On Thursday 19th September, 22 IT Executives gathered at Meat & Wine Co Barangaroo for iQ3’s Qyarterly Thought Leadership Roundtable Series. Angela Stengel, Head of Innovation at Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) lead the conversation, providing educational insights and proven strategies designed to inspire and innovate organisations to remain ahead of the curve during a time of rapid technological change.
Head of the Content Ideas Lab at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Angela Stengel says that today’s businesses will benefit from a “bottom up” innovation strategy to stay adaptive and responsive to change.
Speaking at an iQ3 event in Sydney, Angela spoke about the importance of creating a culture of change through a philosophy of innovation and agility.
“The demographics in Australia are changing, so we need to examine how to maintain our reach and meet the requirements of new audiences,” said Angela.
Established in 1929, the ABC has expanded to many platforms beyond TV and radio over the last few decades. Angela believe it is important to diversify across numerous platforms – old and new – in order to reach the broadest possible audience. ABC’s commitment to producing unique Australian content is stronger than ever, with more international entertainment options entering the market.
The Content Ideas Lab is an in-house incubator, where Angela’s team focuses on trialling innovative new approaches to the challenge of providing engaging and relatable content to meet ever-changing audience expectations.
Angela is in the unique position of running an in-house start-up as part of this long-standing organisation. Her team’s projects have included ABC Life, the introduction of a children’s radio station called Kids Listen, the true crime series Unravel, and the scripted vertical video series Content.
“We are a small team sitting alongside big teams, giving us the opportunity to tap into ongoing resources,” said Angela.
“Yet our goals need to align with the big team so we have an advocate for our projects.”
She also believes it is essential to establish a common purpose that is closely articulated.
“When creating new ideas, it is important to collaborate across teams from early in the process to help build the trust, rapport and common purpose that develops from this process.”
The “bottom up” communication strategy ensures that everybody’s ideas are heard, and that the new direction is not simply driven by management.
“With a top-down approach, innovation doesn’t always work,” she said. “It can’t be siloed to one part of an organisation, it needs to be bubbling along in many teams and across all levels.”
Even within her own small team, Angela believes in “bottom up” communication to ensure she can leverage the collective intelligence of all team members.
“We need to build trust and rapport through time and listening, so we can understand what the individual is trying to achieve.
As ABC has incurred multiple budget cuts over the last five years, with more expected in the future, Angela consistently looks for innovative “lean” ways to start a project.
“If we start in a small way, we can let the project prove itself,” she said.
Angela also discussed the growing impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on journalism.
AI is providing some significant benefits for journalists and researchers, through the accessibility of primary documents. For example, Microsoft has recently made an index of all files related to John F Kennedy, enabling researchers and journalists to access new data easily and make sense of it. Conversely, AI can also be detrimental to serious journalism, through the automatic generation of news articles, created for the sake of generating online content, rather than providing any insight, critique or context to current events.
Angela also sees AI as an invaluable tool for helping the ABC better understand their audience’s needs and preferences, in order to personalise their options. This will become increasingly important as audiences diversify and expect content that is tailored to their interests and concerns.
Craig Humphreys from iQ3 said that the rapid advances in IT make this an exciting yet challenging time for businesses.
“We tend to underestimate our capabilities in the short term and overestimate them in the long term,” Craig said.
“We need to be agile in our platforms to make the most of our technology and infrastructure.”
Published by Kirsten Ehrlich Davies
1 April, 2019