Condé Nast’s CTO: The 3D’s for the Future of the Media Industry

 

Next up in our CIO series for B2B entrepreneurs is Joe Simon. He is the CTO of Condé Nast, one of the largest media companies globally with over 95 million consumers across print, digital and video publications (including 20+ household names like Vogue, Condé Nast Traveler, Wired, Bon Appetit and GQ). Joe is a technology thought leader in the media industry and has been a member of Sierra Ventures’ CIO Advisory Board for over 8 years. Prior to becoming the Condé Nast CTO, Joe was the CIO of Viacom. We covered three main topics during a recent visit from Joe, mainly around the themes of data, mobile and the cloud.

95 million consumers and the 3D’s… Digital, Devices and Data

According to Joe, print publishers like Condé Nast have an advantage over the rest of the media industry because they know their customers better than anyone. However, they have not always been quick to capitalize on that information. For example, they know that …

  • Greater than half of Wired’s revenue comes from digital,
  • most of New Yorker readers have tablets,
  • weekday peaks are at 3pm on websites, and
  • starting on Friday 6pm EST, iPad readership increases steadily.

Condé Nast wants to replicate Wired’s digital success across all its brands and believes that they have the information to achieve that goal.

Opportunities for startups: Joe was very clear that data will be a huge component of the future of Condé Nast. They get troves of usage data from mobile devices and also have the offline purchase information and a private subscriber network data (their ‘first party data’). But they are now figuring out what questions to ask and what predictions they can make with this information. They would like to augment their primary ‘first party data’ with device data like location, to send a recipe or a coupon. Joe wants to marry data with device capabilities like pulling content from the brands to give people real-time information about events around town. He believes that the media industry will be one of the largest users of predictive analytics to achieve these improvements. He’s in the process of deploying some of the most cutting edge analytics tools in the industry to give them the edge over their peers.

All in … on the Cloud

Unlike many 100+ year old companies, Condé Nast is making an all-in move on the cloud. They were early adopters of SaaS platforms like Salesforce.com and Joe is now looking to move to Workday for critical pieces of his backend services. They are rolling out Office 365, and other SaaS applications around content. All ERP systems at Condé Nast will soon be hosted on AWS. Even telephony and video conferencing will be completely cloud-based. He likes the SaaS model – especially for back-office systems – because of cost and the ease of use. They will continue to invest in custom solutions that offer differentiated services and benefits to their customers. According to Joe, in keeping with their overall strategy, many of these services will be IaaS-based.

Opportunities for startups: Joe is very receptive to new technologies and startups. While he’s consolidating some of his platforms and legacy vendors, he has always been very interested in working with a number of young companies. Back at Viacom, he was one of the first adopters of VMware and eGenera. He’s always been a big believer in the cloud, both private and public. Besides SaaS applications that help his publishing business and editorial team, Joe is interested in ad technologies that help him monetize the 95M consumers that are rapidly moving to digital.