With customers demanding more in terms of the latest entertainment news, rich media content and other interactive features, Sky recognised the need to replace its existing Showbiz, TV and Movies websites.
Sky’s vision for the online channel was ambitious – to become the number one place on the web for celebrity gossip and showbiz news, to deliver an exciting interactive experience around what’s on TV and to use digital media to fully complement on-air movie channels.
Sky had begun to work with an offshore development partner to build a generic content management platform but after 12 months, nothing had been delivered and senior management was becoming increasingly frustrated by slow progress and a lack of clarity over key issues.
Sky asked Energized Work to help make its vision a reality. We understood Sky’s aims and the frustrations they were experiencing with traditional ways of delivering enterprise projects.
Our first step was to introduce a very different way of working. We paired up key individuals within Sky with Energized Workers, creating a self-sufficient team that could get the job done. This marked a radical departure from the normal way of working on projects across functional departments as this new product stream structure acted more like a start-up company.
The product team was made up of around 60 people, including Sky’s Editorial Director, editorial staff, and a technical team of developers, testers, system administrators and user-experience designers. Co-locating individuals from the business with a dedicated technical team, we created a highly focused unit capable of making quick decisions and rapid delivery. Able to continuously refine its output, it focused exclusively on one product with a single-minded determination to deliver features that would excite users and consequently generate growth and profitability.
To build momentum, the team concentrated on delivering high-value releases every week. Everything from software development and hardware procurement to environment management and hosting to deployment, system optimization and operational support was undertaken within the product stream.
Working this way helped to reveal further dependencies and led to us removing constraints in a planned way. We by-passed existing operational challenges by setting up our own on-site server room during the first 6 weeks before procuring a production environment hosted in a remote data centre.
We suggested an ambitious goal to Sky – to get a minimum but fully functioning version of the new Sky Living site live within 10 weeks. Once this was agreed, we immediately began delivering fully tested, usable features. Sky had an alpha version of the site live in 9 weeks, beating our deadline by a week.
A beta version was live after a further 9 weeks of iterative development, running in tandem withthe old site. The new Sky Living site was launched after just 21 weeks.
This was no flash in the pan. Our success at delivering high-quality, technically demanding solutions within tight timeframes was repeated as we built and launched Sky’s new TV and Movies sites within an additional 7 and 14 weeks respectively.
The new Sky Living site quickly rose to the number one slot in Google searches for ‘showbiz’. On average across the Entertainment suite, unique visits jumped by 190%, visitors rose by150%, while page impressions increased by 400%. Online surveys showed a marked increase in user ‘satisfaction’. The increased numbers of visitors particularly liked the photo galleries and enjoyed the browsing experience so much that they spent up to 28% longer on the sites.
Internally, Sky’s editorial team were delighted with the new publishing system that enables them to deliver richer content with a more engaging user experience with less effort. Across the suite of websites, new features can be released every week rather than every 6 months. What’s more, releases can be done in less than an hour without any downtime.
The results were so encouraging that Sky has adopted Energized Work’s approach in other projects. Sky is still building on this platform over 3 years later.
Meeting the challenge
Delivering an exciting user experience while streamlining operations and overcoming complex technical challenges.
Introducing product streams
Taking a product-oriented, user-centred approach that avoids the inherent waste in project thinking and an organization arranged in functional silos.
Working version of Sky Living site released within just 9 weeks. New site has significantly increased audience numbers while the internal editorial teams are delighted with the new, more efficient publishing system.
Introducing long-term change
Energized Work has transformed Sky’s thinking and approach to enterprise- scale software with our approach being copied and rolled out across the company.