the foundational work in other areas of ITV, like advertising.

This will allow us to get to the immediate value of the use cases, and then we can replay that value to the business. If you try and do this all at once in an organisation the size of ITV, it will be too much and lead to failure.

As ITV changes to meet the new media needs, the use of data has to change. Leverington says this means the need for a self-service data culture across the organisation. Dashboards can become a good habit, which allows everyone in ITV to answer their own questions, he says. "That means changing the culture so that ITV thinks about what data is really needed, to think about what they can do with data to take action, and how people in the organisation feel about data," he says. 

Digitisation is changing the operations of all organisations and the consumption habits of viewers. If ITV continued with the old script, the media company would struggle to produce, distribute and draw revenue from its shows and content. To understand how the next generation of soap opera fan, news junkie or sports addict will consume shows, video streams, and broadcasts requires a data-centric approach. ITV is using its value-based approach to deliver savings and entertainment.

Want to know more about how Tableau can help Communications & Media companies harness the power of their data? Visit Tableau's Communications & Media web page.