Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Part One of the exclusive Interview with David Cook is Chief Digital Officer at Time Out.

David Cook is Chief Digital Officer at Time Out.
David Cook’s mandate includes Research, Innovation, User Experience, Design, Product Development, Technology and Analytics. He was previously Technology Director - Auto Trader  & International and Chief Information Officer at Marshall Wace 

Time Out was founded in 1968 in London by Tony Elliott, Time Out has since grown into a global media group that, as of November 2014, spans 68 cities across 37 countries with a monthly combined audience of over 33 million.  The business is well positioned to provide the platform and marketplace for inspiring people to make the most of their city through a distribution network, which incorporates a growing online presence, mobile applications, magazines, events and partnerships.

Mark Baker: So tell me about your organization, David, about yourself and how you got to where you are.
David Cook: Okay, well, I'll start with the organization. Time Out has been around since 1968, being the original listings magazine for London in terms of what's going on in the city around you. It's gradually grown over the years to become a global success. We now have presence in 68 cities and 37 countries around the world. It is a business with a strong print heritage, so digital really only became a priority after we received investment from Oakley Capital a few years ago now . 
In terms of my background, I'm a software engineer by profession. At university I studied astrophysics, but I also did a lot of programming, having got a taste for it back in the early 80's. It was as a result of those two disciplines that I ended up working for a company called Logica  in the space and defence sector. Gradually I moved from software engineering into project and change management. After that I got into more senior leadership roles, firstly at the NHS, then Marshall Wace, Auto Trader and now Time Out. It was at Auto Trader where I got firsthand experience of digital transformation; so, when we the company had finished that particular journey, it was a good time to leave and leverage that experience elsewhere. Time Out ended up being the right fit at the right time. After 4 years of distance learning, I completed my MBA at the end of 2013.
Mark Baker: That's great. Can you tell me about the development of the Time Out digital road map? How you've gone about that? 

David Cook: I initially joined as CTO, in June 2013. However, when Tim Arthur became CEO, we decided to create the Chief Digital Officer role, which covers Research, Innovation, User Experience, Design, Product Development, Technology, and Analytics. It's quite a broad remit, but brings together the core digital teams under one umbrella. When compared to our peers, we had some catching up to do – as an example, our mobile web experience was not up to scratch. We were able to set a road map pretty quickly just by looking at what others were doing around us, but we are now coming out of that phase. We have a very clear vision and direction, so we can finally move forward with some new and exciting initiatives. 

Mark Baker: So, how far forward does your road map take you? 

David Cook: We look at the road map across 3 distinct horizons: Horizon One covers what we’re doing now and for the next 6 months; Horizon Two covers what we plan to do next, roughly up to 12 months out; and then we have Horizon Three, which is obviously 12 months plus. 
At the moment, we are focused on 3 main initiatives: firstly, a new product that we recently launched into the market called Premium Profiles; secondly, the roll out of our new responsive website, which has been designed mobile-first; and thirdly, the development of a new blogging platform that we’ll be opening up to the Time Out community.  Looking further forward, we’re planning to update our ecommerce platform; release a new suite of apps; and revamp Time Out Dating. 
When it comes to Horizon Three, we’re looking at the connected TV, connected car and wearables. So for example, we’re considering how we might expand the user journey from the desktop, tablet and phone onto these new devices whilst still providing a coherent and useful end-to-end experience. 

 . .  more tomorrow  . . .

Read more of this interview and others like it from digital thought leader look out for the forthcoming Chief Digital Officer Handbook 

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