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AEG CIO David Jones interview: Digital innovation and live disruption

Edward Qualtrough | Sept. 18, 2017
Anschutz Entertainment Group's Senior Vice President of IT for Europe, David Jones, discusses disruption, innovation, security, EU GDPR and board engagement.

david jones aeg1
David Jones, AEG. Photo via CIO UK.

Anschutz Entertainment Group's Vice President of IT in Europe, David Jones, is focused on helping formulate growth at the sporting and music entertainment organisation, while dealing with the opportunities and threats of digital disruption.

AEG is perhaps best known in the UK as the organisation which redeveloped the Millennium Dome into the docklands entertainment hub it now operates known as The O2. Indeed, the telco and mobile network provider has naming rights until 2027 for the facility which Jones described as "the most popular music and entertainment venue in the world".

The company's UK portfolio includes Wembley Arena and the Thames Clippers service, a defensive acquisition over concerns about the resilience of transport links to its flagship East London venue which were almost solely dependent on the Jubilee underground line. In the CIO's European remit, the company owns and operates businesses in Paris, Berlin, Hamburg and Stockholm - from arenas and stadia to the Eisbaren ice hockey team in the German capital.

"The big strategic challenge for our business is being aware of opportunities like The O2 elsewhere in the world; getting that level of growth is quite tricky if you are going to continue the model elsewhere," Jones said.

"One of the challenges our owner sets for the business is where we could go next."


Live entertainment disruption

Jones noted that digital disruption was both an opportunity and a threat for AEG, with the CIO and organisation trying to identify exactly where disruption will come from in the burgeoning live entertainment industry.

"There is an element of understanding how digital will change what we do and how it can make what we do more profitable or make a better experience for our customers -- or ideally both," Jones said. "And that challenge applies both in what my day job is, but also it's a challenge for the organisation.

"Actually what are the disruptors to our business? It's not immediately obvious, because live entertainment is growing all the time and people still actually really want a live experience and young people even more so are really keen."

Jones joined AEG in January 2008 as Director of IT in the UK, and took on the broader role as EMEA Vice President of IT in 2011.


Senior management influence

Jones sits on the company's European management team and is privy to the commercial and financial imperatives of the business, which he says provides the technology leader with an important oversight beneficial to his CIO role.

"Often, particularly in smaller companies when you start out in this sort of role, IT directors are reporting to the CFO," Jones said. "They are usually a level down the organisation.


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