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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.

"One of the biggest challenges from an information security point of view is that we're always being asked to stick something on the network in the building. It's that tension between trying to be agile and innovative but also not losing complete sight of process, procedure, documentation and information security."'


WiFi, Brexit and The O2 retail village

The O2, AEG's flagship UK venue, hosts over 200 events a year - a calendar which is filled without a resident sports team and as a multiple-use venue. Jones said that WiFi had become an important part of the customer experience at The O2, but admitted there was an "element of disruption that none of us really understand" regarding stadium WiFi.

Pandering to the connectivity needs of its audience did not necessarily satisfy the usual business case protocols such an infrastructure project would usually have to go through, but Jones said that fully-connected arenas in the UK would become increasingly common as people become used to having a good experience in other venues.

"No one builds an arena now without WiFi the same way no one builds a new arena without toilets," he said.

Jones described WiFi use at The O2 as "staggering", with more than half of people in the arena now logging on to the stadium WiFi, with a reasonable range from those watching Drake or One Direction, and those at a Barry Manilow concert.

Coming up, Jones and his team are working on a new entertainment district in Berlin, taking over the management and operation of the Friends Arena in Stockholm and working on the new designer outlet village at The O2. Working as the European technology leader in a global enterprise, Jones is also keeping a close eye on Brexit negotiations.

He noted that with businesses inside and outside of the European Union the organisation was in a strong position to understand exactly where challenges could occur, with a particular concern about exchange rate impact and the effects of a weak pound with all financial reports presented in US dollars. Jones also said that with 20% of IT staff in the UK being non-British EU nationals, he was watching closely how the government addresses the issues of EU citizens in the UK.


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