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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.

AEG's David Jones at the 2017 CIO 100 celebration

Earlier this year Yodel CIO Adam Gerrard quipped that he absolutely did not want to be CIO of the first big organisation the Information Commissioner's Office went after, sentiments echoed by Jones.

"I think it's going to be an interesting couple of years for us all, and a bit of a roller coaster at times," Jones said. "People will have understood something one way, and actually it will turn out the regulator's interpreting it another way, and we'll be rushing around to catch up with that.

"I think we're all hoping the ICO will go after the likes of Google and Facebook first rather than smaller organisations, and that will help set some sort of case law."


Digital innovation

With his broader European remit, Jones hopes to "cross-fertilise" pockets of expertise across AEG and notes that digital innovation is "not something one bit of the business does on their own".

Jones said that AEG's mobile app was a good example of a customer-centric digital project, built on a common platform which can be tailored to the needs of the company's different venues.

As such Jones said that his time was divided up in an equal split between digital projects and security projects, with operational IT bumped down the list for the time being.

"I always say you have to earn the ability to talk about digital projects as an IT leader," he said. "If your core operational technology is not working reliably, then it's hard to start preaching about digital to your business."

This is typical of the CIO role, however, and Jones praises his team of direct reports which enables the CIO to concentrate on the bigger picture and strategic issues. That is not to say though that the role is all big thinking, Jones acknowledges.

"CIOs don't really talk about it when they are on stage at a conference but I know all of them are dealing with it - is that one minute they're looking at something incredibly important and strategic, and the next they are dealing with something that couldn't be any less strategic or important," he said.

"But the more your day-to-day operation is being run well and you've got great people around you, that's the key thing. One of the most important things you can do in an IT leadership role is make sure you've hired the right people, that you can trust them, they know what they're doing, they're making good decisions, you're not having to micromanage, and you're confident if there's a query that comes in you can hand it over to one of your team straightaway and know they'll deal with it professionally and give the right answer.


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