Rise of the machines at ProSiebenSat.1 Tech Solutions

by Annina Neumann / December 14th 2018

Why digital transformation is a joint (ad)venture of IT and business

We are in the middle of a digital transformation process at ProSiebenSat.1. Core of our shared mission is to provide people with access to modern, flexible entertainment. To make “moving images” – cool buzzword still needs to be found – enjoyable for everybody at their own demand and customized to individual needs and preferences.

In his article “Building the future of our Entertainment technology”, our CIO Boris Radke explains how our new IT structure supports this common mission. In this article, I would like to follow up by giving a personal glimpse on what drives me to be part of this adventure.

In the end it comes down to these three facets…

New era of technology driven business

I’m an engineer at heart. Ok, I admit, looking at my degrees and fields of study (bioinformatics, neuroscience, clinical psychology, computer science, …) it doesn’t seem very straight forward. But what has always driven me is wanting to understand and to build software that has an impact. I consider this an engineering mindset and, apparently, so do others (see for example Top 10 Engineering Quotes). Digital transformations, just like ours at ProSiebenSat.1, are very much driven by engineers and their tendency to build stuff. Especially the areas of algorithms, machine learning and artificial intelligence provide us with a broad variety of tools we can use to create those technical systems we need in order to make more content available via more platforms for more customers while monetizing as much viewership as possible. Of course, the input to the systems comes from our creative minds within our business units, who come up with plots, shows, formats and program flows. But the part where we become user driven and can offer this flexible, customized entertainment at scale is essentially technology built. So, whenever engineers see a person with a million xls files, sweating over pasting this into other systems, we try to support by letting complex calculations and processes being automated. This will go on, until humans and machines work together so that business becomes IT and IT becomes business. And this is fun (most of the time at least).

Hope for a truly collaborative culture

Why is it so much fun for me to replace manual work with intelligent software? I guess it is, again, the enjoyment of building something that has a positive impact and enables someone to do better at something. Or just makes their lives easier...

pic (see other Engineering inventions that changed the world)

Even though in retrospective these things seem fantastic and enjoyable, in the moment of change they elicit a considerable amount of uncertainty and fear. The same goes for new inventions in technology and merging these with business ideas. There is fear on both sides, because each side knows their turf and has experiences the other side doesn’t. But if this fear or skepticism drives our actions, and we lack trust and respect for each other, we simply cannot accomplish our joint mission. So, we are working hard on establishing a culture within our tech and data organization, that lives by values such as performance-focus, collaboration, respect, self-awareness and transparency. We aim at building bridges between organizational departments based on these cultural values. Because, if culture eats strategy for breakfast (Peter Drucker), then I’m guessing it has organization for lunch. And it would be quite tiring to have to come up with new organizations all the time.

Exciting Factor Entertainment

Last but not least I would like to say how much I believe in the future of entertainment. I love movies and shows, regardless of the channel or platform that I’m viewing the content on. And I believe in the mission to make these great stories accessible to others with regards to their needs. Just look at the cults that have formed around successful formats like Game of Thrones (where data scientists try to predict deaths for fun), Germany’s next Topmodel and movie classics like Star Wars. Or at the fan bases of popular YouTube stars. It all tells you: the spell of entertainment and “moving images“ (now, really, we need a cool buzzword for this) is growing and stronger than ever. It is worth an adventure’s ride.