Willem Roskam, Chief Technology Officer, NPO

The world around us is changing fast. Technology is rapidly advancing, and media consumption behaviour is changing at an ever-increasing rate as well. Public service media (PSM) must move from a ‘one- to-many’ to a ‘one-to-one’ publishing model, in which it is crucial to ensure that the right relevant content, as required by the remit of PSM, is available to the audience at the right time and on the right device. We are engaging directly with our audience members, who expect a seamless experience with our content, whether via linear television or via the PSM video- on-demand application on a smart TV, smartphone or tablet.

Technology has long since ceased to be an amenity like ‘water from the tap’. The proper use of technology is essential in order to make possible the omni-channel content experience that is needed. A fully integrated content and metadata publishing chain, well-functioning digital products that are valued by the public, and the use of user data to enable an improved user experience – in 2024, a PSM organization can no longer do without these things.

To facilitate this, it is relevant to consider how the board is organized, what its focus is, and whether it possesses the right expertise. The composition of boards is changing, and necessarily so. If they are not already in place, a Chief Information Officer or Chief Technology Officer are being added, as well as other new portfolio managers such as a Chief Data Officer, a Chief Product Officer, or a Chief Transformation Officer.

To increase the organization’s clout with regard to the digital transition, it is important for PSM to recognize that the board must have sufficient relevant knowledge of technology, digital products and data. But what does this mean for you as a CIO or CTO in a perhaps somewhat traditional board?

As CIO or CTO, you must take full responsibility for all aspects of the technology needed to enable the digital transformation. Establish connections between the traditional production and broadcasting technology teams and the teams working in the fast-paced world of digital technology. Help them understand each other’s world to make certain that they are able to work together on an integrated content and metadata publishing chain.

‘Data’ and ‘product’ may be new disciplines. Ensure that they are properly represented and embedded in the board. You could choose to incorporate these disciplines in your own portfolio, so as to unburden the business department of the organization and help them achieve their objectives. In that case, it is important to steadily guide them towards the new way of thinking: putting the audience first, delivering content based on its value for the audience, and data-supported decision-making. Only in this way can you create that good ‘one-on-one’ relationship with the audience and facilitate this transition as CIO/CTO by applying the right technology and incorporating the use of data within the digital product portfolio.

Breaking with tradition

To accelerate the digital transition, ‘content’, ‘product’ and ‘technology’ disciplines must always be well represented and embedded in the board. This is not always self-evident, as many PSM still focus heavily on radio and television. Above all, apart from the embedding of these disciplines, it is paramount that they work together as much as possible to achieve the jointly set objectives. In my opinion, setting up multidisciplinary teams across executive boards is a prerequisite to make this happen. Traditional divisions within PSM need to be overturned!

In short, as CIO/CTO we have for years felt responsible for the 24/7 operation of our PSM organization and all the technology that involves. But today, more is expected of us. Allow yourself time to take a critical look at the way your board is organized. Consider your role in it. What changes are needed to accelerate the digital transition?

I, too, am still in the process of discovering what would work best for NPO. Do you know? If so, I would very much like to meet you for a cup of coffee at IBC2023 in Amsterdam!


This article first appeared in issue 57 of EBU tech-i magazine.


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